For tennis fans and players, the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells is a major blow in what is a surprising move by the organisers who only announced the decision on Sunday night.
We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place ..... We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options Tommy Haas, Tournament Director
It is the first major event to cancelled thanks to the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 and could well lead to others following suit.
Indian Wells hosts both an ATP Masters plus WTA Premier Mandatory event and is commonly known as the ‘Fifth Grand Slam’.It was due to kick off midweek so many of the players are already there preparing for the one of the highlight tournaments of the year.
Citing the public health emergency declared by the Riverside County Public Health Department due to a local case of COVID-19 and “the safety of the participants and attendees,” tournament organizers went ahead and cancelled the tournament, making it the biggest sports event in the world to become a victim of the coronavirus.
“This is following the guidance of medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California,” the statement added.
Qualifying play was to have begun Monday. Main-draw play was to have begun Wednesday and end on March 22. Some players were already on site to practice and get accustomed to the hot, dry desert air.
“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,” tournament director Tommy Haas said. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
That is unlikely in view of the packed schedule which both the ATP and WTA oversee.
Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage had reported early Sunday it was treating a patient for a presumptive case of coronavirus.
“We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” Martin Massiello, executive vice president of chief operating officer of the centre said in a statement.
Those who purchased tickets directly from the tournament can request a refund or request a credit for the 2021 tournament.
Steve Simon, chairman and chief executive officer of the WTA said he understands the reasons for the cancellation.
“It is too soon to speculate about what will happen to other tournaments that follow. We will continue to closely monitor the situation. Health and safety will always come first.”
The next top-level tournament on the calendar for the men and women is the Miami Open, scheduled for March 24 through April 4.