Tennis: ATP, WTA announce measures aimed to limit coronavirus spread

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina serves the ball to the Dutch's Arantxa Rus (out of frame) during the Monterrey WTA Open women's semi-final singles tennis match in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 7, 2020.
Ukraine's Elina Svitolina serves the ball to the Dutch's Arantxa Rus (out of frame) during the Monterrey WTA Open women's semi-final singles tennis match in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 7, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The ATP and WTA announced measures aimed at combatting the spread of deadly coronavirus on Saturday, days before the start of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California.

"As the outbreak of Covid-19 continues to cause concern on a global scale, the ATP and WTA have jointly announced a series of precautionary health measures that will be implemented on-site at upcoming events including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the Miami Open presented by Itau and WTA's Volvo Car Open in Charleston," a joint statement from the men's and women's tennis Tours said.

Under the new measures, players and mascots will not hold hands when they walk on court.

Ball kids at the tournaments will be provided with gloves and will not handle player towels or drinks during matches.

Players will be instructed not to distribute used towels, headbands, shirts and sweatbands - which are sometimes tossed to fans as souvenirs.

Players also will not accept pens, tennis balls or other items to be signed.

"The health and safety of our players, fans, staff and tournament personnel is paramount and, as the outbreak of Covid-19 continues, these are common sense precautions for us to take," the ATP and WTA said.

"We continue to monitor this closely on a daily basis, working with our players and tournaments, as well as public health authorities as the situation evolves globally."

The Tours said the measures would be at all events "through the 2020 spring season".

 
 

Indian Wells tournament advisers had already announced precautionary measures for the event, including gloves for ball kids, food workers and volunteers taking tickets.

More than 250 hand-sanitising stations have been placed throughout the facility and common areas will be cleaned daily with an anti-viral application.

The tournament also announced on Friday that it would offer refunds, or credit for the 2021 edition, to fans who purchased tickets but do not want to attend.

As of Saturday, 150,000 people in 95 countries had been infected with the virus and 3,556 people had died.