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Palermo Open sets example for the return of tour-level tennis

Image Source : AP

A view of the central courtroom throughout Palermo Ladies Open tennis event in Palermo, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 6

The solely participant who examined optimistic for the coronavirus was withdrawn from the event with out ever setting foot at the venue.

Another participant was admonished for venturing exterior the occasion bubble and posting a selfie on social media displaying her posing in entrance of a downtown fountain.

Former French Open finalist Sara Errani and Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan acquired verbal warnings from the chair umpire for throwing their wristbands and a visor to youngsters in the crowd following victories.

Local organizers and the WTA Tour have been vigilant about abiding by strict well being protocols with a view to maintain this week’s Palermo Ladies Open, the first tour-level tennis event for males or ladies in 5 months.

“If this was the way all European citizens were being checked, the coronavirus would no longer be a problem,” event director Oliviero Palma advised The Associated Press in an telephone interview earlier than Friday’s quarterfinal matches.

“We’re showing that it’s possible to restart,” Palma added. “I think this experience can be repeated anywhere. The important thing is to follow the protocols very carefully.”

The protocols require gamers and workers members to be examined for COVID-19 upon arrival after which once more each 4 days; gamers to deal with their very own towels; solely three ball collectors per courtroom and all of them a minimum of 18 years outdated; gamers to put on masks as they enter and depart the courtroom; and all media interviews to be carried out electronically.

“It definitely is different,” stated fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit. “I literally haven’t left the hotel to go anywhere but the court. … That’s what the situation needs right now.”

Players will encounter the same, albeit on a a lot bigger scale, bubble ambiance at the upcoming U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 and will likely be preceded by a warmup event at the identical venue in New York.

“It’s going to be a lot longer in the States,” Kontaveit stated of the bubble. “The key is just to find something to do and keep yourself entertained as much as you can.”

As the first event again, Palermo has served as a check for the occasions that observe. For example, there was already a change in bathe protocols.

Whereas initially gamers and coaches had been advised to wash solely at the lodge, organizers rapidly modified the rule once they realized that placing sweaty gamers into event automobiles might be unhealthy and unsanitary.

Players and coaches can now bathe at the venue in several locker rooms. Only two folks can enter any locker room at the identical time.

“Obviously nobody can have a police officer hovering over their shoulder 24 hours a day, because that’s impossible,” Errani stated. “But if we’re all in a position to be accountable and deal with ourselves nicely we will transfer ahead.

“If everybody begins to go off doing loopy issues and doing no matter they need,” Errani added. “That’s when the problems start.”

In June, top-ranked Novak Djokovic and several other different gamers examined optimistic for the virus after taking part in in a collection of exhibition matches he organized in Serbia and Croatia with zero social distancing.

“As the first tournament back, Palermo has done a great job. The safety element is there,” stated Italian participant Jasmine Paolini. “Let’s hope we can continue like this without glitches in other tournaments.”

When an unnamed participant examined optimistic on the first day of qualifying final weekend, she was instantly moved to a facility designated for asymptomatic sufferers with COVID-19. Then as soon as she returned consecutive optimistic checks, she was despatched dwelling.

“It was caught right away. It means that the tests work and the protocol is correct,” Palma stated. “I’d have been frightened if we hadn’t found something instantly and discovered later.

“That’s the entire level of the checks: to intercept a optimistic earlier than it may possibly create any harm.”

Likewise, Errani and Juvan had been spoken to by the umpire after throwing gadgets together with a visor and wristbands to the crowd, which is being restricted to lower than 300 spectators per day.

“I understand their concern but it was actually like an instinct,” Juvan stated after upsetting second-seeded Markéta Vondroušová. “Maybe I won’t do it the next few days.”

The subsequent WTA event in Europe will likely be held in Prague subsequent week.

“A large part of the players are coming from Palermo,” Palma stated. “So they’re going there negative, which gives Prague a head start.”

Fight in opposition to Coronavirus: Full protection

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