Coronavirus scare: After Miami, ATP suspends men's tour for six weeks

Updated: 13 March, 2020 08:27 IST | AFP | London

The joint ATP and (women's) WTA tournament in Miami, one of the biggest to be held outside the four Grand Slams, had been due to start with qualifying on March 23 until the mayor of Miami-Dade County pulled the plug

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

The ATP announced Thursday it was suspending the men's tennis tour for six weeks "due to escalating health and safety issues" arising from the coronavirus pandemic. All events on the ATP Tour and second-tier ATP Challenger Tour are cancelled until April 27. The announcement came shortly after the cancellation of the Miami Open, which followed the axing of Indian Wells and postponement of the Fed Cup finals. The joint ATP and (women's) WTA tournament in Miami, one of the biggest to be held outside the four Grand Slams, had been due to start with qualifying on March 23 until the mayor of Miami-Dade County pulled the plug.

"This is not a decision that was taken lightly," said ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, referring to the six-week suspension. "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."

The International Tennis Federation, which runs the lower tiers of the professional game as well as the junior and senior circuits, followed the ATP by announcing there would be no tournaments on any of its tours until April 20 at the earliest. "This will be reviewed on a weekly basis but no ITF events will take place until at least the week of Monday, April 20," the sport's governing body said in a statement. It added: "The health and safety of players, player support teams, event staff and spectators must be the priority.

It is not possible to predict the length of time that tennis as a whole will be affected by COVID-19, but we will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly." The current ATP Challenger tournaments in South Africa and Kazakhstan were called off, mid-match in some cases. If the situation allows, the ATP Tour will resume with low-key tournaments in Munich and Estoril beginning on April 27, followed a week later by the Madrid Open. The second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open, is still scheduled to start in Paris on May 24.

The virus, which has so far infected more than 127,000 people globally and killed over 4,600, according to an AFP tally, is wreaking havoc on global sport.

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First Published: 13 March, 2020 08:01 IST

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