With Italy imposing a compulsory 14-day quarantine for people coming from Bulgaria and Romania amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the chances of world number two Simona Halep participating in the Palermo Ladies Open appear slim.
Roberto Speranza, Italy's Health Minister, said on Friday that people arriving in Italy from Bulgaria and Romania after visiting the countries in the past 14 days will be quarantined as a precaution against imported COVID-19 cases.
Organizers Seek Exemption
Palermo will mark the first professional tennis event across the WTA and men's ATP Tours since early March with action scheduled to get underway on the clay courts of the Sicilian capital from August 3. Tournament director Oliviero Palma said organizers have written an urgent letter to Speranza, asking for an exemption for tennis players taking part in the event.
"The provision would penalize a player like (Romanian) Simona Halep, world's number two and Wimbledon's reigning champion, who wouldn't take part in Palermo's tournament anymore," Palma said in a statement.
Stringent Health Precautions
Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the novel coronavirus but the number of daily new infections being reported is a fraction of those seen in late March. The country has recorded over 35,000 deaths from the virus. Palermo will have strict health precautions and all players will undergo COVID-19 tests before they come, on arrival and every four days subsequently.
"We're convinced that 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," said Palma.
"I'm convinced that there are all the necessary conditions and guarantees to give a derogation for all tennis players coming from Romania or Bulgaria, in order to avoid their quarantine and, hence, their retirement from the tournament," he added.
(With inputs from agencies)