Berlin exhibition matches in July to allow 800 fans

Tennis

BERLIN — Up to 800 spectators per day will be allowed at a tennis exhibition in Berlin in mid-July, even after four players tested positive for the coronavirus after playing in a similar event fronted by Novak Djokovic.

Organizers of two tournaments in Berlin said Tuesday the city health authorities have approved a limited number of spectators.

The maximum is set at 800 per day for a July 13-15 outdoor event on grass and 200 per day for a hard-court event in a hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport from July 17 to 19.

Organizers said it was the first sporting event in Germany to have spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other sports such as Germany’s soccer and basketball leagues resumed in empty stadiums.

There was little social distancing at top-ranked Djokovic’s Adria Tour series in the Balkans in recent weeks, as some players were seen hugging each other and partying in nightclubs. The series was cut short after three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for the coronavirus. Djokovic, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also went on to test positive.

The Berlin organizers promise strict hygiene and social distancing measures. Spectators will have to arrive wearing masks, which they can remove in the stands. Many seats will be left empty.

Players and staff will be tested for the coronavirus, must abide by social distancing rules off the court and will have their temperatures taken.

“Since the whole tennis world will be looking toward Berlin and the tournaments, the participants and all of the staff must be conscious of their status as role models,” organizer Edwin Weindorfer said.

The Berlin events include two players, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, who were also at the Adria Tour exhibitions. They’re playing along with Nick Kyrgios, who was a sharp critic of Djokovic’s events on social media, as well as Jan-Lennard Struff, Jannik Sinner and Tommy Haas.

The women’s field consists of Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova, Julia Goerges, Caroline Garcia and Andrea Petkovic. The same players contest both the grass and hard-court events in Berlin.

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