Let The Show Go On
The reality of life these days is that the safest way of preventing infection is to stay home and that is not always a sure bet as some have discovered. But, because life is moving forward and some of us need a break from our four walls and need to get out for various reasons, life is starting up again outside our homes. We all should be familiar with suggested ways in which to protect ourselves as we traverse these times. The same applies to tennis players and is why such strict measures are being mandated for the US Open. Looking at the images and video clips from the Adria tour, I was shocked at what looked like scenes from a not so distant past. The lack of social distancing and images of a night out and a stadium packed with spectators just felt wrong. As messages started coming into my mobile, I found myself wondering how this was happening and the feeling of this can’t end well hovered. A fact that seems to not have gotten across clearly enough is that low risk and low cases do not equal no risk and no cases. Fortunately, that part of the world experienced fewer cases of infection and death from the virus and hopefully, it will continue to be the case. It still is a reality that what took place at the Adria Tour was at best a naïve and out of touch event and at worse negligent. This should not have happened and should not affect whether other events should proceed.
It’s important to state that the organizers of the event have repeatedly said they acted within the permission and allowance of government officials. This sheds a little light on the decision making of the event. Whilst several issues could be addressed, let’s focus on one. The question that kept circling my mind was “what about the players participating who are traveling to other parts of the world after this event?” One player was flying to France to participate in another event and another was scheduled to fly to the States for an event - albeit much later, and some were flying to two other locations as part of the tour. All of the players were highly unlikely to have scheduled a built-in quarantine period. Did no one think about the “what if” of them becoming infected with the virus?
As we have seen, one infection is all it takes. No masks, no social distancing, various locations of fun visited, and large crowds. How did this happen? I found myself wondering where the PR team was. Was there anyone who said, “this isn’t safe and even if it is, it’s not a good look”? Even in a relatively safe zone, there should have been serious precautions taken and adhered to if nothing else but as a sign of comradery and unitedness with other events and tennis colleagues. At this level of influence, a person has to be more than careful, like it or not. Leadership is often uncomfortable, and decisions made unpopular, but it must be done. Perhaps, wanting to give the fans a good time and a positive experience caused more harm than good in this case. Perhaps, we as fans have to do better in realizing our world is in a different place right now and accept what good we have with less complaining and pining for what has been temporarily lost. We are living in a time that we all are taking a risk just walking out of the door and we have to be responsible to ourselves first and then to others by taking precautions that are at times annoying and uncomfortable. This is our reality.
When I was a kid, I had a teacher that used to say, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. This week has been a bit of a mess. What happened at the Adria tour is unfortunate and hopes are that all affected will make a speedy recovery with few complications as the same hopes are extended to all experiencing this virus. It should not, however, play a role in the decision making of the fate of other events because what happened at the Adria tour simply should not have happened: no ifs, and, or buts about it. Hopefully, the precautions in place at the US Open make better sense now. It is better to seem excessively cautious. It has to be said that there will always be a risk with this virus when people are gathered and is why it is vital people use commonsense and just get on with carrying out the precautions. It is at times uncomfortable and annoying, but it is necessary and a process most humans will have to deal with for the time being in all walks of life. We cannot panic and start from scratch and shut everything down moving forward; we must learn and move forward. It is just possible that the mistakes made with this tour will allow other events and tournaments to look over their safety measures and forge ahead with improved precautions in place. The goal is to provide as safe an environment as possible and no one has to fail at this moving forward. Let the show go on.
- A tennis observer