The ATP suspended its professional men's tennis tour for six weeks on Thursday, citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, which has upended major sporting events across the globe.
The announcement came moments after Miami-Dade County said it would suspend the Miami Open and on the heels of Sunday's last-minute cancellation of the Indian Wells tournament in Southern California.
The decision was not taken lightly, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement, adding that the suspension represents a great loss for players and fans.
The ATP has announced a six-week suspension of the men’s professional tennis tour due to public health & safety concerns over COVID-19.— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 12, 2020
"We believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic," he said.
The announcement and ongoing epidemic prompted fans and players to fear the French Open would also be at risk of cancellation.
Im feeling so useless!! What are we practicing for? For Guadalajara? For Miami? For French Open? For.. what? 😑 Also, IF Guadalajara is a go.. Do I want to go there? Not sure if I can get back to Belgium with more and more rumours about closing borders??— Kirsten Flipkens (@FlipperKF) March 12, 2020
So players will enter the French Open (if held) without playing competitively for 6 weeks https://t.co/a89gncg11F— EXTRAGALACTIC (@1ashish2) March 12, 2020
This cancels the start of the clay season, including the Barcelona Open. However, if they do come back at end of 6 weeks, they would still have the Madrid Open and Italian Open to prep for the #FrenchOpen (which is 12 weeks away) https://t.co/I0meUd9dVb— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) March 12, 2020
Wow wow wow. Is the French Open next? And the Italian in Rome? Wimby? https://t.co/av6p2qaQeg— Scott Wapner (@ScottWapnerCNBC) March 9, 2020
Odds there's a French Open? Can't imagine they're high right now— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 12, 2020
If players were to return to the competitive circuit after the break, they would have the Madrid and Italian Masters to prepare on clay before the French Open.
However, the current crowd gathering ban in Italy would put the Italian Masters also at risk of being cancelled.
‘Fifth Major’ cancelled
Tennis fans have been left in a state of shock over the decision to cancel the Indian Wells tournament in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Often described as the sport's 'fifth major', Indian Wells will not go ahead in 2020 in a drastic response to the threat of the coronavirus outbreak.
“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California.
“It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”
Impacted events include the Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the coronavirus crisis as a pandemic, meaning it is spreading fast across the globe, as countries scramble to contain the outbreak.