Following the disastrous news that the Chinese events have been cancelled for this year – a decision which affects the WTA greatly as, amongst the seven events affected, it includes the prestigious end of season WTA Championships – the organisation has just learnt that their Palermo Ladies Open will now be affected by a coronavirus quarantine.
"The provision would penalise a player like (Romanian) Simona Halep, world's number two and Wimbledon's reigning champion, who wouldn't take part in Palermo's tournament anymore Tournament director Oliviero Palma
Yesterday’s decision by the Italian government that people who have been in Romania and Bulgaria in the past 14 days prior to their arrival in Italy will be quarantined for a further 14 days on arrival, has been reached to prevent the importation of COVID-19 from countries which have seen a rise within their own borders.
This decision affects Palermo as their main attraction is the Romanian world No.2 Simona Halep as the event in the Sicilian capital marks – on August 3 – the restart of professional tennis since last March when the men’s and women’s tours was forced into suspension by the pandemic.
Tournament director Oliviero Palma said organisers have written an urgent letter beseeching the Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza, for an exemption for tennis players taking part in the event.
“The provision would penalise a player like (Romanian) Simona Halep, world’s number two and Wimbledon’s reigning champion, who wouldn’t take part in Palermo’s tournament anymore,” Palma stated.
Palermo will have strict health precautions and all players will undergo coronavirus tests before they come, on arrival and every subsequent four days.
“We’re convinced that the health protocols adopted by the WTA are so strict to guarantee the safety and health not only of athletes, yet also of all the various workers involved in the event,” Palma continued.
“I’m convinced that there are all the necessary conditions and guarantees to give a derogation for all tennis players coming from Romania or Bulgaria, in order to avoid their quarantine and, hence, their retirement from the tournament.”
Meanwhile looking further ahead, the organisers at next year’s Australian Open, have revealed their own bio-security plans which also involves fewer spectators and the likelihood of none from overseas.
Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia Tiley says the tournament in January 2021 will have reduced seating in accordance with social distancing conventions andplayers will be in a secure bio-security “bubble”.
However he will be keeping a watchful eye during the US Open and French Open events and assess what can be learnt from them to improve their own operation.
If current planning continues, there’ll be only half that many spectators in Melbourne Park’s main show court in 2021, and any overseas players who win the title will have spent some time in quarantine on their arrival in Australia, been tested for COVID-19, stay at one of the official bio-secure tournament hotels and travel to the tournament site in sealed transport.