The BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells is still scheduled to kick off next week, and will boast added sanitization precautions to fend off potential exposures of the novel coronavirus, organizers said Friday.
Tournament officials made their first coronavorus-specific statement on Friday, offering fans weary of COVID-19 full refunds for their tickets if they choose. They also said that more than 250 hand-sanitizing stations had been placed throughout the venue, and that contact between fans and players “will be limited.”
“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 read.
The BNP Paribas Open, known unofficially as the “Fifth Grand Slam,” begins Monday and runs through March 22 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Other actions slated for the tournament related to the novel coronavirus include:
— Players will be required to manage their own towel on court, and ball kids will not touch or move player towels;
— A chair will be placed at the back of the court for them to place their towel on for use during the match;
— Ball kids will wear gloves;
— Restaurant and food supply workers will wear gloves;
— Volunteers taking tickets at entrances will wear gloves;
— Protective masks will be on-site for first-aid and health personnel;
— All common areas at the facility will be cleaned daily with an antiviral application.
Tournament officials also indicated they were in the process of securing testing kits on-site “for all individuals with symptoms.”
The announcement comes a day after Riverside County heath officials attended a news conference at Palm Springs City Hall, where it was announced that plans for the Coachella Valley’s upcoming major events are still going forward.
The county’s health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, said there have not been any incidents of community spread of the illness in Southern California, adding that officials are mulling over a possible emergency declaration — as has been in done by the state and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties — but no such decision has yet been made.
“If we do make an emergency declaration based on changes in local conditions, as a public health officer, I do have the ability to shut down such large gatherings. We would do so with as much lead time as possible,” Kaiser said.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which is owned by Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, is located at 78-200 Miles Ave.
Stadium 1, the largest court in the venue, holds 16,100 people, making it the second-largest outdoor tennis stadium in the world.
For more information, or to request a refund, go to http://www.bnpparibasopen.com/coronavirus/.