(Reuters) - The Madrid Open that was scheduled to take place from Sept. 12-20 has been cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish capital, organisers said on Tuesday.
Initially scheduled to be played in May before the pandemic shut down sport, the tournament was to feature both men's and women's draws and was seen as an important claycourt event for players to prepare for the French Open which begins on Sept. 27.
Organisers said they had created a 'bubble' to minimise the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus but over the weekend they were advised by local health authorities not to stage the tournament next month.
The tournament's fate was sealed when a directive was issued that said "social gatherings are to be reduced to 10 people".
"As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by COVID-19 and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstances that the pandemic continues to generate... it has been decided that (the) 2020 Mutua Madrid Open will not take place this year," organisers said in a statement https://www.madrid-open.com/en/mutua-news/official-statement-from-the-mutua-madrid-open-2.
Spain, one of the worst-affected countries when the pandemic first hit Europe earlier this year, has recorded nearly 315,000 confirmed cases and over 28,400 deaths so far, according to a Reuters tally.
Both the ATP and WTA Tours released a joint statement saying the decision was taken in line with local authorities due to "health and safety concerns" and they were reassessing the calendar for the rest of the year.
"We would like to recognise the efforts of the tournament organisers who have gone to great lengths in exploring all options to run this year's tournament, despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19," they said in a statement.
"Both tours are assessing updates to the 2020 provisional calendars in regards to events following the U.S. Open, and an update will be published in due course."
The U.S. Open is scheduled to be played from Aug.31-Sept. 13.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)