April 7, 2020

OPEN COURT

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Lyon will go on, despite the new French virus restrictions

News on this Saturday from France: the government has decreed any gatherings of more than 5,000 people in “contained areas” – and even some outdoor events –  are cancelled nationwide until further notice.

That includes the Paris half-marathons scheduled for Sunday. And the final day of a big agricultural trade show in Paris has also been scrapped.

So what does this mean for the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon, France, a new WTA tournament scheduled for next week?

The tournament is scheduled to take place at the Palais des Sports de Gerland, an venerable indoor arena whose capacity for a tennis event is listed at 6,500.

But a tournament official told Tennis.Life Sunday that the specific capacity for this tournament is … 3,500. Therefore, it won’t be affected by the new restrictions.

You would think that the parties involved would have rushed to get the news out about this, in the current climate. But we had to reach out.

In addition to Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin, French hopes Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet (to name three) are scheduled to take part.

The WTA Tweeted out a how-to guide for the new event, just as the news was breaking about the restrictions.

The qualifying rounds began on schedule Saturday and continued on Sunday.

What’s up, going forward?

There are tough calls to make for tournament organizers these days.

The WTA Tour has lagged behind the other organizations in terms of making decisions relative to the virus and the holding of its events.

The women’s tour did announce the cancellation of a 125K tournament in China, Xi’an Open, on Feb. 20. It was scheduled to be held the week of April 13.

The Kumming Open, which was due to be held two weeks after that, was officially cancelled on March 2.

The official word was this:

“This decision has been made in the best interest of our players, tournament and WTA staff and fans. We look forward to competing in Anning in 2021 along with the 2020 WTA Tour events that are scheduled to take place this fall.

“We are watching the situation closely as there isn’t anything more important than protecting the health of our WTA community, as well as our Chinese fans and supporters. We continue to communicate with medical experts as information evolves on this virus and we will continue to remain vigilant in managing this challenging situation.”

ITF, ATP cancelling March in China

The ITF had already cancelled all of its planned events in China – women’s, men’s and junior events – for the entire month of March.

And an ATP Challenger final in Bergamo, Italy last week was affected.

The ATP cancelled all of its planned Challengers for the month of March back in late January. It has also cancelled Challengers in Nanchang and Changsha scheduled for the weeks of April 6 and April 13.

It notes that the fate of the big Challenger in Anning the week of April 20 would be announced Saturday. That didn’t happen, but the tournament does not currently appear on the Challenger schedule on its website.

There also are ATP Challenger events in Japan the weeks of April 13 and 20. They are still on for now.

But the Davis Cup qualifier in Japan next weekend, with visiting Ecuador, will be played behind closed doors.

And the Chinese have already forfeited their Group I playoff tie against Romania, because the squad is unable to travel there.

Three of the four scheduled men’s ITF tournaments in Japan in March have been cancelled. But none of the women’s tournaments have suffered the same fate so far.

Precautions are already being taken there.

There are no junior tournaments scheduled for next month.

It’s all getting very real – and very costly not only for organizers, but for a big group of players who suddenly find themselves with nowhere to earn their living.