ATP Chairman Gaudenzi: ‘This is bigger than any sport’

andrewhendrie in News 25 Mar 2020
ATP COVID-19 Update

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has shared an update on the ATP World Tour amidst the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Gaudenzi repeated that the ATP’s goal is to try and resume the tour by the grass season in June, but acknowledged it was impossible to make definitive plans due to the rapidly changing nature and ramifications of the coronavirus.

Latest ATP COVID-19 Updates

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was the first major sporting competition in the world to be called off earlier this month, with all tournaments on the ATP and WTA tours now cancelled through to June 7 as the virus continues to spread at an uncontrollable rate worldwide.

“Unfortunately, the repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across all areas of society, as well as by our players, tournaments, and the Tour,” said Gaudenzi.

“This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathise with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.

“Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume, which remains unknown at this time.

“This remains an evolving situation that will require significant time to deal with in the coming weeks and months, and we must avoid making any rushed decisions without knowing first when the crisis will end. Understanding the full duration and scale of this crisis will be critical to addressing any measures related to its repercussions.”

Gaudenzi has endured a tumultuous start to his role as ATP Chairman on January 1 after the season began with the bushfire crisis in Australia before the tour stopping altogether due to the current health pandemic.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed until summer 2021 and numerous countries across Europe and around the world going into lockdown, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Wimbledon and the grass swing through June-July will be able to go ahead as originally scheduled.

“We continue to assess all options related to preserving and maximising the calendar based on various return dates for the Tour. It goes without saying that full cooperation with the other governing bodies is essential. We are in close discussion with all the grass-court events and they remain on the calendar as scheduled at this time,” he said.

“The reality is this is a rapidly evolving situation and there is no option other than to take this day-by-day and week-by-week.”

Out of all sports, tennis – theoretically and logistically – faces arguably the toughest test to resume and return as usual due to the global nature of the game.

A native of Italy – the hardest hit country by the COVID-19 virus – Gaudenzi insisted that the health of everyone is the main priority in these trying times.

“This is a time of considerable uncertainty for all and there is nothing more important than prioritising health,” he said.

“On a personal level, the stories I have heard from acquaintances at home in Italy are harrowing. The need to take this seriously, stay at home and practice responsible social distancing, is paramount and we urge everyone in the tennis community to spread this important message in the days and weeks ahead.”