On Sunday, organizers of the Indian Wells Masters 2020 announced that the BNP Paribas Open will not take place this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus. This makes the Indian Wells Masters one of the highest-profile sporting events to get cancelled due to the coronavirus with other big events in doubt.
A coronavirus (COVID-19) case was detected locally, which led to a public health emergency in the area. Subsequently, the organizers made the decision after following the guidance of medical professionals in an effort to keep players, officials and attendees safe.
“We are very disappointed”: Indian Wells Masters 2020 director
The decision to cancel the event came quickly after the emergency was declared. Eventually, the verdict came to a surprise to players, who were already in Indian Wells preparing for the event. Many players found out through social media on Sunday when the tournament announced the decision.
The BNP Paribas Open is one of the most popular events for the men and women on the tennis calendar. It is the first ATP Masters 1000 event and first WTA Premier Mandatory event of the season. Furthermore, it is also considered as the fifth “major” tournament.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 9, 2020
Tournament director, Tommy Haas released this statement:
“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place. 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.”
Has the BNP Paribas Open cancelled before?
The tournament has been held in the desert every year since 1976. Hence, this is the first year that the tournament will not take place.
The number of infected people has increased in Riverside County. Subsequently, the tournament became the first of several events in Southern California to be impacted by concerns of coronavirus. Its cancellation comes days after the organizers detailed new preventative measures they were taking due to coronavirus concerns.
The chief executive of the WTA Tour, Steve Simon revealed that the officials had considered playing the tournament without spectators. However, they were forced to ultimately reject that option.
“We were supportive of the concept. But ultimately the tournament didn’t feel it was in their best interest.”
It will be interesting to see which (if any) tournaments will follow Indian Wells and get cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.