USTA trusts 100% in protocols despite the first positive

The American Tennis Federation claimed to have all its faith placed in the effective functioning of the 'bubble', of which it explained several issues.


The United States Tennis Federation (USTA, its acronym in English) said Tuesday that it trusts "100%" in the security protocols it has imposed during the United States Open (US Open) of Tennis and the Cincinnati Masters despite a first positive case of coronavirus that they announced this Tuesday.

"We are 100% confident that we are doing this right. This is not a celebration at any cost. We are very disciplined in our approach," USTA CEO Mike Dowse said in a telephone press conference. "Health and wellness was priority number one, two if it benefited tennis, and three if it made economic sense for the players, the USTA and the tennis ecosystem as a whole," he added.

Dowse's statements come hours after the USTA confirmed in a statement the first positive of coronavirus of a person who is in the "controlled environment" created for the celebration of the Open and the Cincinnati Masters, and although it has not been revealed his identity, he did confirm that he is not a player.

Dowse also pointed out in his conversation with the media that the USTA "already expected" that there would be some positive for coronavirus, since so far they have carried out 1,400 tests among the tennis players and the staff that will work in the tournament since the past August 13. "Mathematically, we expected to have a positive, if not more. We already anticipated this, and we have implemented very specific protocols to prevent (COVID-19) from spreading," he stressed.

There are already 350 tennis players in New York

Meanwhile, the director of the US Open, Stacey Allaster, explained that about 350 tennis players are already in what they call the "centralized environment" that has been created to celebrate both the US Open and the Masters of Cincinnati, which this year is held on the same stage as the US Grand Slam to lower the risk of contagion.

For this, the organization has forced tennis players to stay in two specific hotels: the Long Island Marriott and the Garden City. Both are about 30 minutes from Flushing Meadows, but outside of the New York City limits and about an hour's drive from downtown Manhattan. It has also given them the possibility of staying in private houses together with some guests, although athletes can only move for games.

The 'bubble' facilities

Allaster herself finds herself together with the tennis players and their teams in the "centralized environment", which she repeatedly referred to as the "bubble" .

"We will remain in the 'environment' for the duration of the competition. I can assure you, I have been living in the bubble and the athletes have everything they need," said the director of the tournament, which will be the most important sports competition worldwide since the start of the pandemic. "They have comfortable accommodation, medical tests, transportation, practice facilities, trainers, physical therapists, various food services, a number of experiences during their time here," he added.

Measures to Control an Outbreak

The main system by which the USTA intends to protect everyone involved in the US Open is divided into three categories: the first includes players, their team, their guests and the tournament staff, so this group consists of about 1,000 people.

The second, formed by the workers of the television teams that will attend the games, along with the handful of journalists and photographers accredited to cover the games in the stadiums, although this group, according to the USTA, will have very little interaction with others.

The third, formed by other types of stadium personnel, such as security agents in the parking area or merchants, who would have even less interaction. According to the doctor who has supervised the entire protocol, Bernard Camins, who is also the medical director in the Infection Prevention department of the prestigious Mt. Sinai hospital group, tennis players who arrive to play the tournament are subjected to 2 coronavirus tests in the first four days of their stay, and until they receive a negative from the first test, they will not be able to leave their room.

Apart from these first two tests, athletes will be subjected to frequent coronavirus tests during the tournament, and once the competition begins, any player who tests positive will be automatically disqualified.

The withdrawal of players

The CEO of the USTA also spoke about the unusual withdrawal of players from the US Open that has been recorded in recent days, a few days before the start of the Cincinnati Masters.

"We respect the decisions of the individual players at all times, each one has to make their decision, but in terms of the context in which we find ourselves, we could not be happier (with the participation of the tournament) and it has exceeded all our expectations "Dowse noted.

He also noted that ten former Grand Slam winners and seven former Grand Slam winners will participate in the 2020 US Open and seven who have at some point been at the top of the rankings.

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