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Indian Wells tennis was postponed after coronavirus confirmation

The BNP Paribas Open, the almost major tennis tournament that will begin this week in the California desert, will not play as expected after a coronavirus case has been confirmed in the Coachella Valley.

It is the largest sporting event in the United States to be called up for concerns about the spread of the disease. The South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas was canceled on Friday.

The announcement came on Sunday evening after many players had already trained in the desert. Qualifying matches were to start on Monday, with the main women’s draws starting on Wednesday and the men’s draws starting on Thursday.

“We are here and we are still deciding which one will be next”, Rafael Nadal tweeted, the second player in the world. “So sad about everything that is happening around the world with this situation. We hope soon solutions from the authorities. Everything remains well and safe.”

The Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency for desert cities 110 miles east of Los Angeles, including Indian Wells, where the ATP and WTA tours were to take part in the two-week tournament.

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. California has reported 114 virus cases.

“There is currently too great a public health risk in the Riverside County area to hold a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California on Sunday. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and surrounding areas that this tournament proceeds. We must all unite to protect the community from the outbreak of the coronavirus.”

The event typically attracts 450,000 fans. It is commonly referred to as the “fifth slam” because of its popularity among players and its stature, ranking points and over $ 17 million in prize money which place it below the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. This year’s camp includes Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. Kim Clijsters was to continue his return to the event.

“It’s so sad to hear the news about the postponement of ΓåòBNPPARIASOPEN,” tweeted Gauff. “I was so excited to make my debut in IW, but safety is always the number 1 priority. Stay safe.”

Tournament director Tommy Haas said organizers are ready to attend the event on different dates and will explore options. However, the professional tennis calendar is tightly programmed and the desert summer months are notoriously hot.

“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 all those involved in the event. it is of paramount importance, “Haas said in a statement.

Already some small tennis events in China and Italy – the two countries most affected by the virus – had been affected. The Miami Open, which follows Indian Wells later this month, may be at risk. The Ultra music festival in that city has already been canceled. The second Grand Slam tournament of the year, the French Open, will take place in Paris in May.

The decision to postpone Indian Wells was based on guidance from medical professionals, disease control centers and California state officials, tournament officials said.

“We understand the decision that has been made in the interest of public health and safety, which is the top priority right now,” said Steve Simon, WTA president and CEO. “It is too early to speculate on what will happen to the other tournaments that follow. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. Health and safety will always come first.”

Refunds are offered for this year’s event or credit for next year’s tournament.

Riverside County health officials said the person with the first locally acquired coronavirus case is being treated at Eisenhower Health in nearby Rancho Mirage after being tested positively. The person is not identified because of the confidentiality rules.

Heath officials are following up on people who may have been exposed and investigations are underway to find out how the person contracted the disease.

It is the second case recorded in Riverside County. A passenger on a Riverside County cruise ship has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is recovering from a medical facility in Northern California. That person hasn’t returned home since he left the Diamond Princess ship.

“We always knew this was a possibility,” said the first case. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County Public Health Officer. “We have planned for weeks and are ready to take the necessary measures to protect the health of our local community.”

A charity event with Nadal set for Tuesday evening at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has been canceled, tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen said.

Nadal was joined by defender of BNP Paribas Open champions Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and American Taylor Fritz for the Eisenhower Cup, a $ 150,000 winning event.

Earlier this week, officials announced several measures to protect players, fans and staff during the tennis tournament.

Children with the ball should have worn gloves and not touched the players’ towels on the pitch. Organized interaction between players and fans would also have been limited to the tournament. In addition to the children with the ball, the catering and food supply workers wore gloves and the volunteers who took the tickets at the entrance. Over 250 hand sanitization stations have been installed throughout the premises.

Other major sporting and entertainment events in the desert are scheduled for the next month.

The LPGA tour is to play the first women’s golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, from April 2nd to 5th in Rancho Mirage.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in nearby Indio is set for April 10-12 and April 17-19. It typically attracts 250,000 people over two weekends. The Stagecoach Festival, with country music, is scheduled for April 24 to 26 in the same Indio venue.

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