Rafael Nadal has issued a rallying cry and called on Spanish athletes to help raise 11 million euros ($12.07 million) to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain is one of the most heavily affected countries in the world with more than 56,000 cases and 4000 deaths.
Rafael Nadal of Spain.Credit:AP
Nadal said he spoke with NBA's Pau Gasol about what they could do to help and came up with the initiative to support the Red Cross in procuring protective equipment and infrastructure to assist vulnerable families in Spain affected by the virus.
"I think that we're the athletes that we are in large part because of your support and now is that time that your athletes don't fail you," Nadal said in a video.
"We reached the conclusion that now is the time to launch an initiative which we hope that all Spanish sports come together in a show of solidarity and a good example of unity to align ourselves with the Red Cross Responde.
"The objective is clear, it's to raise 11 million euros to help 1.35 million people. We trust that all of Spanish sport comes on board… Pau and I have already made our donations and we trust in you to make sure that this is our best victory."
But as tennis' wealthiest respond, others have signed a petition calling for struggling players to be given financial assistance. For players below the ATP and WTA Tours who often live hand to mouth, the concerns are more serious than simply how to stay fit and pass the time.
Georgian player Sofia Shapatava, ranked 371, said: ‘‘I had many conversations with my colleagues and friends about their plans for the upcoming months. Lower- ranked tennis players have no savings and it is a very hard topic.
‘‘Usually everyone makes money on the side by coaching or club matches or prizemoney tournaments but, in this situation, countries are on lockdown so there is no way to get additional income. We have no security, nor does anyone take care of us.
‘‘I am worried indeed. I am sure I can put food on the table. But nobody stopped bills and we still have to pay for everything every month, and it is very hard to do when you stay without income completely for a couple of months.
‘‘And, even if I have some money, I know many others who don’t know how to support themselves more then a week or two. Also many people will quit to play as, after spending all the last cents on surviving, not many will be able to just go and travel again.’’
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: ‘‘Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume.’’
‘‘I understand that there are far bigger problems in the world than tennis," Shapatava said. "And I wish everyone health. But, just because there is one huge problem, it does not mean other problems don’t exist.’’
On Wednesday, Roger Federer said he was donating one million Swiss Francs ($1.03 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.
Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had each donated one million euros ($1.08 million) to help clinics and medical centres fight the outbreak while Cristiano Ronaldo donated lifesaving equipment to Portuguese hospitals.
Real Madrid said the club's Santiago Bernabeu stadium will be used as a makeshift storage facility while Sergio Ramos and his wife Pilar Rubio donated 264,000 face masks and 15,000 coronavirus testing kits through charitable organisation UNICEF.
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