Players may also have to retire in Montreal

Montreal’s National Bank Open isn’t immune to the same backlash as Wimbledon, where two of its favorites were forced to retire before even hitting their first ball of the tournament ailing from COVID-19.

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Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, last year’s finalist on English turf, and Croatia’s Marin Cilic, champion of the 2014 United States Open, have both tested positive for the virus in recent days.

In the case of Berrettini, the All England Club’s eighth favorite, he opted for a test, AFP reported on Tuesday. The protocol requiring players to be tested a certain number of times disappeared at Wimbledon.

Like in Montreal

It will be the same in Montreal starting August 6, explains Richard Quirion, Tournament Director of Tennis Canada, following Public Health recommendations.

“For example, are we sure that a Rafael Nadal has symptoms, gets tested and gets a positive result, forcing him to withdraw from the tournament? Of course we are thinking about it,” says Mr. Quirion.

But he still believes his stress level will be much lower than the last tournament when he was struggling to sleep.

In 2021, the rules surrounding hosting the National Bank Open were very strict. Players were tested every three days. They all stayed in the same hotel, which was closed to the public.

The director received daily the results of the tests that had been carried out the day before. One morning the computer showed a positive result, which ultimately turned out to be false (a false positive result). His heart then did three rounds.

But in the end, only one player – whose identity was never revealed – contracted COVID-19. It was during qualifying and she spent the next 14 days in solitary confinement.

Rely on good faith

This year, with the end of the systematic testing, Mr. Quirion recognizes that it will be necessary to rely on the “good faith” of the players and all the staff working during the tournament.

He has ordered hundreds of rapid tests that can be delivered to the hotel for players who request them after symptoms appear.

A nurse has also been hired to test athletes who feel ill at IGA Stadium. She will have rapid tests and PCR tests in her possession.

These serve to verify a positive result. For example, “if a player would have made it to the quarter-finals, to make sure that he actually contracted the virus and that it was not a residue of a recent infection,” explains M. Quirion.

Because a positive test, like everywhere else, leads to isolation for at least five days, which would eliminate the player at the same time.

Employees who take care of athletes – such as physiotherapists – will wear a mask. You are the only ones obliged to do this.

Surfaces are also regularly disinfected. Tournament drivers are encouraged to drive with the windows open to reduce the risk of spread.

Still without Djokovic

In addition, all participants must be sufficiently vaccinated, as entry into Canada is mandatory.

On Wednesday, the federal government announced that the current rules for travelers will apply until at least the end of September.

This means that the Serb Novak Djokovic, second in the world, will not play in the metropolis of Québec unless Canada revises this obligation for professional athletes in the meantime.

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