Indian Wells considering new ball kids plan due to coronavirus worries
Indian Wells officials are discussing the coronavirus outbreak and are reportedly considering banning the convention of ball kids handing players their sweaty towels. The opening ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event of the year gets underway with the world’s best players heading to Palm Springs, California.
But across the world, governments are dealing with the virus which has caused over 3,000 deaths.
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering say the number of coronavirus cases has reached 100,276 and the UK accounts for 163 of them.
The coronavirus has had a major impact in the sporting world with multiple events and matches being postponed.
In Italy, all sport in the country will be played behind closed doors until April 3 while the England men’s and women’s Six Nations match with the Italians have been postponed.
It has also made a mark on tennis with the ATP postponing Challenger Tour events and the WTA cancelling two tournaments.
The tennis world will be descending on Indian Wells in the coming days and the organisers have already made some provisions with the introduction of over 250 hand sanitisers.
A statement to the New York Times read: “We are closely watching the developments with the coronavirus.
“We remain very positive about this year’s BNP Paribas Open and look forward to welcoming everyone to Indian Wells very soon.
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“We are in constant communication with the WTA and ATP Tour, are following the guidelines of the Eisenhower Medical Centre, the Riverside County Health Department and the CDC, and continuing to monitor the situation.
“We have more than 250 additional hand sanitisers throughout the facility and are proactively working with our staff, volunteers and vendors to review best health practices and protocol.
“As always our absolute top priority is the health and safety of the athletes, fans and everyone involved with the tournament.”
But according to The Times, a further measure being considered is a ban on ball-kids handling the player’s towels between points.
At the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan, players use a towel rack at the end of the court if they need to use them.
In the Davis Cup, Japan are playing Ecuador and the ball persons are wearing gloves and using a basket to transfer the towels to the players to avoid the spread of the virus.
Despite the worries, Indian Wells is still expected to go ahead and there are no plans to postpone the event.
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