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Tennis News • 2020 BNP Paribas Open In Indian Wells Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

By Ricky Dimon

The Cornavirus is wreaking havoc around the world and sporting events are not immune. In fact, they may be the least immune kind of event given that lots of people from lots of different parts of the world are in attendance.

Cancellations are possible, probable, and in some cases have already happened–mostly in Asia and Italy, but now in the United States as well. A bombshell–perhaps the first of many–was dropped on Sunday when the BNP Paribas Open announced that the 2020  California event will not be held. That’s right; the biggest Masters 1000 tournament of the year is off.

Earlier this week the tournament was scheduled to proceed as planned, albeit with plenty of precautions. Tournament officials on Friday released the following statement regarding the coronavirus:

“Following the direction and guidance of Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, and Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health, the BNP Paribas Open is taking action to continue prioritizing the health and safety of the fans, athletes, and everyone involved with the tournament.

“First and foremost, any patron who has purchased tickets directly from the tournament may request a refund for the 2020 tournament, or a credit for the 2021 tournament. Patrons can visit www.bnpparibasopen.com/coronavirus to request a refund or credit.

“Additional actions include:

  • More than 250 hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the facility
  • Players will be required to manage their own towel on court and ball kids will not touch or move player towels. A chair will be placed at the back of the court for them to place their towel on for usage during the match.
  • Ball kids will wear gloves
  • Restaurant and food supply workers will wear gloves
  • Volunteers taking tickets at entrances will wear gloves
  • N95 masks are being secured for first aid and health personnel to be prepared for any circumstances that would necessitate the use thereof
  • Organized player and fan interaction will be limited at the tournament
  • All common areas throughout the facility will be cleaned daily with an antiviral application
  • Coordinating with local hospital and CDC approved testing for all individuals with symptoms

Further actions are being considered and evaluated on a daily basis in order to continue to ensure the safety of everyone associated with the event.”

In a rapidly escalating situation, “further actions” did in fact become necessary. And that action was cancellation of the entire event.

“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.”

For now there were no options–not after the Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley when a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed locally. Cancellation of the tournament followed the guidance of medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California.

“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,” explained Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”

“We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” added Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health.

With health and safety coming first, right now tennis is coming last. And Indian Wells may not be the last casualty.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • We are glad the tournament cancelled. We are sorry they waited till the last few hours to do it.

There’s not less than 400 professional tennis players in Indian Wells – for qualies. For singles and doubles. It’s men and women. And their families, trainers, coaches, and support staffs.

But it was the right call. We said this last week.

• Our apologies and sorry to Wayne Arthurs. You arrived after traveling 30 odd hours from Australia to hear us tell you hello and goodbye. Sorry. Not much of a welcome mat for you. But this is no ordinary virus. (LJ)

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