Simona Halep of Romania is supposed to headline the 31st Palermo Ladies Open, but the world number two’s participation is now in doubt as Italy imposed a 14-day quarantine on people coming from her country.
The International-level claycourt tournament in Palermo starts on August 3rd and is the first WTA event after a five-month break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides two-time Grand Slam champion Halep, the field boasts four more Top 20 players: Johanna Konta, Petra Martic, 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova, and Maria Sakkari.
Tournament organizers wrote an urgent letter to Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza, asking for an exemption for players from Romania, and Bulgaria, to compete as “the health protocols adopted by the WTA are so strict to guarantee the safety and health not only of athletes, yet also of all the various workers involved in the event.”
Players will be required to be tested for coronavirus before they come, as they arrive and every four days. As Tennis.com reports, spectators will be allowed on site, but only up to 350, down from the usual 1,000 in the stands. Tournament does not expect to make profit under these conditions, while prize money will not be decreased substantially, just by $27,500, from the original $250,000.