Tennis is over with Covid-19, but tennis is not over with the virus

Wimbledon, England. With the final match approaching, Wimbledon has already proven a lot of points this year.

Rafael Nadal can play tennis with a zombie leg and rupture of the abdominal musclebut only for the time being. Iga Swiatek defeatedat least on grass. A native of Moscow and a representative of Kazakhstan, Elena Rybakina reached the final of the women’s singles. except for Russian players does not necessarily exempt the competition from Russian players.

But perhaps most surprisingly, after 27 months of canceled tournaments, events without spectators, constant tests and bubbles, tennis may finally be past Covid-19.

For nearly two years, longer than any other major sport, tennis has struggled to coexist with the pandemic.

Last November, when the NFL, NBA, Premier League and most other sports organizations resumed a life much like 2019, tennis players still lived with restrictions on their movements, holding online video press conferences and plugging their noses with cotton swabs at tournaments.

A month later, Novak Djokovic, then No. 1. The first men’s singles player contracted a second case of Covid just in time to secure what he believed to be special entry to Australia to compete in the Australian Open, even though he had not been vaccinated against Covid- 19, and the country was still largely restricted to people who had been vaccinated. Australian officials ended up deporting him because they said he might encourage other people not to get vaccinated, but drama that dominated Preparation for the tournament and its first days.

The episode showed how tennis, with its kinetic international schedule, was subject to the will and whims of local authorities, with rules and restrictions changing sometimes on a weekly basis. Frequent traveling and shared dressing rooms made the players a bit of a sitting duck, always a stroke away from being locked in a hotel room for 10 days, sometimes far from home, no matter how careful they might be.

Tennis, unlike other sports that have outpaced medical and medical advice to fill their coffers, had to reflect the state of society as a whole at every stage of the pandemic. Its main organizers canceled or postponed everything in the spring and early summer of 2020, although Djokovic held an exhibition tournament that eventually became something of a super-spread.

US Open 2020 was scheduled at the end of the summer without spectators. Finding yourself at the usually bustling Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during those weeks in New York was like being on the surface of the moon. BUT rescheduled French Open followed in the cold of a Parisian autumn with several hundred fans. Australia basically put players in a 14-day quarantine before they could take part in the tournament. Australian Open 2021.

As vaccinations spread at the end of the year, the crowds returned, but players usually had to live in bubbles, unable to move around the cities they lived in until the US summer events. But as the delta variant spread, the bubbles returned. A confrontation between Australia and Djokovic over vaccines followed, just as disputes over mandates flared up elsewhere.

However, in recent months, as public attitudes towards the pandemic have shifted, mask-wearing requirements have been lifted and travel restrictions have been eased, even tennis appears to have moved forward, even if the virus hasn’t done the same.

There was no mandatory testing for Wimbledon or the French Open. People do not understand what to do if they have a runny nose or a sore throat, and tennis players are no exception. Many players said they weren’t sure exactly what the rules were from tournament to tournament for those who started to feel unwell. While two well-known players, Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilicleft the game after testing positive without having to take the test, they and any other player could choose not to take the test and go through any symptoms they experienced.

“So many rules,” said Rafael Nadal. “Some people fit certain rules; not suitable for other rules. If there are any rules, we must follow them. If not, then the world is a mess.”

However, after nearly two years of the bubble, there have been little to no complaints about don’t ask, don’t tell and security requirements.

Ayla Tomljanovic from Australia, which has one of the strictest pandemic policies in place, said she remains cautious, especially at large events, but she has reached a point where she needs to strike a balance between safety and sanity.

“I just try to take care of myself as much as I can, where I haven’t fully isolated myself yet, where life is not fun,” said Tomlyanovic, who lost to Rybakina in the quarterfinals.

Paula Badosa, the Spanish star, said she stopped worrying about the virus.

“I have had every possible type of Covid,” said Badosa, who tested positive for the first time in Australia in January 2021 and has had it twice more. “I also got vaccinated. So in my case, if I have it again, it will be a very bad omen.

Officials from the men’s and women’s tours said that regardless of the level of infection, their organizations are not going to resume regular testing or restrict the movement of players. They said they would follow the example of the local authorities.

As testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements have all but disappeared or exist only as guidelines, tennis seems to have finally entered a stage of pandemic apathy, like so many other societies, Omicron and its subspecies be damned.

There is, of course, one major exception to all of this, and that is Djokovic, whose refusal to vaccinate – unique among the top 100 players on the men’s tour – apparently prevent him from playing in the US Open.

US regulations require all foreigners entering the country to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Djokovic said he believes people should be given the right to choose whether it should be done without pressure from governments.

Also, since he has been deported from Australia, Djokovic will need a special release to return to the country to compete in the Australian Open in January. He won the men’s singles title there a record nine times.

If the rules don’t change, he won’t be able to compete in another Grand Slam until the French Open next May.

In other words, Covid really doesn’t stop playing tennis.