By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The BNP Paribas (PA:) Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells has been canceled over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Southern (NYSE:) California, organizers announced on Sunday.
“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,” said David Agus, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, with whom tournament organizers consulted about the potential health impact.
The popular tournament, a Masters 1000 event that was supposed to start on Tuesday, attracts the game’s top players and drew a record 475,000 fans over its two-week run last year.
Anyone who bought tickets directly from the tournament may request a refund, or a credit for next year’s tournament, organizers added.
The cancellation comes after organizers of well-known music and entertainment festival South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, canceled that event last week because of the virus.
“We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” said Martin Massiello, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Eisenhower Health.
“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” said tournament director Tommy Haas. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
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