Professional tennis with fans will be given another shot at two events next month, with organizers saying they will be more careful about adhering to protocols than the troubled Adria Tour.
The DraftKings All-American Team Cup will be played in Atlanta next week with plans for 450 spectators, while two events in Berlin will have 1,000 and 300 spectators each.
The Atlanta event features the eight highest-ranked Americans on the ATP tour, before the coronavirus suspended operations in early March. John Isner, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Sam Querrey, Tennys Sangren, Steve Johnson, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe will compete in two teams from July 3-5.
The stands are to be filled to no more than one-third capacity, with spacing between groups of seats and empty rows between spectators. Players will also get housing on the same floor at the event.
"We feel like we have an opportunity to show the world that a live tennis event with fans can be successful," said Eddie Gonzalez, the tournament director, speaking to Forbes. "It's important that we’re successful because that will help pave the way for the rest of the tours moving forward."
The German events are to be played at Steffi Graf stadium in Berlin with a thousand spectators and at an airport hangar around the city with 300 spectators.
"When we host the tournament in mid-July, there will be a strict [safety] concept that we will coordinate with the Berlin Senate all regulations and to test the players beforehand," said Barbara Rittner, the tournament director, speaking to DW. "This is one of the requirements for these events."
Rittner also criticized the way the Adria Tour was conducted.
"Novak Djokovic, as the world No. 1 and president of the player council is also a role model, a function that he has by no means fulfilled here," Rittner said, adding that his actions during the event were "arrogant and ignorant during a time when large parts of the world are trying to keep the virus under control."
The Adria Tour series in the Balkans was canceled partway through after four players, including organizer Djokovic, tested positive for COVID-19. The event's first two stops had thousands in the stands and the players had regular interaction off the court, including going to a nightclub.
Tour competition is not schedule to resume for another five weeks, beginning with a WTA tournament in Palermo on August 3.