Tennis’ stunned reaction to virus call

The 2020 BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in southern California, has been cancelled over concerns about the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus, organisers said.

The tournament, considered the biggest outside the four Grand Slams, was due to begin on Wednesday in Indian Wells. It’s the first major US sport event to be cancelled because of concern over the virus.

Organisers had said they planned to go ahead with extra health measures in place. But they opted to cancel after the health department of California’s Riverside County declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley — in the desert east of Los Angeles — after a confirmed case of COVID-19 locally.

Watch over 50 sports LIVE on Kayo! Stream to your TV, mobile, tablet or computer. Just $25/month, cancel anytime. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Rafael Nadal was meant to compete at the Paribas OpenSource:AP

“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” said tournament director Tommy Haas.

“We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”

Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering Dr. David Agus said the decision was necessary to ensure the safety of participants and attendees.

“There is too great a risk at this time to the public health of the Riverside County are in holding a large gathering of this size,” Agus said in a statement.

“It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighbouring areas for this tournament to proceed.

“We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”

The City of Indian Wells also released a statement, supporting the decision.

“The City of Indian Wells urges all residents in the Coachella Valley to follow the recommended protocols,” the statement read.

“Wash your hands, stay away from the public if you are sick, avoid sick people, clean surfaces.

“A particularly clean lifestyle now is more important than ever.”

Tennis writers and coaches reacted with shock to the announcement.

Global effects continue to play out.
Didn’t see this coming.

I'm… in shock.

They just cancelled @BNPPARIBASOPEN ! Wow! Feel terrible for everyone…. the organizers, the fans, sponsors and the players. This is a crazy situation but it’s better to keep everyone safe.

Wonder how long before March Madness canceled this is getting out of control quickly

Holy cow. The biggest tennis tournament in the world that isn't a Slam just canceled the entire 2-week event right before it was about to start

Players took to Twitter and claimed they weren’t even informed of the decision, instead forced to find out on social media.

Sorana Cirstea and Kirsten Flipkens were among those to voice their frustration about the way the announcement was handled.

An hour before the decision was made, Flipkens wrote: “We know nothing so far.”

When the call was confirmed, she tweeted “what the f***?!?!?!” before having a crack at the WTA.

@WTA isnt the least you can do is organizing an emergency meeting with the players????

Yes i found out from twitter just now

Refunds for this year’s event or a credit toward next year’s tournament are being offered.

The event — founded in 1974 — typically draws upwards of 450,000 fans. Global superstars Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Ash Barty, along with Australian Open winners Sofia Kenin and Novak Djokovic were set to feature in the two-week tournament.

Earlier in the week, officials had announced several measures to protect players, fans and staff at the event. Ball kids were going to have to wear gloves and not touch the towels of players on the court.

Organised player and fan interaction was also going to be limited at the tournament which is informally referred to as the fifth Grand Slam because of its popularity with players and fans, many of whom come from overseas.

With wires

Source: Read Full Article