The BNP Paribas Open, the near-major tennis tournament set to begin this week in the California desert, won’t be played as scheduled after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley.
The Indian Wells event is the largest U.S. sporting event to be called off over concerns about the spread of the disease. The South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled Friday.
The announcement came Sunday night after many players were already in the desert practicing. Qualifying matches were to begin Monday with women’s main draw matches starting Wednesday and the men’s draw beginning Thursday.
“We’re here and still deciding what’s next,” tweeted Rafael Nadal, the world’s second-ranked player. “So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.”
The Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency for the desert cities 110 miles east of Los Angeles, including Indian Wells where the ATP and WTA tours were to play the two-week tournament.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. California has reported 114 cases of the virus.
“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” Dr. David Agus, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, said Sunday. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”