Tennis is venturing to be one of the first sports back following cancellations and postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. The “Tennis Point Exhibition Series” is scheduled to begin in Germany on May 1, after the country began relaxing its lockdown guidelines in three states this week.
The tournament is the largest of its size in over a month, but that still doesn’t mean this will be on a similar scale as a major or grand slam. The tournament will feature only local players, with those outside of Germany still unable to travel in for the event. This mean no competitors inside the world top-100 rankings, but it’s a sign nonetheless that sports are looking to return to normal.
It remains to be seen how international sports like tennis will continue to adapt to travel bans in effect to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For now the Tennis Point Exhibition Series could be a litmus test for how the sport could proceed over the summer. However, as The Telegraph noted, there are other challenges coming about from these small, insular pools of talent.
Organizers were quick to obtain approval from the Tennis Integrity Unit to ensure safeguards were met to prevent match fixing, not just for the sake of competitive sanctity, but to protect the gambling community. The tournament will be one of the first to return for sports bettors, with scores being relayed to Sportsradar for gaming purposes.
The ATP is similarly concerned with the risks of match fixing. They’re concerned low-ranked players who have already had their earnings cut due to the pandemic could be swayed to hurt the integrity of the game — but for now attempts are being made to play on, see what happens, and adapt as needed.
The tournament in Germany will be played without a crowd, with only a few officials on the court to oversee matches. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to coronavirus charities. Rodney Rapson, the organizer of the German tournament, already has plans in place to replicate the tournament in Atlanta, Georgia — should stay at home orders be relaxed.