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Citi Open Aims to Play with Limited Attendance


The Citi Open in Washington, DC could play as planned in front of fans practicing social distancing.

Citi Open tournament owner Mark Ein says staff is aiming to host the tournament as scheduled the first week of August—and permit a limited number of spectators to attend.

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In a video chat with Citi Open ticket holders, Ein said the aim to host the combined men's and women's event with a thousand fans or fewer in the 7,500-seat facility to try to ensure safety from the coronavirus.

“The chance of having 7,500 people a night at the beginning of August is extraordinarily low,” Ein said. “We haven’t ruled anything out at this point, but the chance of being able to pack a stadium, if you’re being realistic, is extremely low.

“Really we’re focused on scenarios where our hope would be that we can play it with some number of fans. We're really thinking of hundreds to a thousand [fans]."

The ATP and WTA jointly announced continued suspension of the pro circuit through July 13th due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Citi Open is scheduled for August 1st-19th at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, DC. The tournament drew a record 72,000 fans last year.

“It would be unbelievably exciting,” Ein said. “We are the only men’s event on the global calendar that week. San Jose is also on the women’s side there. I think we’ll see whether they can figure out how to make it work. But this would be the first big, big event back in the tennis world."

Ein said the Citi Open is considering playing without fans, but suggests there will be limited specators if the tournament plays as scheduled.

"If we can pull it off that’s what’s motivating us, but we will not do it unless it can be absolutely safe," Ein said. "If we can do it there’s some chance and you’ve been reading events are held with no fans snd that’s definitely something that’s being considered.

"To me, if you can figure that out then you can probably figure out how to have some amount of fans in a facility as big as ours.”

Photo credit: Citi Open

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