World No. 2 Romanian tennis player Simona Halep pulled out WTA tournament in Palermo on Sunday over oronavirus-related concerns.
“Given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and my anxieties around international air travel at this time, I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Palermo,” she tweeted. “I want to thank the tournament director and the Italian ministry of health for all efforts on my behalf.”
Tournament director Oliviero Palma expressed his frustration over Halep’s withdrawal in a statement. “We found out Halep’s decision with great bitterness. Yesterday we were optimistic, and we had informed Halep’s staff about the fact that professional players are not obliged to quarantine,” said Palma. “We are embittered and profoundly disappointed.”
According to the tournament organizers, this decision, which was communicated to them through the the Romanian player’s manager, Virginia Ruzici, is related to the quarantine imposed in Italy against people traveling to Italy from Romania and Bulgaria.
The measure was adopted by the Italian authorities on Friday, while Romania and Bulgaria have seen an increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The organizers of the WTA tournament in Palermo, scheduled to begin on August 3 and which will mark the resumption of the women’s professional tennis circuit, said on Friday that they had requested a derogation from the quarantine obligation for people coming from Romania and which could prevent Simona Halep, world number two, from competing.
“We have sent an urgent request to the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, to request a derogation from the last ordinance for the tennis players who will participate in the tournament,” the director of the tournament, Oliviero Palma explained in a statement.
The director of the tournament which will take place between 1 and 9 August in Palermo, said he was convinced that “the health protocols adopted by the WTA are strict enough to guarantee the safety and health of athletes, but also of all people involved in the event”.
Professional tennis tours were cut off in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.