The Australian Open has entered the metaverse after a collaboration with an open-source 3D virtual world platform, Decentraland. The users will be able to discover a digital recreation of the Australian Open grounds in Melbourne and interact with players and other fans.
Craig Tiley, tournament director, said, “With this next wave of technology, global tennis fans will have the opportunity to be part of the 2022 Australian Open in a way never before available. The AO has always been seen as one of the most innovative sporting events in the world and this project is just another example of our team pushing the boundaries to provide our fans with better access and engagement.”
The first tennis Grand Slam of the year has also signed a collaboration with Run It Wild, Metakey to create 6,776 ‘art balls’ made from an algorithmic combination of various colours, patterns, and textures. A sum of 22 ‘AO Legend’ and 169 ‘Artist Series’ balls will have a one-of-a-kind look created by legacy and NFT artists.
The tournament organisers will allow the fans to attain these NFTs that will automatically update the metadata collected from the season’s first Grand Slam.
When each NFT is minted, each ball embodies a 19cm-by-19cm plot of tennis court surface that is randomly assigned. The relevant NFT will be updated in real-time with match and ball tracking data whenever a winning shot lands in that plot during any match at the 2022 Australian Open.
The corresponding NFT owner will also win the tennis ball used in a display case as well as a certificate of authenticity if any of the 11 championship points fall on a precise area. In the future, art ball owners will be able to have limited edition merchandise, wearables and other profits. The involved people have stated that they intend to offset the carbon emissions generated by the NFTs.
The two initiatives reflect the Australian Open’s and Tennis Australia‘s interest in engaging fans and driving growth through digital technology.
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on January 17 and conclude on January 30.