The Indian Wells tennis tournament in California has become the largest sporting event to be called off in the US due to coronavirus fears.
The decision came after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley. Many players were already on site practicing.
“We are here and still deciding what’s next”; tweeted men’s world number two Rafael Nadal.
“So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.”
You probably all heard the news. Indian Wells cancelled. We are here and still deciding what’s next. So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) March 9, 2020
The NP Paribas Open tournament is commonly referred to as the “fifth slam” because of its stature. This year’s field included Nadal, world number one Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams among other top players.
Its cancellation calls into questions future events in the packed tennis calendar as the world seals with the coronavirus outbreak.
The tournament was set to begin on Monday with qualifying matches, with the main draw starting on Wednesday.
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Organisers said they wanted to protect the safety of players and attendees.
They add it is on the “the guidance of medical professionals, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California”.
California declared a state of emergency over the outbreak last week, after a flurry of cases in the state.
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Tournament Director Tommy Haas said: “We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance.
“We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
The cancellation of the tournament comes off the back of a number of announcements about sporting events amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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Formula One organisers have said that this month’s Bahrain Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors, while all Serie A matches in Italy are currently being played in empty stadiums.
In the UK, government ministers are meeting with sporting bodies to discuss how to tackle to outbreak, but the advice from the chief medical officer is so far to carry on with the events as normal.