Game, set and watch

29 January,2022 06:55 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Ashwin Ferro

Here’s why organisers of Tata Open that gets underway in Pune tomorrow are having sleepless nights as they look to pull off India’s only ATP event in Covid cloud

Divij Sharan (left) and Rohan Bopanna with the men’s doubles winners trophy at the Tata Open in 2019

Some of the top sporting events in the country recently have been laid low by the dreaded Covid-19. The Indian women's football team were unable to play their AFC Cup match in Navi Mumbai against Chinese Taipei after some players tested positive.

The men's singles final of the Syed Modi India International badminton tournament had to be declared a No Match after one of the finalists tested positive too. The ongoing franchise-based Indian Super League has also had numerous positive cases. In such a scenario, it is only apt that the organisers of the Tata Open Maharashtra ATP event that gets underway at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune (January 31 February 6) tread with caution.

Tournament Director Prashant Sutar

"When we first decided to bring back India and South Asia's only ATP event this year [it was cancelled last year due to the Covid-situation], the Covid situation seemed to be getting better. But suddenly, there was a surge in cases with a new variant and it totally transformed things. Rules and regulations changed overnight and our operating plans continue to remain very fluid as we rework things on a daily basis," Tata Open's Tournament Director Prashant Sutar told mid-day on Friday.

Strict bio-bubble rules

The tournament will see over 70 players flying in from 23 countries and landing in a strict bio-bubble. "The players will not be allowed to breach the bio-bubble. They are only permitted to travel between their hotel room and the venue/court which is right next to their hotel. Daily testing is mandatory and we have tied up with a local hospital in case of any emergency.

"As per ATP's regulations, we have also appointed a Tournament Infection Control Officer (TICO) who will maintain a constant vigil in the hotel. If there are any positive cases, the TICO will segregate the ones who have tested positive and also identify their close contacts and isolate them on a separate floor which has been earmarked in the hotel.

"Unfortunately, in this new normal, most things are not in our control and all we can do is take precautions and follow all ATP protocols. We are keeping our fingers crossed that there is no untoward incident," explained Sutar. It is learnt that there is no common dining area for the players and they must eat in their rooms. The stress has been unimaginable, but if any of the Indian players can emerge victorious, that joy will outweigh all the negatives, felt Sutar.

That Bops-Divij win

"Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan winning the doubles title in 2019 remains one of our best memories. This time, Rohan will be partnering with Ramkumar Ramnathan and they won their first doubles title [Adelaide International ATP-250] earlier this month. It will be the icing on the cake and make all our efforts worthwhile, if they can win the title here," Sutar concluded.

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