Bengaluru, March 31: A portion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center which hosts the last Grand Slam of the year -- the US Open -- is set to transform into a 350-bed temporary hospital to contain the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.
The news of the Flushing Meadows facility comes a day after New York began construction on a 68-bed field hospital in Central Park, as the city strains to accommodate the volume of patients at its medical centres.
The New York City has been badly affected by the pandemic which has claimed many deaths.
“New York City’s emergency management office plans to build a 350-bed facility at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows as efforts intensify to supplement hospital space as the U.S. battles the coronavirus pandemic.” @WSJ https://t.co/rKKTYAUy1K— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) March 30, 2020
The site of the US Open and the crown jewel of American tennis, the venue has been thrust into the fray amid a medical crisis that has gripped the world and brought professional sports to a sudden and indefinite halt.
The conversion of an indoor tennis facility on the venue would begin on Tuesday (March 31).
"We're here to help, no two ways about it. New York is our home, we're all in this together," US Tennis Association (USTA) spokesman Chris Widmaier told Reuters news agency.
New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) informed the USTA of its plans after previously telling the organisation that the tennis centre was a potential venue for auxiliary medical care.
"The site is likely to be non-Covid patients, and we'll evaluate based on need," NYCEM spokesman Omar Bourne said.
He added that the city is "actively working to identify spaces that can be used to expand hospital capacity throughout the five boroughs," but did not elaborate.
(With inputs from Agencies)