The Australian Open has become one of the first major global sporting events to simultaneously run in the metaverse as the tournament begins today.
Tennis Australia’s partnership with Decentraland, a decentralised virtual reality platform, will include replicas of Melbourne Park, the Rod Laver Arena as well as viewing screens and stores for purchasing NFTs of digital wearables.
Despite the absence of defending champion Novak Djokovic, Tennis Australia is moving full steam ahead to expand its fan engagement for the Australian Open and future tournaments to come.
Ridley Plummer, Tennis Australia metaverse and NFT project manager, said it was the growing popularity and adoption of the metaverse globally that helped make the decision to enter the metaverse.
“It was a natural progression to move further into the metaverse and NFTs and progress our development in Web 3.0 space,” he said.
“We want the AO to be the world’s most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event, and with the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the metaverse.”
Virtual player drop-ins
Tennis fans have more to look forward to in the metaverse with legends like Mark Philippoussis and Todd Woodbridge making drop-in appearances, as well as having access to behind-the-scenes footage of live matches from more than 300 cameras around Melbourne Park.
The AO Decentraland will also be televised on screens across the tournament with the opportunity to retrieve NFTs and take part in VR tennis games.