Italian Open to start from September 14, health rules set

Organisers of the Italian Open tennis tournament have formally announced that the tournament will take place from September 14, with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. The final will take place on September 21.

The new dates are more than four months later than its normal spot on the calendar, reports Xinhua news agency.

The move was widely anticipated after the Madrid Open was cancelled because of fears related to the pandemic. The Italian event will now precede the French Open by two weeks instead of one.

The Italian Open, which is held on clay courts, is a key tune-up event before the clay-court French Open.

In a Monday statement to media, sponsors, and other stakeholders, the Italian Open’s main sponsor said the event will be held with COVID-19 protocols in place, including those for social distancing in locker rooms and periodic disinfecting common areas.

The Italian Open normally takes place during the second week in May, but the pandemic required the professional tennis calendar to be reshuffled, with several events suspended or reduced in scope.

The Italian Open plans to return to its normal spot on the calendar in 2021, assuming the pandemic is no longer a threat, with a May 9 start date already set.

Spaniard Rafael Nadal and the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova respectively won the men’s and women’s championships last year. Nadal went on to win the French Open later in May.