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Tennis Is Being Played • For How Long? Where? How? New York City? • New Changes Daily

Arthur Ashe stadium will be empty when it hosts the US Open in August.

By Alix Ramsay

Let me see if I can get this straight: the USTA is still going full steam ahead to get the US Open up and running by the end of August. The WTA and ATP are still intending to run the Madrid and Rome events in the two weeks before the start of the rescheduled Roland Garros (RG starts on September 27) and both tours are still listing their tournaments in China during the autumn on their events schedule. So far, so understandable.

But the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, recently imposed 14-day quarantine restrictions on anyone crossing the New York border from the worst affected states in the country. It is not just international travellers he doesn’t want; it is domestic travellers, too.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo imposed a 14-day quarantine restriction on anyone crossing the New York border from the worst affected states in the country.

In June, a list of nine states was published. Anyone (including New York residents) who had visited these states had to go into quarantine for a fortnight. Just two weeks later, that list had expanded to 19 states as the Covid-19 virus swept the country. The list now covers anywhere from Alabama to Utah.

As for foreigners – the Federal Government had put a stop to them coming into the country long ago, although exceptions were made for athletes and their entourages. At the same time, the European Union will not allow anyone from the US into the bloc. Not only does that put the mockers on the 17 women and eight men from the US who currently inhabit the top 100 but it could also make life awkward for all those European players wanting to rush straight from the US Open to the clay court swing leading into Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, in China, the General Administration of Sports announced two days ago that they were cancelling all international sports events for the rest of the year. Only the Beijing 2022 test events will be allowed to go ahead. Golf, F1 and, of course, tennis, have been binned for the time being.

However, on the ATP’s website, its four tournaments in China – including Beijing and Shanghai – are listed as “TBD” (whatever that means – To Be Determined? To Be Decided? To Be Dumped?). The WTA are even more optimistic and post five of their seven autumn gigs in the People’s Republic as “Draw size TBD” while their two showcase events, the WTA Finals in Shenzhen and the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, appear to be going ahead as planned. Well, they are still on the schedule.

China is cancelling all international sports events for the rest of the year.

In a statement, the WTA did not appear to be convinced that the China ban applied to them.

“To our knowledge, the report that has been circulated regarding a principle on international sporting events in China does not represent a final decision,” the statement read.

“The WTA continues to work closely with our events in China and the CTA (Chinese Tennis Association) and we will advise when we have more information.

“We remain on track with our decision timeline regarding the 2020 WTA Tour provisional calendar, which will be by the end of July.”

It is a worry when people take pronouncements from the Chinese government and think that they do not “represent a final decision”. The culture in China is very different from that in the West but of one thing we can all be sure: when the Chinese authorities say something, they mean it. Just ask the people of Hong Kong.

To put it another way: every week, I hand over my £2 to the wee man in the newsagents in the belief that I am about to win the lottery. But for some strange reason, the lottery people take my money, put it in the prize pot and then hand the pot over to somebody else. Happens every Saturday night. I stand there, clutching my ticket (which, it has to be said, never has a single winning number printed upon it) yelling at the television: “Is that your final decision? I demand a recount!”. But nothing ever happens. I don’t even get my two quid back. Yet the WTA thinks that this is an argument it can win.

But back to the basic logic: countries around the world are slowly and nervously coming out of lockdown. They are cautiously opening their bars and restaurants, their schools and their museums, and they are allowing their own people a little freedom. But none of them want anyone else to come along. They do not want to risk people other countries coming in and bringing that damned bug with them. And you cannot really blame them.

Even China, where the government may not have been the first to admit it had a problem with Covid-19, is not willing to take any chances. Anything that is deemed an unnecessary risk has been cancelled. It only seems sensible.

International Covid-19 Map

But tennis is flinging itself back into an international schedule with players moving from country to country and it is starting this mad dash in the United States which has the worst infection rates in the world.

Is it me or is there something dreadfully wrong with this picture?