(Reuters) - The ATP suspended its professional men’s tennis tour for six weeks on Thursday, citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, which has disrupted sports events across the globe.
The announcement came moments after Miami-Dade County said it would suspend the Miami Open and following Sunday’s last-minute cancellation of the Indian Wells tournament in Southern California.
The decision was not taken lightly, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement, adding that the suspension represents a great loss for players and fans.
“We believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic,” he said.
Impacted events include the Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.
Players praised the ATP’s announcement and voiced concern over the coronavirus outbreak on social media.
“The wisest decision at times like these,” Argentine player Diego Schwartzman said on Twitter.
“Do not take it lightly,” Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tweeted. “The coronavirus affects us all and we must all do everything we can to reduce its spread.
“To protect ourselves, but also protect the most vulnerable.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) postponed all its events until April 20 following the ATP’s announcement and will review the situation on a weekly basis.
"The ITF is taking the precautionary measure to postpone all ITF-owned and sanctioned events, across the men's and women's ITF World Tennis Tour, the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors, the Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour and ITF Seniors Tour," it said in a statement here
The ITF on Wednesday postponed the inaugural edition of the multi-nation Fed Cup finals scheduled to be held in Budapest next month.
WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said: “In light of the current global situation, please note that additional information on upcoming WTA events will be announced shortly.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the coronavirus crisis as a pandemic, meaning it is spreading fast across the globe, as countries scramble to contain the outbreak.
Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Ed Osmond