The 2023 Australian Open will be the first sensory inclusive international sporting event, KultureCity, a nonprofit which trains staff and certifies venues to be inclusive for patrons with apparent and nonapparent disabilities, announced on Friday.
Nonapparent disabilities can range from ADHD, autism, anxiety, epilepsy, hearing loss and others. KultureCity provides sensory nooks and rooms designed for neurodivergent guests who may need respite. Guest facing Australian Open staff will be trained, sensory bags (including headphones) will be available for fans to take home, and there will be an on-site sensory room.
For the past decade, KultureCity has helped make 1,200-plus venues sensory inclusive, including the NFL's Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, MLB's All-Star Game and World Series, the NBA All-Star Game and now the Australian Open.
"I'm very honored to see KultureCity bring sensory inclusion to major sporting events in Australia," said Renae Ingles, former Australian netball star and wife of Milwaukee Bucks forward/guard Joe Ingles. "The Australian Open is an iconic event, and I am so glad more individuals and families will feel safe and comfortable attending."
The Ingles, who have a son with autism, are both on the board of KultureCity. KultureCity's board chair is Basketball Hall of Famer and Atlanta Hawks all-time leading scorer Dominique Wilkins. The board also includes actors Jae Suh, Randall Park and Simu Liu and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.
KultureCity has also provided services for every NFL Pro Bowl since 2018 -- with the exception of the canceled 2021 iteration -- Super Bowls LV and LVI and the 2021 and 2022 NFL drafts. It will do so for the 2023 Pro Bowl and NFL draft, as well as the upcoming Super Bowl LVII. KultureCity has also trained 17 of 32 NFL teams on sensory inclusion.
The Australian Open begins on Jan. 16.