Hope for tennis fans

S'pore Open may allow 250 spectators from semi-finals onwards - if conditions are right

Strict safety protocols are in place for the Singapore Tennis Open, including sanitising the OCBC Arena (above) before and after each session. Common areas are cleaned hourly.
Strict safety protocols are in place for the Singapore Tennis Open, including sanitising the OCBC Arena (above) before and after each session. Common areas are cleaned hourly.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The upcoming ATP 250 Singapore Tennis Open will start on Monday behind closed doors but up to 250 fans may be allowed for the semi-finals and final if there are no tournament-related positive coronavirus cases, among other factors like local transmissions, organisers said yesterday.

At least 200 players, staff and officials from overseas are expected for the week-long event at the OCBC Arena, with 50 players already in Singapore.

So far, there have been no positive Covid-19 results, noted organising committee chairman Lim Teck Yin, who is Sport Singapore's chief executive officer.

He added: "The biggest risk right now is imported transmissions as you can see on a daily basis, all the Covid-19 cases you see largely have been imported.

"These people are travelling in from Australia and other parts of the world."

International players will be tested upon arrival here and isolated until they receive a negative test result.

All players will undergo daily polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests throughout their stay in Singapore and will be further isolated in individual team bubbles.

They must also use the TraceTogether token or app while here.

Similar protocols are in place for foreign officials and tournament staff. They will be divided into different bubbles to reduce interaction.

Additionally, local tournament staff, officials and volunteers are required to undergo daily antigen rapid tests and will only be allowed on site after receiving a negative test result.

They will be socially-distanced and have no physical contact with players.

  • SAFETY PROTOCOLS

  • All foreign players, staff, officials to undergo daily Covid-19 PCR tests and move in a bubble.

    All personnel will do Safe Entry check-ins and temperature checks before entering the OCBC Arena.

    Masks must be worn at all times. Players may remove theirs only during matches or practice.

    Tournament staff, officials, players will operate in separate bubbles to minimise interaction.

    All participants are to maintain a two-metre distance.

    The tournament venue will be sanitised before and after each session. Common areas will be sanitised every hour.

    All local tournament staff will undergo daily antigen rapid tests.

    All players, staff, officials are reminded to sanitise their hands regularly.

Virtual press conferences and electronic line-calling are also in place while contingency plans have been made should a player or tournament staff test positive for Covid-19.

Lim said: "It's very important that when we host an international event like this, we're able to instil confidence not just in our partners but in the Singaporean public at large that, in spite of the pandemic situation, we're able to comply with national protocols and minimise all risks associated with Covid-19."

Tennis fan Man Yong Le was excited by the news and said he would try to get a ticket if spectators are allowed.

"After the WTA Finals left (Singapore in 2018), I thought tennis was going to die down (here) and I was quite bummed out but now it's back and I'm super excited.

"Hopefully we get the chance to watch them live," said the National University of Singapore undergraduate, 23, who started playing tennis in 2014.

"Watching the tour go all over the world, it's hard to imagine a place as small as Singapore having an ATP event so it's very exciting and it's a good start."

The Republic has in recent months resumed the staging of international sports events.

Mixed martial arts organisation One Championship has staged several live fights since Oct 9, involving mostly overseas-based fighters.

Singapore last month also hosted the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M2 World Championship that included 10 foreign e-sports teams.

The One fights and the e-sport event had strict protocols in place and while they saw several of the foreign participants test positive for the virus, the events proceeded with containment measures in place.

The US$300,000 (S$398,634) Singapore Tennis Open will feature 28 singles players and 16 doubles pairs in the main draw, with Croatia's 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic a confirmed entrant.

Other high-profile names include top-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Singaporeans Shaheed Alam and Roy Hobbs have earned wild cards to the qualifiers and will play their first match today.

Clement Leow, president of the Singapore Tennis Association, paid tribute to the government agencies and the ATP for "bringing this tournament to life".

He added: "The international tournament is a good opportunity for our local talent to gain valuable experience by competing amongst some of the best players in the world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2021, with the headline 'Hope for tennis fans'. Subscribe