Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
London | ATP, WTA and ITF suspend tours for six weeks
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All tennis tournaments have been cancelled for the time being due to ongoing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19 as it is officially known.
We were looking forward to hosting another world-class event, but our priority remains the health and safety of everyone involved in the Miami Open, including the South Florida community. As a former player and now tournament director, I understand how disappointing it is for the players, fans, partners and tournament staff who worked tirelessly to get the site ready. James Blake
It has been confirmed, and the ATP, WTA and ITF are suspending all tournaments for the next 6 weeks in a bid to halt the spread of the virus and ensure the health of players, fans, organisers and volunteers.
The announcement came after the first Masters 1000 of the season, Indian Wells, was cancelled on Sunday evening, followed by a declaration of a state of emergency in Miami-Dade County by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, who made the decision to suspend operations of the Miami Open.
The 2020 Miami Open, therefore, will not now take place.
Tournament Director James Blake said: “We were looking forward to hosting another world-class event, but our priority remains the health and safety of everyone involved in the Miami Open, including the South Florida community.
“As a former player and now tournament director, I understand how disappointing it is for the players, fans, partners and tournament staff who worked tirelessly to get the site ready.
“We thank everyone for their understanding and support and look forward to returning to Hard Rock Stadium March 24 – April 6, 2021.
“We understand and support the Mayor’s decision as the health and safety of the community and everyone involved with the event remains our top priority.
“Our team will be in touch in the coming days with ticket holders regarding refunds.”
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO said: “Due to safety and health concerns surrounding the coronavirus, as well as the travel restrictions imposed on entering the United States from Europe, the Miami Open and the Volvo Car Open in Charleston will not be held at this time.
“There isn’t anything more important than protecting the health of our players, staff, volunteers, and fans who attend our events, along with the general public.
“We are disappointed but the decision has been made in the interest of public health and safety, which is the top priority.
“The WTA, working alongside our player and tournament leaders, will make a decision in the week ahead regarding the European clay court season.”
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Meanwhile, the ITF also announced that it will take the precautionary measure to postpone all ITF-owned and sanctioned events across the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour, the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors, the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour, and ITF Seniors Tour until at least the week of Monday, April 20.
This includes the Fed Cup Finals, originally scheduled to be held for 14-19 April in Budapest, as well as the Fed Cup Play-Offs, scheduled for the weekend of 17-18 April at 8 locations around the world.
This will be reviewed on a weekly basis by the ITF with the goal of enabling the resumption of playing opportunities as soon as the situation allows.
The ITF COVID-19 Advisory Group has been continuously monitoring the global spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus, in consultation with medical, travel and security experts as well as the relevant international and national authorities.
The tennis season is expected to resume by 27 April 27, according to official statements.
“The ATP has announced a 6-week suspension of the men’s professional tennis tour due to escalating health and safety issues arising from the global outbreak of COVID-19.
“The suspension means all ATP Tour, WTA Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events scheduled up to and inclusive of the week of April 20 will not take place.
“The 6-week suspension comes in the wake of the World Health Organisation’s declaration on Wednesday that COVID-19 constitutes a global pandemic and the 30-day travel restriction announced by the United States for foreign nationals from 26 European countries.”
Seven ATP Tour tournaments have been cancelled as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and more could follow as the situation worsens.
ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide.
“However we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.
“The worldwide nature of our sport and the international travel required presents significant risks and challenges in today’s circumstances, as do the increasingly restrictive directives issued by local authorities.
“We continue to monitor this on a daily basis and we look forward to the Tour resuming when the situation improves. In the meantime, our thoughts and well-wishes are with all those that have been affected by the virus.”
The 7 men’s events to be cancelled due to coronavirus are – Indian Wells, the Miami Open, the US Men’s Clay Court Championships, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.
ATP 250 events in Houston and Marrakech in April are also on the list of cancelled tournaments and then the first Masters 1000 event of the clay-court season in Monte Carlo.
The final 2 events in the 6-week hiatus are the Barcelona Open and Hungarian Open.
It is hoped the coronavirus situation will be clearer in 6 weeks when decisions will be made on whether to extend the break, which could have a knock-on effect on the French Open.
Officials at Roland Garros expressed their confidence that the clay-court Grand Slam will go ahead but in France, the total number of confirmed cases rose to 2,281 on Wednesday, with 48 deaths and 105 people in serious condition.
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Novak Djokovic was pictured leaving America before it was confirmed that there would be a 6-week suspension on the ATP Tour creating confusion among fellow players about whether the Miami Open would still take place amid conflicting media reports.
Djokovic’s fitness trainer Marco Panichi posted a picture on social media of the World No 1 on a plane with his team including Goran Ivanisevic, about to depart back to Europe on ‘the last plane home’.
As the Chairman of the ATP Player’s Council, Djokovic would have known of the decisions being made in Miami and a suspension of competition.
“So Djokovic is leaving US before any tournaments post IW are cancelled or postponed. What info am I missing?” was one speculative tweet.
A few hours later it was eventually confirmed that Miami would not take place and the tour had been suspended for 6 weeks.
World No 3 Dominic Thiem was the biggest name to react to the news, telling fans: “Unfortunately we have to wrap up and leave without playing a tournament here in the states!
“I’m very sorry for all the fans and people who worked hard the entire year to make these tournaments special and unique.
“At the moment we have to accept the decision and do our best to keep everybody healthy and safe!
“I’m already looking forward to hit some balls again and will keep all of you updated as soon as I get some news!”
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