When the 2020 US Open began, America was in the grips of a pandemic the likes of which the world hadn't seen for over a century.
Days out from the beginning of the 2021 US Open, remarkable leaps forward have been made in our ability to treat and, more importantly, prevent transmission of COVID-19, but concerns remain about the safety of hosting an international tournament in one of the most densely-populated cities in the world.
Admittedly, New York has dealt with the coronavirus quite well in comparison to the rest of the United States, with roughly 1,400 confirmed cases per day over the last week, as opposed to more than 140,000 cases per day on average for the rest of the country.
For a city of more than eight million, such low infection rates are staggering.
New York's success in suffocating the coronavirus is in no small part down to its vaccination rate, with almost 60 per cent of residents fully vaccinated and 65 per cent partially vaccinated according to data from NYC Health.
But with vaccination rates among professionals tennis players believed to be below 50 per cent, has the bar been set too low for the world's best?
It is a worrying double standard that the elite of the sporting world are not beholden to the same rules as the spectators who watch them.
Over the next two weeks, tennis fans at Flushing Meadows must prove they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter the grounds.
That announcement was made just two days ago by the USTA, in response to pressure from the mayor's office about what the New York Times described as "lax coronavirus protocols".
The tournament is expected to be at full capacity, and although it now requires proof of vaccination for all attendees over the age of 12, there is no mask mandate in place.
But even these last-minute measures appear to be more stringent than those imposed on the players, many of whom memorably raised an uproar over the mandatory two-week quarantines imposed prior to the Australian Open.
In an interview following the latest update to the US Open health measures, former ATP world number one, Andy Murray (who has been fully vaccinated), carefully expressed his support for the coronavirus vaccines which have vastly reduced the rate of transmission in many countries.
"Obviously people have different opinions, as everybody has different opinions on a lot of things," Murray said.
"It's not an easy one but I don't think they're putting this vaccine out of the back of a lorry, are they? I'm sure there's quite a lot of science in it to say it's good for us. That would be my take on it."
Murray's perspective contrasts with a number of his colleagues on the tour who have expressed concerns that vaccines developed in 12 months - most of which have efficacy rates between 85 and 95 per cent, have been extensively peer-reviewed, and administered to millions of people across the world - might not be safe.
There has been no shortage of opportunities for players to get the jab over the last eight months, and the US Open has gone so far as to give players information about vaccination sites in the vicinity of their hotel.
A WTA spokeswoman said recently that just under half of the female players on tour were vaccinated, with the goal of hitting 85 per cent by the end of the year.
But without any kind of mandate or incentive to encourage players to get the vaccine, that number seems optimistic at best.
Hopefully, Murray's words will encourage more players to follow his lead, particularly while they continue to travel the world attending tournaments.
"Ultimately, I guess the reason why all of us are getting vaccinated is to look out for the wider public," the three-time grand slam champion said.
"We have a responsibility as players that are traveling across the world to look out for everyone else, as well.
"I'm happy that I'm vaccinated. I'm hoping that more players choose to have it in the coming months."
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