Blow for ITF as new-look Davis and Fed Cups scrapped for 2020
The International Tennis Federation has scrapped this year’s Davis Cup Finals and Fed Cup Finals, the men’s and women’s national team competitions, respectively, due to complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
The next version of the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, Spain originally scheduled for 23 to 29 November, will now take place the week commencing 22 November 2021. The same 18 nations will be involved.
The ITF said it made its decision to postpone the event following a three-month review of the logistic and regulatory challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
David Haggerty, ITF president, said: “This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk.
“It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”
Gerard Pique, president of Kosmos Tennis, the sports and media investment group that has invested $3 billion to revamp the Davis Cup into a week-long competition, added: “This postponement has no long-term bearing on our collective ambitions for the Davis Cup. The ITF and Kosmos Tennis look forward to delivering an outstanding competition in 2021, which it is safe and feasible to do so.”
It would have been the second edition of the revamped Davis Cup, with Spain having won the inaugural tournament on home soil in November.
The Fed Cup has yet to show off its new look, with the Finals set to have debuted in Budapest in April. They were cancelled in March and the ITF had hoped to rearrange them for later this year, but has now accepted defeat.
The inaugural 12-team tournament will now be played from 13 to 18 April, 2021 at the Laszlo Papp Arena in the Hungarian capital.
The ITF explained: “In addition to the Laszlo Papp Arena being unavailable over the latter part of the year, there remain significant logistical and regulatory challenges that mean hosting an indoor mass gathering while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved was not feasible.”
Haggerty said: “We believe the best way forward in order both to protect the health and safety of all involved and to best respect the integrity of the competition is to extend this year’s Fed Cup into 2021, with the even returning to an annual basis the following year.”
Balazs Furjes, Hungarian secretary of state of Budapest’s Development and International Sports Events, said: “We appreciate the trust that the ITF has shown in us during these difficult times and we look forward to continuing our partnership over the next year and beyond. To host such a prestigious event in our magnificent city underlines our ambition to maintain Budapest’s position as one of the global capitals in sport.”
Kosmos has no involvement in the Fed Cup, full financial responsibility for which resides with the Hungarian government.
Tennis has arguably been the worst affected sport during the pandemic, with the Wimbledon Championships cancelled and the French Open delayed from late May to late September. As a result the 2020 Laver Cup, the international men’s team tennis competition between Europe and the rest of the world, set for Boston, USA was moved to September 2021.
In addition, the men's and women's ATP and WTA Tours, on hold since mid-March, are set to resume in August.
Elsewhere, organisers of athletics’ top-tier Diamond League have cancelled this year’s meetings in Paris, France and Eugene, US because of the pandemic.
In a statement, World Athletics said: “Following the latest government announcements on the organisation of major events in France, meeting organisers concluded that there is not enough time to organise a world-class international event in the French capital this year.”
The event in Eugene, originally scheduled for 6 October, was cancelled as the state of Oregon has a ban on gatherings, including sporting events until at least the end of September.
The meeting at Gateshead in England, which was scheduled for 16 August, has been postponed, with 12 September identified as a possible alternate date.
Last month, a new provisional shorted calendar for the 2020 season of the Diamond League was announced, as part of an overall rejig to international athletics this year.
The season was set to start in Monaco on 14 August and end in China on 17 October but due to the ongoing health crisis, meetings in London, Rabat and Zurich have been cancelled while other events on the calendar have been postponed.
Organisers said this year’s Diamond League will not be a structured series of events leading to a final as per a normal season and athletes will not earn Diamond League points this season.
Elsewhere, the European Handball Federation, has cancelled the finals of this season’s Women’s EHF Champions League.
The quarter-finals and ‘Final4’ matches were scheduled to take place in Budapest from 3 to 6 September, however due to the global health situation the EHF executive committee today took the decision to cancel.
The EHF said the cancellation does not impact the start of next season’s Champions League, with the first round scheduled to start on the weekend of the 12 and 13 September.
Michael Wiederer, EHF president, said: “Over the past months, the EHF has always said that matches will only be played if a safe environment for everyone involved can be ensured. There is still uncertainty regarding the development across Europe and therefor the consequences for a handball festival in front of enthusiastic fans.”
Gabriella Horvath, Hungarian Handball Federation secretary general, said: “This is an extraordinary situation - and there is no doubt that the health and safety go above all. Nevertheless, we are disappointed.
“The HHF as the local organisers has always been ready to prepare the event and do its utmost for year another great EHF Final4.”
The Women's Champions League matches for this month were cancelled in April, when the EHF and its marketing division began accessing the possibility of bundling the quarter-finals in with the Final4 on the first weekend of September.
An October date was also considered, but that would have meant no quarter-finals would be possible.