It’s challenging to put on a professional tennis tournament these days.
But the European Open in Antwerp is going ahead, despite constraints and late-in-the-game parameter changes.
According to Le Soir, tournament director Dick Norman has confirmed the presence of top Belgian – and the tournament’s No. 1 seed – David Goffin.
Goffin, who will have a first-round bye, can get the latest start possible – Thursday.
He will play the winner of a match between wild card Luca Nardo of Italy and a qualifier.
Norman’s quote on the matter, though, is … eye-raising.
“(He’ll play) whether his COVID-19 test is positive or negative because going forward, with more than a week of quarantine behind him, he’s no longer contagious and that will be confirmed by our medical team.”
Goffin tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 6. He was forced to withdraw from the St. Petersburg tournament.
The Belgian wrote Friday on Instagram that he again tested positive for the virus on Tuesday – a week after the original positive result.
He added that he was tested again on Thursday and was waiting for the results to be able to start training again for Antwerp.
One in, another Belgian out
Norman also told Le Soir that another Belgian, veteran Ruben Bemelmans, is out.
The 32-year-old lefty, who was given a wild card, has turned up positive for the coronavirus.
Bemelmans last played at Roland Garros, where he lost in the final round of qualifying to Daniel Altmaier of Germany.
Reduced crowds … and curfew
Norman also told Le Soir that the tournament has been authorized to maintain its plan to have 1,500 fans per day on hand. They will split the crowd up in four separate entrances and stands.
He added that there will be a row, and two seats between groups (not one seat as originally planned).
The new restrictions in the country actually limit maximum crowds at sporting events to 200. So they got a pass on that.
The start time for matches will be moved up two hours – from 2 p.m. to noon – to take into account the midnight curfew that takes effect Monday.
Second curfew period for Antwerp
Antwerp mandated a curfew earlier this summer – 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the end of July, at the start. It was suspended for a few days during a heatwave, and later shortened before being lifted entirely Aug. 26.
At the time, the city had half the cases in Belgium and the highest reproduction rate in the country.
They managed to flatten the curve. Even after the curfew was lifted, bars, cafés and restaurants continued to be required to close at 11 p.m.
With the new restrictions – and the midnight curfew – cafés and restaurants will be closed for a month. Alcohol sales will be cut off at 8 p.m. Late-night convenience stores will close at 10 p.m., as will takeout from restaurants.
This time, it’s Brussels that is being hit hardest.