The BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, set to begin this week, has been postponed after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley.
The Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency Sunday for the desert cities 110 miles east of Los Angeles, including Indian Wells where the ATP and WTA tours were to play the two-week tournament starting Wednesday.
“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.”
The event typically draws upwards of 450,000 fans. This year’s field included Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff.
No further details were immediately provided on the confirmed case of the illness.
Tournament director Tommy Haas said organizers are prepared to play the event on different dates and will explore options. The decision to postpone was based on the guidance of medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control and state of California officials, tournament officials said.
Refunds for this year’s event or a credit toward next year’s tournament are being offered.
Earlier in the week, officials had announced several measures to protect players, fans and staff at the event. Ball kids were going to have to wear gloves and not touch the towels of players on the court. Organized player and fan interaction was also going to be limited at the tournament which is informally referred to as the fifth Grand Slam because of its popularity with players and fans, many of whom come from overseas.
The LPGA Tour is scheduled to play the first women’s golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, early next month in nearby Rancho Mirage.