Tennis’ stunned reaction to virus call
The 2020 BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, has been cancelled over concerns about the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus, organisers said Sunday.
The tournament, one of the biggest outside the four Grand Slams, was due to begin on Wednesday. It's the first major US sports event to be cancelled because of concern over the virus.
Organisers had said they planned to go ahead with extra health measures in place. But they opted to cancel after the health department of California's Riverside County declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley - in the desert east of Los Angeles - after a confirmed case of COVID-19 locally.
"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," said tournament director Tommy Haas.
"We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options."
Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering Dr. David Agus said the decision was necessary to ensure the safety of participants and attendees.
"There is too great a risk at this time to the public health of the Riverside County are in holding a large gathering of this size," Agus said in a statement.
"It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighbouring areas for this tournament to proceed.
"We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak."
The City of Indian Wells also released a statement, supporting the decision.
"The City of Indian Wells urges all residents in the Coachella Valley to follow the recommended protocols," the statement read.
"Wash your hands, stay away from the public if you are sick, avoid sick people, clean surfaces.
"A particularly clean lifestyle now is more important than ever."
Tennis writers and coaches have reacted to the shock announcement with bemusement and concern.
Global effects continue to play out.— roger rasheed (@roger_rasheed) March 9, 2020
Didn’t see this coming. https://t.co/Xi9iOa1jlg
I'm... in shock.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) March 9, 2020
They just cancelled @BNPPARIBASOPEN ! Wow! Feel terrible for everyone.... the organizers, the fans, sponsors and the players. This is a crazy situation but it’s better to keep everyone safe.— Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs) March 9, 2020
Wonder how long before March Madness canceled this is getting out of control quickly— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) March 9, 2020