The continued spread of the novel virus has already led to the cancellation or postponement of sports events worldwide, and the Davis Cup is no exception.China withdrew from its tie while Ecuador and Japan will play without spectators. Sports Pundit addressed to the ITF to know more about the current situation.
The Davis Cup is a tennis competition by teams run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Six countries have already secured their ticket for the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals, those being Canada, Great Britain, Russia, Spain, France, and Serbia.
But for the qualifiers, the battle to secure one of the 12 places available for the 2020 edition of the World Cup of tennis starts on Friday, when twenty-four countries will be playing in different locations around the globe.
CORONAVIRUS AND SPORTS EVENTS
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a global health emergency; the current outbreak has mainly affected China, where it was first reported from Wuhan by the end of last year.
The COVID-19 has also expanded to other countries, “the epidemics in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan are our greatest concern,” stated on March 2 at a media briefing WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“But containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries. With early, aggressive measures, countries can stop transmission and save lives,” Dr. Ghebreyesus remarked.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
On February, 26, the ITF, along with Japan Tennis Association have jointly decided that the qualifiers tie between the teams of Japan and Ecuador will be played behind closed doors in response to the coronavirus outbreak, after having spoken to the competent authorities.
Japan will meet Ecuador at the Bourbon Beans Dome, in Miki.
Japanese player Kei Nishikori - who underwent surgery on his right elbow last October, is set to make his return to competition, representing his country later this week.
Italy is playing the Republic of Korea in Cagliari, the capital of the island of Sardinia, at the Circolo Tennis Cagliari.
Both countries are among the most affected by the disease - at the time of writing this article, the WHO registers 2502 confirmed cases in Italy and 5328 cases in the Republic of Korea.
In that regard, Sports Pundit conferred with the International Tennis Federation on whether there was any possibility for the tie between Italy and South Korea to be played without spectators.
In response to our inquiry, the ITF stated: “the safety and welfare of players are paramount to the ITF.”
“We continue to closely monitor the Novel Coronavirus outbreak in consultation with independent medical and travel advisers, particularly in areas where ITF events are taking place, and are prepared to take any necessary measures based on expert advice.
Preparations for Davis Cup ties taking place this week continue, and we remain in contact with all host national associations should there be any developments regarding restrictions implemented in that nation,” the statement concluded.
The Republic of Korea team will face its opponent with Lee Duckhee, Ji Sung Nam, Yunseong Chung, Min-Kyu Song, Hong Chung, and captain Heesung Chung.
Last month, the ITF also announced China’s withdrawal from its Davis Cup World Group I play-off tie against Romania - set to take place on 6-7 March.
“The increased restrictions in response to the current Coronavirus outbreak have resulted in the China, P.R. team being unable to travel to this tie,” read the statement released by ITF Media on Twitter.
The ITF confirmed that in the events of China withdrawal, Romania advances to play in World Group I in September 2020.
From March 6 to 7, Croatia plays India in home soil, Hungary welcomes Belgium, and Colombia plays Argentina in Bogota.
The Argentine team arrived early this week in Colombia’s largest city - sited at an altitude of 2,640 meters (8,660 feet) above sea level, without their number one and number two players, Diego Schwartzman and Guido Pella, both out due to injury.
The USA team meets Uzbekistan in Hawaii, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.
Australia faces Brazil in Adelaide without two of its most important players, Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur.
Kyrgios withdrew from the competition due to a left wrist injury while de Minaur is still suffering from an abdominal injury that forced him to retire from the Australian Open last January.
Both players will be replaced by John Peers and Alex Bolt that alongside John Millman, Jordan Thompson, and James Duckworth, complete Lleyton Hewitt squad.
Boris Becker Germany and Belarus will visit Dusseldorf, while Kazakhstan and Netherlands reunite in the National Tennis Center, Nur-Sultan.
Bratislava is the city that will hold the match of local team Slovakia against the Czech Republic.
The Austria of Dennis Novak welcomes Uruguay at the Steiermarkhalle Schwarzlsee.
It will be the second time both teams meet in the competition.
The Royal Tennis Hall (Kungl. Tennishallen) in Stockholm features Sweden against Chile.
The Swedish team, which won the competition on seven occasions, debuts a new captain, the former world. No. 4 Robin Soderling.
It will be the first time, brothers Mikael, and Elias Ymer represent their country together at the qualifiers of the Davis Cup.
Markus Eriksson, Carl Soderlund, and Robert Lindstedt join them.
Chile number one Cristian Garin withdrew from the tie due to a back injury. The recently crowned, Rio Open champion, has been replaced by Matias Soto.
The 20-year-old joins Alejandro Tabilo, Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera, Bastian Malla, and captain Nicolas Massu.
In 2019 Rafael Nadal Spain emerged victorious in home soil over Canada, lifting its sixth title in the competition - the team won its first championship in the year 2000 against Australia.