Tennis’ BNP Paribas Open postponed until later in 2021

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The BNP Paribas Open, featuring the men’s and women’s pro tennis tours, won’t be held in March as originally scheduled.

Tournament organizers said Tuesday they are working with the ATP and WTA tours as well as the title sponsor to confirm dates later in 2021 for the event in Indian Wells, California. It was originally set for March 8-21 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The decision to postpone the event was made after consulting with state and local public health officials and tournament owner Larry Ellison.

Coronavirus hospitalizations are stabilizing in parts of California but patients are still overwhelming hospitals in a large swath of the state. Intensive care units in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining, according to state figures. Gov. Gavin Newsom said it was “self-evident” his latest stay-at-home order would be extended Tuesday in places where hospital ICUs have less than 15% capacity.

This year’s tournament was the first major U.S. sporting event called off after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Coachella Valley in March. Initially, organizers had hoped to reschedule it for later in the year, but the coronavirus crisis only worsened.

The event typically draws upwards of 450,000 fans. It is commonly referred to as the “fifth slam” because of its popularity among the players and its stature, ranking points and over $17 million in prize money that place it one rung below tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments.

The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event, has been postponed to Feb. 8-21, three weeks later than usual in order to allow players and officials 14 days to quarantine after they arrive Down Under.