The largest tennis tournament outside of the four grand slams has been cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak fears.
The BNP Paribas Open, also known as Indian Wells, has been called off after a confirmed case of coronavirus was discovered locally.
The tournament would have featured the world’s best tennis players, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams among those entered into the event.
World No.1 Ash Barty was among the players to have already touched down in the Californian desert in preparation for the tournament.
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The Indian Wells tournament has been cancelled, meaning a missed opportunity for fans to see stars like Naomi Osaka in action. Picture: Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP
Remarkably, the tournament has been called off two days before it was due to begin on March 11, based on medical advice.
“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,” tournament director Tommy Haas said.
“We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
Just hours before the tournament was cancelled, Aussie Ash Barty posted a photo during practice session at Indian Wells.
“So good to be back in Indian Wells. Always a favourite on our calendar,” she wrote with the image.
Spanish maestro Nadal had also posted about the now-cancelled tournament.
Organisers of the tournament, which takes place in the Southern California desert, had originally planned for players to manage their own towels on court and for ball kids to wear gloves while working at matches. The ball kids would not have been permitted to touch player towels.
It had also offered worried fans refunds or a credit for the 2021 event if they had already bought tickets but no longer wished to attend due to outbreak fears.
But the Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley on Monday (Australian time), forcing the cancellation.
Novak Djokovic in action at last year’s Indian Wells tournament.Source:Getty Images
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“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California said.
“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 event was due to run from March 11-22.
The Miami Open, the next combined big tournament on the tennis calendar, is scheduled to start on March 23.
“We are disappointed our fans will not be able to come out and watch the event, and our players are also disappointed to not compete over the next two weeks …”, WTA chairman Steve Simon said in a statement.
“However, we understand the decision which has been made in the interest of public health and safety which is the top priority at this time.
“It is too soon to speculate about what will happen to other tournaments that follow. We will continue to minotor the situation. Health and safety will always come first.”
The 2020 BNP Paribas Open will not be held.https://t.co/BVKQmmcbth pic.twitter.com/CHOd0PgJeV
Originally published asTennis tournament cancelled due to coronavirus
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