Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves the ball to Tunisia's Malek Jaziri during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves the ball to Tunisia's Malek Jaziri during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Tournament Director of the Dubai Tennis Championships has insisted that the last two days of the fortnight-long event will go ahead as per schedule.

Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director told Gulf News that there is no need for concern over the possible spread of the coronavirus at the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open that is scheduled to end with the doubles and singles finals late on Saturday.

“We are safe and there have been no incidents reported here. None of our players who are remaining have reported any symptoms, so there’s no need to be unnecessarily worried,” Tahlak said.

“Honestly, there is no need to create any sort of panic at this event. We have taken necessary precautions at the main centre court and also at the side courts by installing precautions and information regarding COVID-19,” he added.

Salah Tahlak Image Credit:

Organisers Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced the instant cancellation of the seven-day UAE Tour cycling without hosting the last two stages of the competition, in the late hours of Thursday after two Italians were tested positive for the novel coronavirus. “The decision has been taken to ensure protection of all the race participants,” said a communication from the ADSC, adding that “safety comes at the top of all priorities.”

Tahlak insisted that the organising committee at the tennis — often referred to as the dream team — has been constantly in touch internally assessing the situation on a day-to-day basis. “We owe this to everyone who comes and is part of our event, be it from the UAE or visitors who specially attend matches over the two weeks of excellent tennis,” Tahlak said.

“We have another two days to go [Friday including] and we have even weighed the prospect of making announcements over the public address system at the stadium cautioning people to seek consultation, should there be any symptoms among anyone,” Tahlak said.

“As organisers of an international event of this stature, we are also in constant touch with the governing bodies [ATP, WTA and ITF] to ensure we follow procedures laid down. We need to be delicate here as our intention is not to create any sort of panic among the people coming to enjoy some really high-quality tennis,” he added.

Saturday’s men’s doubles final will be held at 5pm followed by the singles final from 7pm, after which most players will head out for their Davis Cup engagements.