In the past two weeks, organizers, participants, and athletes involved in the US Open were confident that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be a problem with the event. However, they were proven wrong as the precautions taken turned into chaos with rampant changing of rules.
The sports event is going to be held in New York, the state which in the past few months was the epicenter of the pandemic in the US.
In mid-August, the world's best tennis players, with the exception of a few arrived in the state, where they were housed in hotels. Upon arrival, most of the players were housed in Long Island Hotel, where they were expected to follow the imposed social distancing measures as they prepare for the tournament. They were given several weeks to prepare for the US Open which will be held in Queens at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
According to The New York Times, the leaders of the United States Tennis Association worked closely with New York's public health officials in devising a plan to make the tournament safe from COVID-19. The plan included regular testing, behavior monitoring, closing the tournament site to spectators, and contact tracing.
The plan seemed to have been working for a time, there were even emergency protocols that were put in place if a player would test positive.
French Veteran Tests Positive
The organizers were confident that they were able to have all the bases covered. However, it all turned to chaos just two days before the event, when 31-year-old Benoît Paire from France tested positive for the virus.
With this, there came a domino effect of chaotic events that followed. Players became disgruntled, many decided to confine themselves inside their hotel rooms. There have also been varying rulings from different public health departments that contradicted one another.
The chaos led to many matches being delayed or canceled, causing disorder and confusion in one of the most high-profile sporting events in the world.
Aside from the effect on the schedule of games, several safety issues also arose after the results of the electronic contact tracing on Paire revealed that he has been in close contact with several people. Based on the results, he was in contact with seven players, most of them were French, for an extended period of time covering socialization and a card game, including Kristina Mladenovic.
The results prompted tennis officials to eliminate Mladenovic and Timea Babos's team from the tournament despite being top-seeded. This is after health officials from Nassau County, where the hotel housing the players is located, stated that Mladenovic should not be allowed to play as it is a violation of the county's protocols, ABC News reported.
Moreover, despite being caught off guard by the county's involvement the USTA stated that it is obligated to follow the ruling set by the county. Thus, all players who had come in contact with Paire were asked to stay in their hotel rooms alone.
It still remains unknown on what the next steps that the USTA would take as the US Open continues.
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