Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

From gloves for ball kids to no player autographs - ATP and WTA announce measures to combat coronavirus spread

Indian Wells announced on Friday that it would offer refunds, or credit for the 2021 edition, to fans who purchased tickets but don't want to attend

Dominic Thiem is the reigning men's champion at Indian Wells - the first tournament where the new measures will take effect. Reuters
Dominic Thiem is the reigning men's champion at Indian Wells - the first tournament where the new measures will take effect. Reuters

Gloves for ball kids, no handling of towels, and no autographs are among the measures being taken by the ATP and WTA in an attempt to combat the spread of the coronavirus, days before the start of the Indian Wells tournament in California.

"As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to cause concern on a global scale, the ATP and WTA have jointly announced a series of precautionary health measures that will be implemented on-site at upcoming events including Indian Wells, the Miami Open and WTA's Charleston Open," a joint statement from the men's and women's tours said.

Under the new measures, players and mascots won't hold hands when they walk on court. Ball kids at the tournaments will be provided with gloves and won't handle player towels or drinks during matches.

Players will be instructed not to distribute used towels, headbands, shirts and sweatbands - which are sometimes tossed to fans as souvenirs. Players also won't accept pens, tennis balls or other items to be signed.

"The health and safety of our players, fans, staff and tournament personnel is paramount and, as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues, these are common sense precautions for us to take," the ATP and WTA said.

"We continue to monitor this closely on a daily basis, working with our players and tournaments, as well as public health authorities as the situation evolves globally."

The tours said the measures would be at all events "through the 2020 spring season."

Indian Wells tournament advisers had already announced precautionary measures for the event, including gloves for ball kids, food workers and volunteers taking tickets.

More than 250 hand-sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the facility and common areas will be cleaned daily with an anti-viral application.

The tournament also announced on Friday that it would offer refunds, or credit for the 2021 edition, to fans who purchased tickets but don't want to attend.

As of Saturday, 150,000 people in 95 countries had been infected with the virus and 3,556 people had died.

Updated: March 8, 2020 03:39 PM

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