Despite efforts put up by the organisers of the Indian Wells tournament to greatly reduce the threat of coronavirus, the event has been cancelled due to a new case of the virus in the Coachella area, close to the venue of the tournament.
This led to the declaration of a public state of emergency for cities close to the Coachella Valley, including Indian Wells.
Last week, the organisers introduced some new rules that would serve to maintain order and greatly reduce the odds of transferring the disease from one person to the other. Some of the measures include the players handling their towels by themselves rather than giving it to ball kids.
Also, those selling tickets and other staff were to wear hand gloves throughout. The venue of the event was also to be sprayed with antiviral agents every day. Even though the measures put in place seemed effective enough, the newly confirmed case of coronavirus over the weekend has put things in jeopardy.
Already, players, including Rafael Nadal, taking a part in the event had arrived to play in the qualifying round that was to hold on Monday.
Cancelling the event, as explained by WTA Tour Chief Executive, Steve Simon was something they supported, but do not feel it is in the best interest of the tournament.
He also said it was to soon to state if other upcoming events would be cancelled in a similar fashion. He explained how, earlier, they had tried to see if the event could be held indoors, but the tournament officials had rejected the idea.
David Agus, who is a professor at the University of Southern California, said, “it is not in the best interest of the fans, players and neighbouring areas for this tournament to proceed.”
The Indian Wells tournament could have attracted over 400,000 fans and such a large number in a time like this could be a very great risk. Director of the tournament, former world number 2, Tommy Haas, has expressed that the organisers were exploring other options and considering future dates when they could hold the event.
Written by: Leon Osamor