A 'Tennis Is Cancelled' sign flashes outside the Indian Wells Tennis Garden
A 'Tennis Is Cancelled' sign flashes outside the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Image Credit: AFP

Los Angeles: The announcement late on Sunday that the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells will not be held as scheduled because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 virus sent shock waves through the tennis world. Many players and others connected with the sport took to social media to express their thoughts, and organisers of the next big tournament, the Miami Open, issued a statement to say their event “is moving forward as scheduled.” That tournament is scheduled to be played March 23 to April 5.

“Safety remains a top priority, and we are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely with local, state and federal officials and health organisations in the lead up to the tournament,” Miami Open organisers said in a statement. “In addition, we are working with the ATP and WTA tours on recommended best practices and following CDC guidelines closely to provide a safe environment for fans, players and staff.”

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi also issued a statement Monday.

“While we regret that the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will not take place, the ATP Tour calendar beyond Indian Wells remains as status quo. We continue to monitor the situation daily, working closely with our player and tournament members with the understanding that direction must be taken from local public health authorities,” he said. “We are committed to exploring all options for the operation of upcoming tournaments as the health and safety of our players and all other stakeholders remain our top priority. Any further updates will be communicated on ATP platforms.”

Rafael Nadal, No. 2 in the men’s rankings, was in the desert practicing for the BNP Paribas Open when the decision was made.

“You probably all heard the news. Indian Wells cancelled. We are here and still deciding what’s next,” he said on Twitter. “So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.”

Rising women’s star Caty McNally also took to twitter.

“Was really looking forward to playing in @BNPParibasOpen, but health and safety must come first,” she said. “See y’all soon.”

Sloane Stephens retweeted the tournament’s announcement that the event would not be played and added, “So sad about this (crying emoji) but as they said priority has to be everyone’s health and safety!! Praying this gets better.”

Nicole Gibbs of Venice, who had been given a wild-card entry into the women’s qualifying draw, said, “Would like to request a deep breath from the tennis community to consider the far reaching impacts of @BNPPARIBASOPEN ‘postponement.’ So much bigger than players, journalists, sponsors. Huge economic blow to local business, not to mention stirring health anxiety. Perspective plz!”