The WTA’s woes continue as news broke of a player testing positive for coronavirus at the Palermo Open follows hot on the heels of the cancellation of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan.
The effectiveness of the protocols and related controls allowed us to intercept a positive case among the players who arrived in Palermo. The same player, awaiting the test results, had always remained in her hotel room. Professor Antonio Cascio, WTA Palermo Open's anti-COVID consultant.
The player was not named in the announcement, but was later reported by AFP as being 130th-ranked Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova, who had been due to take part in qualifying and withdrew citing illness.
The player had no symptoms but pulled out just before qualifying started for the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19, and has now gone into quarantine.
The main draw of the event, scheduled to be the first after the WTA Tour shut down in March because of the pandemic, begins in Sicily on Monday 3 August.
It comes as a blow to organisers after Simona Halep, the World No 2, withdrew from the event earlier this week citing a rise in coronavirus cases in Romania and anxieties surrounding international air travel.
“The effectiveness of the protocols and related controls allowed us to intercept a positive case among the players who arrived in Palermo,” said Professor Antonio Cascio, the tournament’s anti-COVID consultant.
“The same player, awaiting the test results, had always remained in her hotel room.”
Organisers say the tournament will go ahead as planned in line with WTA protocols, so any individuals defined as a close contact of the affected player will undergo further testing.
Toray Pan Pacific cancelled
Originally scheduled to be held at Tokyo’s Ariake Tennis Park in November, the Toray Pan Pacific Open is the last of 3 Japanese tournaments to get the axe over concerns surrounding the virus.
Previously scrapped were the Hana-Cupid Japan Women’s Open and the Rakuten Japan Open, with the latter being part of the men’s ATP Tour.
“The Executive Committee looked at every possible way to make this tournament happen, including the idea of holding matches without audiences or restricting admissions in order to prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved,” said the organisers in a statement.
“However, after a series of deliberations, the Executive Committee made a heartrending decision to rule out the postponement, and concluded that the cancellation of the tournament was the best decision in the interest of public health, especially in light of the concern about the second wave of infection spreading in Japan.”
A regular part of the Asian WTA calendar, the Pan Pacific Open has been held every year since its inauguration in 1984.
The hard court tournament is rated as a WTA Premier Tournament and had already been postponed from September to November after the ATP and WTA Tours were disrupted.
Naomi Osaka, Japan’s top player, won her 4th WTA title and first on home soil at last year’s Pan Pacific Open, in a 6-2 6-3 victory over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
To date, there have been more than 30,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan, resulting in the deaths of 998 people, with daily cases recently hitting an all-time high in Tokyo.
Ariake Tennis Park is due to host the tennis events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which have been postponed until next year because of the virus.
The announcement followed the cancellation of 7 WTA and 4 ATP events in China, including the lucrative season-ending WTA Championships in which the women’s tour organisation is financially dependent.