Organisers of the All-American Cup in Atlanta have suffered a huge blow after it was confirmed that one player has tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
Frances Tiafoe has confirmed that he has contracted the virus following a test done late last night. Making it the first case of COVID-19 among players at a tournament outside of Europe. The announcement comes after he withdrew from the event with what was first assumed to be injury-related. Tiafoe required a medical timeout during the second set of his match against Sam Querrey.
“Unfortunately, I tested positive late Friday for Covid-19 and have to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup special event in Atlanta this weekend,” the world No.81 said in a statement.
“Over the past two months, I have been training in Florida and tested negative as recently as a week ago before travelling to Atlanta. I am scheduled to have a second test early next week, but have already begun the quarantine protocol as advised by the medical staff here in Atlanta. While I’ve been so excited to get back out there, the health and safety of everyone continues to be a top priority.”
Reports of a COVID-19 case at the event started to circulate on Saturday morning when British player Tara Moore tweeted that she had heard ‘from a couple of players’ that somebody had tested positive in Atlanta. Moore is a member of the newly formed ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel.
In a statement issued by the organisers of the All-American Cup, they confirmed that Tiafoe was showing symptoms of the virus following his match before later testing positive. Although they didn’t specify as to what his symptoms are. The tournament will still continue with Tiafoe being replaced in the draw by Christopher Eubanks.
“Frances Tiafoe has tested positive for the coronavirus. Like all the players, Tiafoe was tested prior to or upon arrival in Atlanta and has passed daily temperature tests. Following his match, he was showing symptoms and was retested and tested positive,” tournament director Eddie Gonzalez said in a statement.
“Tiafoe has left the event site and will not participate in the remainder of the event. Upon learning this information, we immediately began deep cleaning and sanitizing the event site, and enacted protocols in place for contact tracing and alerting individuals who may have been exposed. The health and safety of our event participants, staff and attendees are a top priority, and we will continue to diligently enforce all guidelines from local health officials.”
Despite the assurances, said by Gonzalez, questions remain. Especially in regards to Tiafoe, who said during his post-match interview on Friday that he hadn’t been feeling well in recent days but still decided to continue playing in the tournament.
Probably explains why Tiafoe was struggling so much in the heat as he beat Querrey yesterday: “I haven’t been feeling the best the last couple of days.” pic.twitter.com/u2K1vFbjO8
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) July 4, 2020
A rise in cases
The All-American Cup is a team tournament which features the eight highest ranked American players on the ATP Tour. Held at Life Time Fitness in Peachtree Corners, 450 people are allowed to attend the event daily. Which equates to roughly 30% of the stadium’s maximum capacity.
There has recently been concerns about opening the event up to the public due to the rise in cases in the region. Georgia, which is the state Atlanta is in, has seen the number of new cases increase by more than 50% over the past week based on information obtained by the John Hopkins University. Meanwhile, 1,400 Georgia healthcare workers have signed a petition sent to the state’s governor asking for stricter measures to be implemented to help stop the spread.
“I just think it’s an unnecessary risk right now,” world No.225 Noah Rubin told Front Row Sports about the event earlier this week. “If you weigh the pros and cons, and when I do it quickly in my head, it doesn’t add up. What are we gaining from taking this risk right now? Numbers [of COVID-19 cases] are going in the wrong direction. You have Georgia being one of those states that’s highly affected by a spike. It just doesn’t really make sense when I put it all together.”
John Isner, who is the country’s highest ranked player, has previously hit back at concerns over the Atlanta event. Saying to a series of Twitter users ‘You coronabros can stay in your basement all you want. I choose to live my life and play/promote the sport I love in a safe manner.” In a separate tweet Isner said that he was not downplaying the seriousness of the virus. Although he did like one tweet which said ‘the virus is much less lethal than the first models predicted.’
Isner was one of three players on Team Stripes to score wins on the first day of the tournament along with Tennys Sandgren and Steve Johnson. As for Team Stars, their only victory was thanks to Tiafoe, who downed Sam Querrey in straight sets.
Tiefoe is the latest top player to have tested positive as the sport nears it return to competitive tennis. Recently the Adria Tour was scrapped following an outbreak during the Zadar leg in which Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Novak Djokovic among others got infected. Meanwhile, at the Eastern European Championships two players tested positive just over a week ago.