Squeaky-clean Singapore will insist on strict enforcement of COVID precautions at this week’s one-off ATP 250 event, with players living in near-isolation.
The tournament was added to the mix to fill in gaps in a calendar complicated by the delayed edition of the Australian Open which concluded on Sunday.
The rules in the prosperous and nearly virus-free city-state are being ferociously applied, with a field led by 35th-ranked Adrian Mannarino and featuring former US Open winner Marin Cilic set to compete in front of empty stands at the Sports Hub complex, between the CBD and Changi airport.
This emergency edition marks the return of the ATP to the city after 22 years and could well be a test bed for a more permanent future.
Officials have left in a tempting loophole, dangling the possibility of limited spectators for the weekend should citywide virus cases (29 deaths in the past year, 22 patients in hospital) remain in check.
Local organisers are taking a page from the Australian Open handbook and are isolating players, supplementing that regime plentiful COVID tests.
Players arriving from Melbourne were tested upon arrival and isolated until cleared.
Movements between hotel and venue will be in “bubbles” only, with isolation and working concept.; one bubble cannot interact with another – save on court.
Each floor of the player hotel will have a gym set up for residents of that floor, who will also eat in separate dining halls.
“We’ve mapped out every single step of the way, where they could be at the time the test results come in,” top official Lim Teck Yin told the Straits Times.
“If there is a COVID-positive player or coach, we will work with ATP to send the affected person to an isolation centre, before transportation to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
“And from then on, they will follow our national protocols.”
Tournament workers will be tested every day and will be socially isolated from players and other outsiders.
While fans might be allowed in for the final two days, the event could also be shut down in case of a rise in infections.
“Obviously the biggest risks right now are the risks of imported transmission,” Lim said. “We want to ensure we remain relatively COVID-19 free.”