Coronavirus | ATP, WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells cancelled

Huge attendance: The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells draws more than 400,000 fans each year.

Huge attendance: The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells draws more than 400,000 fans each year.   | Photo Credit: MATTHEW STOCKMAN

First major US sports event to be hit by coronavirus outbreak

The ATP and WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells has been cancelled over fears surrounding the new coronavirus outbreak, making it the first major sports event in the US to be scrubbed due to health concerns.

Health emergency

The tournament, one of the biggest outside the four tennis Grand Slams, was cancelled just days before it was due to begin. Officials said in a news release on Sunday they opted to cancel because California health officials had declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley after a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“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.

Days earlier, organisers had said they planned to go ahead with extra health measures in place such as hand-sanitising stations, improved cleaning protocols and gloves for ball kids, volunteers and food workers. The ATP and WTA had also issued virus-related guidelines, telling players not to accept items from fans to be autographed.

Before the cancellation, the tournament had offered to give refunds to anyone who had bought tickets, but did not want to attend. The tournament draws more than 400,000 fans each year.

Many of the players had already arrived in Indian Wells with qualifying matches scheduled to start on Monday and the main women's draw beginning on Wednesday. “I'm shook,” Canadian tennis star Denis Shapovalov wrote on his Twitter page.

The number of coronavirus cases in the US has exceeded 500 spread across more than 30 States.

“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said doctor David Agus, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California.

The fifth Slam

Indian Wells lasts two weeks and draws some of the largest crowds for a tennis event in North America. The number of competitors and lucrative prize money being offered for the men and women has helped earn it the nickname of ‘The Fifth Slam’.

There is also a men and women's tournament scheduled for Miami later this month but there was no word on any changes to that event.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:40:18 PM |

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