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No spectators when Singapore Tennis Open begins, but fans possible for s-finals, final

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·3-min read
Croatia's Marin Cilic, who won the 2014 US Open men's singles title, will be playing at the Singapore Tennis Open.
Croatia's Marin Cilic, who won the 2014 US Open men's singles title, will be playing at the Singapore Tennis Open. (PHOTO: Reuters/Antonio Bronic)

SINGAPORE — No spectators will be allowed at Singapore's first professional men's tennis tournament in 22 years, when the Singapore Tennis Open begins on Saturday (20 February) at the OCBC Arena.

However, The Straits Times reported tournament organisers as saying that up to 250 fans may be allowed for the semi-finals and final if there are no tournament-related positive COVID-19 cases.

For now, tennis fans have to watch live streams of the matches on the meWATCH website, the Hub.Tennis website and the beIN Sports channel when the main tournament runs from 22 to 28 February. Mediacorp will also have a live broadcast of the finals on 28 February.

Former US Open winner among the participants

The Singapore Tennis Open is an ATP250-level tournament, the third-highest tier of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournaments outside the four annual grand slam events.

It will feature a 28 men's singles players and 16 men's doubles teams, with the qualifying rounds beginning on Saturday.

World No.35 Adrian Mannarino will lead the singles field, along with 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic and world No.57 Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Belgium's Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen will lead the doubles field, with India's Rohan Bopanna and Japan’s Ben McLachlan being the highest-ranked Asian pair in the draw as the third seeds. 

Southeast Asian players competing in the doubles draw include Treat Huey of the Philippines and Christopher Rungkat from Indonesia. Singapore will be represented by Shaheed Alam and Roy Hobbs, both of whom will be playing in the singles qualifying rounds.

“The international tournament is a good opportunity for our local talent to gain valuable experience by competing among some of the best players in the world," said Singapore Tennis Association president Clement Leow. 

"This will be an exciting tournament for the tennis fans as well. We are also extremely grateful to all the government agencies and the ATP for bringing this tournament to life.”

Safe management measures at the Open

Players travelling from the Australian Open to participate in the Singapore Tennis Open will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, and will be isolated until they receive a negative test result. They will also need to download the TraceTogether app during their Singapore stay.

All players will be isolated and have their movements strictly managed between their official hotel and the OCBC Arena. They will also undergo daily COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests throughout their stay.

Players will be further isolated in individual team “bubbles” and will not be able to have close and prolonged interaction with other players. Overseas officials and tournament staff will also be required to adhere to similar protocol and will have no direct contact with the players.

Local tournament staff, officials, and volunteers are required to undergo daily antigen rapid tests and will only be allowed on-site upon receiving a negative test result. These personnel will be socially-distanced and have no physical contact with players. 

Measures such as virtual press conferences, electronic line-calling and dedicated socially-distanced zones will further segment the working groups. Organisers said that containment plans have also been developed should there be a COVID-19 case detected.

"Hosting the Singapore Tennis Open will give us an opportunity to exercise our protocols and show how we can restart international-level sports offerings safely in Singapore," said Lim Teck Yin, Sport Singapore's chief executive officer and organising committee chairman of the Singapore Tennis Open. 

"The tournament will be held with stringent safe management measures in place, ensuring that all who are involved in the tournament and those in the wider community are safe. We have outlined multiple scenarios and have developed measures and plans to mitigate them."

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Related story:

Singapore to host ATP 250 tennis tournament in February, a week after Australian Open