Indian Wells postponed as pandemic rages on

NEW YORK • One of the most important tennis tournaments will not take place in the United States this spring because the country has not been able to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, officials announced yesterday.

The BNP Paribas Open, scheduled for Indian Wells, California, in March, has been postponed, most likely until late next year.

The ATP and WTA Tours have not announced a substitute date but hope to do so in the coming weeks and months.

"Alternative dates are being assessed for the tournament to potentially take place later in the year," the ATP said in a statement.

Indian Wells is not among the sport's four Grand Slam tournaments but it is in the next tier of importance for both the men and women's tours.

Officials have scrambled for weeks to try to find a way to salvage the event - this year's edition was cancelled - as rates of coronavirus infection continue to increase across the country, especially in California.

The hard-court tournament, known informally as the "Fifth Slam", represents a rare chance to promote the sport with nearly all of the top players in the world participating.

Now, these players will most likely appear at the Miami Open in late March, assuming that tournament, which was also axed earlier this year, remains on the schedule.

They will then return after Wimbledon in midsummer for the hard-court season that culminates with the US Open in late August.

The announcement that Indian Wells has been pushed back is the latest disruption in a sport that was shut down for five months from March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the schedule for the first quarter of next year has essentially been redrawn.

The Australian Open has been moved from the last two weeks in January to the middle two weeks in February.

Other events originally planned for next year, like the ASB Classic in Auckland and the New York Open have also been canned, while the Maharashtra Open in India is under a cloud and the Rio Open, initially set for February, has been delayed to a date yet to be confirmed.

This was reflected in the ATP's latest schedule for the next eight weeks that was released on Tuesday.

The circuit said that "due to the impact of Covid-19", the Indian Wells event would not be held on "its customary dates in March".

Under the revised schedule, the week following the finale of the Australian Open on Feb 21 will see tournaments held in Cordoba, Argentina and Montpellier, France.

They are to replace events in Santiago, Acapulco and Dubai, which have all been pushed back.

Tennis officials remain hopeful that after Miami, the sport can embark on its usual clay-court schedule in the spring, with events in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome and then the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, which is scheduled to begin in late May.

However, with only a partial schedule released so far, the calendar remains subject to change, given the unpredictability of the Covid-19 crisis.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2020, with the headline 'Indian Wells postponed as pandemic rages on'. Subscribe