Tata Open Maharashtra on schedule despite Omicron surge

The only change, tournament Director Prashant Sutar hinted, would be that play may be held behind closed doors against the earlier plan of allowing up to 500 fully vaccinated spectators per day.

India's Sumit Nagal in action at the Tata Open Maharashtra.   -  Special Arrangement

Despite the rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, organisers of Tata Open Maharashtra, India’s lone ATP 250 tournament scheduled to start on January 31 in Pune, are confident that the tournament would go ahead.

The only change, tournament Director Prashant Sutar hinted, would be that play may be held behind closed doors against the earlier plan of allowing up to 500 fully vaccinated spectators per day.

Speaking to Sportstar, Sutar said: “Back then Omicron wasn’t this big, but the situation is getting worse now. So about allowing fans, we will take a call closer to the tournament.”

“Overall, we are not that worried [about the tournament]. We have taken two dedicated floors at the hotel and we need to take care of the players movement between the hotel and the stadium,” he added.

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With rules for international arrivals changing by the day, Sutar said that they were in regular touch with the Maharashtra government. The 2021 edition of the tournament was not held because Maharashtra did not relax mandatory quarantine requirements.

The competition in Pune will be followed by two weeks of ATP Challenger-level tennis in Bengaluru. Sunil Yajaman, joint-secretary of the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association, was similarly upbeat about the conduct.

“Our preparations are on,” said Yajaman. “Whatever the government asks us to do regarding the protocols to be followed, we will do it. Right now, it’s too early to think of what might be.”

Yajaman also played down the possibility of there being new restrictions for international travellers. “If I speak now, it will be pure speculation. But world over tournaments are happening and people are travelling. There are no more restrictions in India than say Australia. So, I don’t think there will be much of an issue.”

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