Indian Wells tennis event takes steps to combat coronavirus

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Organized interaction between players and fans will be limited at the Indian Wells hardcourt tennis tournament, one of several steps event organizers are taking amid coronavirus concerns.

Fans who purchased tickets directly from the tournament but don't want to attend during the outbreak can request a refund or a credit for the 2021 edition, organizers said in a statement released on Friday.

Additional measures announced to keep players, fans and others involved safe include requiring players to manage their own towels during matches, without the help of ball kids.

A chair will be placed at the back of each court for players to place their towels on during each match.

Ball kids will also wear gloves, as will food workers and volunteers taking tickets at the entrances.

Main draw play begins on Wednesday at Indian Wells, an ATP Masters series and WTA premier mandatory event.

Organizers said they had devised protective measures under the guidance of Doctor David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, and Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health.

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

"Further actions are being considered and evaluated on a daily basis in order to continue to ensure the safety of everyone associated with the event," the statement said.

The novel COVID-19 that emerged in China and has spread across the globe has wreaked havoc on sporting schedules.

The alpine skiing World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d'Ampezzo March 16-22, was cancelled as the number of those killed by the virus in Italy jumped to 197 on Friday, with more than 4,600 cases recorded.

As of Friday, an AFP toll based on official sources put the number of deaths from the virus globally at 3,456. There have been 100,842 infections in 92 countries and territories.