Australian Open hops into the Metaverse by partnering with Decentraland

Lavina Daryanani
Source: Cryptelites

Sports enthusiasts from all across the globe had been gearing up for the Australian Open over the last couple of weeks. Well, the D-Day is finally here. The 110th edition of this mega-tournament is all set to begin today [17 January]. In what is the most recent development, Tennis Australia has partnered with Decentraland, a leading virtual reality platform, to host the AO virtually. With this tie-up, the AO is all set to become the first official tennis grand slam to be held in the metaverse.

Right from the Rod Laver Arena to the Grand Slam Park, a virtual recreation of key areas in Melbourne Park will be open for the duration of the AO. The event is said to include exclusive content for virtual visitors, including behind-the-scenes footage from over 300 cameras in and around the park, together with player arrival areas and the practice village.

Apart from broadcasting live footage and AO radio, the metaverse is also set to feature archival footage from old tennis matches and e-meetups with tennis players.

In a virtual welcome address on Decentraland, Tennis Australia and Metaverse Project Manager Ridley Plummer hoped for the AO to become the “world’s most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event.”

He said,

“With the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne, we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse.”

Plummer also highlighted that taking the AO into the metaverse was an important step to provide “truly global access” to the event. Well, the 2021 AO faced a host of challenges, right from the lockdown restrictions to not being able to amass a large number of spectators online.

Now even though Tennis Australia’s and Decentraland’s partnership comes amidst the pandemic, Plummer said that the AO intends to continue to collaborate with the aforementioned meta-project even in the future. He said,

“We’re in it for the long term.”

Plummer additionally added that Tennis Australia was exploring the possibility of a year-round property in the Metaverse.

The ‘Sweet’ NFT icing to AO’s Metaverse cake

At this stage, it is also important for the readers to note that apart from the championship being held in Decentraland, fans would also be able to participate further by buying NFTs. The AO announced its novel tie-up with NFT platform Sweet to release six NFT collections commemorating the last five decades of the AO.

The collections would be released periodically between 17-27 January to coincide with the tournament.

What’s more, the AO separately launched a collection of 6,776 NFTs called Art Ball NFTs on OpenSea earlier last week. Interestingly, it sold out all the NFTs it minted for the viewers at 0.067 ETH each within a few minutes after the public sale went live.

Well, with the meta-craze increasing with every passing day, AO’s partnership with Decentraland is bound to be fruitful. For its part, the AO has already witnessed its share of drama, with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic being deported by the Australian government, owing to his vaccination status. Fans’ enthusiasm, in effect, has already fizzled out to some extent. However, looks like the virtual things in-store would be able to make up for it.