How Novak Djokovic and the Adria Tour handled their health and safety protocols during an unsanctioned tennis tournament last week has drawn the ire of the sports world.
As tennis, under the guise of the ATP and WTA, makes its return from a hiatus in the coronavirus, it will be starkly different than what was experienced in Croatia.
Washington D.C.'s Citi Open marks the resumption of tennis for the men's ATP Tour in early August. Both circuits have been suspended since mid-March when the pandemic began. It's a move that managing owner Mark Ein called both an honor and a huge responsibility.
"We've always been committed to doing everything in our power to be able to host this event," Ein told NBC Sports Washington. "We have found a way to -- in partnership with and in collaboration with a lot of other people -- to be the first event back in the world."
Getting to be the first tournament back draws a lot of attention. It is anticipated that top-tier players are going to come to D.C. that typically would not consider the Citi Open in the tournament calendar. Ein and his team, anticipate it may be the best men's field at the event ever.
But the coronavirus still exists. How the event at Rock Creek Park handles it will also be drawing attention. They will set the blueprint for how tennis can safely return or become an example of why the world isn't ready yet for an international event.
Here are some of the health protocols that will be followed at the Citi Open:
- The Citi Open will take over an entire hotel in D.C. to create a 'bubble environment' for the players and their teams. This concept is similar to what the U.S. Open is doing in New York.
- All participants, team members and tournament workers will be tested upon their arrival in D.C.
- If a player or member tests positive, they will be removed from the bubble and isolated.
- Everyone entering the site will have their temperature checked and fill out a health questionnaire on a daily basis.
- When players are not on the court on-site, they will be required to wear masks and social distance.
- Commonly used surfaces on the court and at the venue will be regularly cleaned.
- The tournament will have a "robust contract tracing" system in place if someone tests positive.
- Additional testing could be possible later in the tournament.
Other protocols could be added once the event draws closer. Right now, the tournament is still operating as if they had no fans but would consider it if the city allows them. If spectators are eventually allowed, there would be no intersection between them and the players.
"We are working closely with the ATP, the USTA, the city of Washington and the National Park Service, with MedStar (Health) and collaborating, in large part, all using the same framework and a set of protocols," Ein said. "The vast majority of the very specific parts of the plan are the same across our events in the USA and even other sports."