The cancellation of Indian Wells has sent shockwaves through tennis.
A case of Coronavirus (Covid-19) was confirmed in the immediate area of the Coachella Valley which has prompted organisers to cancel this years event following advice from medical experts.
Despite organisers putting out measures in order to contain the virus and keep players, fans and staff safe the event has been cancelled. Just five days ago California declared a state of emergency over the outbreak of Coronavirus but at this time the tournament were still confident of going ahead.
The question is, what happens next?
Some have said it is a panic from the organisers but you cannot gamble with safety of all those involved and attending the tournament.
Organisers have said they will look at rescheduling but there is just no room for it on the calendar and I cannot see the WTA and ATP re-scheduling the calendar but Indian Wells is the biggest event outside the majors.
The organisers have set a precedent and I wouldn’t expect it to stop there. Over the next 11 weeks on the WTA and ATP tours combined there are 21 events set to be played in cities all over the world and doesn’t even count the events on the ATP Challenger or ITF tour in that time.
There is an expectancy with Miami to be cancelled, Monte Carlo which doesn’t begin until around mid April in doubts with it being close to the Italian border. Rome is another one which is looking extremely unlikely and with France closing the doors at football matches as well it is looking uncertain what will happen in the lead up to Roland Garros and at the second major of the year as well.
What does all this mean for tennis?
Defending points will drop off and as no one will be picking up points rankings will just drop off. It is extremely unlikely that for cancelled events points will remain and then come off in 2021 which is being rumoured.
For players rankings in the race to Shenzhen or London respectively another tournament will replace Indian Wells as points gained.
The WTA CEO Steve Simon told a leading journalist from the NewYork Times that the WTA players were happy to play without a crowd but it was rejected by the tournament directors.
Steve has made his own statement in which he says they will monitor the situation carefully and health and safety is the sole priority.
There is yet to be a statement from ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli despite the announcement coming over 15 hours ago.
It is understood players on site will be given access to the site despite it being cancelled before they move on and a weeks accommodation will be covered.
For up to date and ‘front-line’ information the person to follow on Twitter is @ChristopherClarey from the New York Times.
You can read more on the developing story from the NYtimes below:
There has been some backlash from the players as well due to the timing of the decision and them being left in the dark.
Over 300 players had arrived in the area to play qualifying, singles and of course doubles and to find out less than 24 hours before is not good from the sport authorities and should have kept them more in the loop.
Some players were out practicing at the time of the announcement which they had no idea what was going on, others have found out about the decision via Twitter or WhatsApp messages between players.
Diego Schwartzman called for more communication from the ATP and described it lazy to find out via social media and WhatsApp.
Other players have also had their say…
and finally… Kirsten Flipkens and Sorana Cirstea found out via Twitter despite being on site…
The WTA team is available on site for players led by leading WTA supervisor Donna Kelso as players look to see what will happen next.
It is a shame the tournament has had to be cancelled, maybe it should have been done better. Tennis’ short term future does look bleak. You have to feel for those who will not now work at the events and the qualifying players as well who sit outside the top 100, struggle to breakeven at times and have wasted money on accommodation and travel.