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CORONAVIRUS & TENNIS—ATP, ITF suspend for 6 weeks; some WTA events off
Following the recent cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the affected ATP Tour events are Miami, Houston, Marrakech, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Budapest. On the WTA, Miami, Charleston and Bogota have been cancelled.
Published Mar 13, 2020
Stay tuned for continued updates to this developing story. Our last update was at 8:45 p.m. ET.
On a week when the effects of the coronavirus—in particular, preventing the spread of COVID-19—are being felt in all aspects of daily life, sports were not spared. The Ivy League cancelled all of its teams' spring sports seasons on Tuesday, and then the rest of college athletics followed their lead a few days later. Countless games and events have been postponed around the world; the few that are still taking place are doing so without fans.
In the United States, the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the incredibly popular event held every March, was to be played "with only essential staff and limited family attendance"—translation: no fans—before it was cancelled outright. On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended its season while games were taking place after a player tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL and other professional sports leagues soon followed.
The latest impacts on tennis came Thursday, with a cascade of cancellations. In the morning, it was announced that the two-week, dual-tour Miami Open was cancelled, in a statement from the mayor of Miami, Carlos A. Gimenez.
Shortly after, the ATP confirmed the cancellation of the Miami Open with an announcement that it would suspend the tour completely for six weeks.
Below is the full press release, with our emphasis in bold.
"The ATP has announced a six-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 and ATP Challenger Tour events scheduled up to and inclusive of the week of April 20 will not take place.
Following the recent cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the affected ATP Tour events are the Miami Open presented by Itau, the Fayez Sarofim & Co U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, and the Hungarian Open in Budapest.
The six-week suspension comes in the wake of the World Health Organization’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. The suspension follows numerous local government orders on restrictions, bans or cancellations of public gatherings or events. The ATP has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation related to COVID-19, taking advice from medical experts and travel advisors and consulting with all local regulatory authorities, and will continuously review the feasibility of subsequent events in the calendar.
Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, 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 suspension of ATP events takes place with immediate effect, meaning this week’s ATP Challenger tournaments in Nur Saltan, Kazhakstan, and Potchefstroom, South Africa, are not able to be completed.
The ATP is carefully reviewing the broad impact of this evolving situation related to FedEx ATP Rankings points, and any decisions will be announced in due course. In addition, in full collaboration with the ITF, FedEx ATP Rankings points will not be available at any ITF World Tennis Tour events during the suspension period."
The International Tennis Federation announced a similar suspension, of all ITF-owned and sanctioned events, up to April 20.
In the afternoon, the WTA confirmed the tournament cancellations of the Miami Open and the Volvo Car Open in Charleston. In its statement, WTA CEO Steve Simon said the tour will make a decision about the European clay-court season "in the week ahead."
Later Thursday evening, the WTA announced that the tour's Copa Colsanitas, in Bogota, Colombia, and the 125k event in Guadalajara, Mexico, were cancelled.
Players roundly supported the measures, including Diego Schwartzman, who had one of the first tweets applauding the ATP's decision:
On Tennis Channel Live, 24th-ranked Taylor Fritz discussed what he'll be doing during the extended tennis hiatus:
To get a sense of how swift the suspension was, consider Jack Draper's match on Thursday, which took place in an ATP Challenger event in South Africa. According to The Times journalist Stuart Fraser, Draper was a game away from victory when rain fell. With the ATP suspension announced during the delay, the match never resumed.
Amidst all of this, the Davis Cup held its draw for its 2020 finals, scheduled to be played November 23-29 in Madrid.
Coronavirus' impact on tennis began Sunday night, when Indian Wells' BNP Paribas Open was called off. On Tuesday, Spain's tennis federation asked that no spectators attend matches "until further notice." On Wednesday, the Fed Cup Finals and Play-offs were postponed; the Finals were scheduled to be played in Budapest, Hungary. In addition, the Easter Bowl—the prestigious junior tennis tournament—was cancelled; it was scheduled to be held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden from March 28 to April 5.
WATCH—Jon Wertheim's reaction to the rash of sports cancellations and postponements: