Amidst concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the ATP and WTA have jointly announced precautionary health measures to be put in place at upcoming tournaments, including the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the Miami Open and the WTA Volvo Car Open in Charleston.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, or coronavirus, has already forced the cancellation of many sporting tournaments around the world, while some of the events that are going ahead have had to adopt safety measures to guard against the virus.
The measures to be put in place by the ATP and WTA are as follows:
• Players and mascots will not hold hands when walking out on court
• Ball kids will be provided with gloves to wear on court
• Ball kids will not handle player towels during matches
• Ball kids will not handle player drinks during matches
• Players will be instructed to not distribute used towels, headbands, shirts, sweatbands, etc. to fans following matches or practice
• Players will not accept pens, tennis balls or other items to hold for autograph signing
These measure will be implemented at all ATP Tour, WTA Tour and ATP Challenger events all through the 2020 spring season, with a review to be done afterwards.
In a joint statement released by the ATP and WTA, the two governing bodies said that they have taken the decision following consultations with medical experts, as they bid to safeguard the health and safety of players, staff, fans and the wider tennis community.
“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,” said the statement. “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 BNP Paribas Open is live from Indian Wells from 11-22 March.