The Indian Wells tennis tournament is right beside Coachella — chronologically and geographically.
Coronavirus is creeping ever closer to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
On Sunday organizers of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament made the last minute decision to cancel the event over public health concerns.
The annual competition is hosted at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which is right next to the famous festival — both geographically and chronologically.
The tennis event, less than seven miles from the Empire Polo Club where Coachella is hosted, was due to begin on March 9 and run up to the 22, just 19 days before the music and arts festival gets underway.
The Tennis Garden also serves as Goldenvoice HQ for distributing will-call passes and press credentials.
"There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size," said David Agus, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, in a press release.
"It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak."
The decision comes as Riverside County Public Health Department declared a public health emergency following confirmation of its first case of the virus.
"We appreciate the proactive stance tournament organizers are taking to ensure public health and safety,” added Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Eisenhower Health.
The tournament organizers consulted with medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California before deciding to pull the plug.
"We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance," said Tournament Director Tommy Haas. "We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options."
Fans who purchased tickets can get full refunds, or credit to next year’s tournament.
Last year almost half a million fans traveled to Palm Springs to watch the two-week long competition.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem and teen sensation Coco Gauff were all due to take part, some of whom tweeted their disappointment and understanding.
"You probably all heard the news. Indian Wells cancelled. We are here and still deciding what’s next," Nadal tweeted. "So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe."
"So sad to hear the news about the postponing of the @BNPPARIBASOPEN," Gauff added. "I was so excited to make my debut in IW, but safety is always the no.1 priority. Stay safe."
All eyes now turn to Coachella, where 250,000 people are expected to descend on the polo grounds for the two-weekend festival. On Friday organizers of Coachella’s Texan rival — South by Southwest in Austin — made the decision to cancel.
Health officials will also be aware that 25 percent of the population of Palm Springs is over 65 — a group at higher risk of serious Coronavirus complications — compared to 15 percent throughout the US.
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