Roger Federer beat John Isner in the 2019 Miami Open final. — AFP/VNA Photo
MIAMI — The ATP and WTA Miami Open was called off on Thursday by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and began halting mass gatherings.
The hardcourt tennis tournament, one of the world's top events outside of the Grand Slams, was scheduled to begin with qualifying on March 23 and run through April 5.
The ATP and WTA earlier wiped out the combined event at Indian Wells, California, which was to have started main-draw play on Thursday.
And the ATP later announced a six-week halt to the season that also included another US tournament, the US Clay Court Championships that had been set for next month in Houston.
The news came hours after the NBA, including the Miami Heat, halted its season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Miami-Dade County is under a state of emergency as we deal with the public health threat of COVID-19," Gimenez said in a statement.
"Although we do not have community spread at this time, we want to take the preemptive steps to keep it that way.
"Therefore, I have decided to suspend the operation of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, the Miami Open tennis tournament, the MIA 5K run, and all major events at the American Airlines Arena."
Also axed was a planned stock car race on March 22 at Homestead Miami Speedway, with NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) to decide if the race would be conducted without spectators.
"As we move forward together during this time, we will continue to monitor what the World Health Organization has determined is a global pandemic," Gimenez said. "We will constantly evaluate planned mass gatherings as the situation evolves."
The ATP followed by confirming a halt to events worldwide, inluding the Miami and Houston events as well as others in Marrakech, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Budapest.
The move came in the wake of the World Health Organization declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a global pandemic and the US issuing a 30-day travel restriction for foreign nationals from 26 European countries.
"This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide," ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said.
"However we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.
"The worldwide nature of our sport and the international travel required presents significant risks and challenges in today’s circumstances, as do the increasingly restrictive directives issued by local authorities.
"We continue to monitor this on a daily basis and we look forward to the tour resuming when the situation improves." — AFP