From Tennis Canada President and CEO Michael Downey:
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennis Canada has been committed to making decisions favourable to fostering a safe sporting environment. In a time where we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, this commitment includes the health and wellbeing our entire community, including recreational tennis players, no matter their level.
It is in this context that we cancelled all our tournaments until July 12 as well certain major events, including the Montreal Rogers Cup, which was scheduled to take place in August. It is also with the goal of respecting this commitment that on April 9, while we were in the heart of the crisis, Tennis Canada, following recommendations made by Public Health in Canada, issued its own recommendations and strongly advised that all players across the country refrain from playing the sport that they love so much.
Today, Tennis Canada recognizes that the situation has evolved and that different areas in Canada are affected in different ways. As a progressive deconfinement is being discussed more and more, we believe that it will be possible to make a progressive return to playing tennis in certain cities and regions in Canada, if this return is properly outlined.
Tennis is one the fastest growing sports in Canada, making it one of the most popular sports across the country. In fact, 6.5 million Canadians practice the sport annually. Tennis is also equally played by men and women alike. The tennis industry is supported by 7,500 outdoor tennis courts, predominately in located in parks, and another 740 indoor tennis courts. Each year, we estimate that the tennis industry generates more than $500 million for the Canadian economy.
As the warm weather is upon us and after several weeks of confinement, we predict an increased willingness of Canadians to go outside, be active and be able to participate in certain recreational activities. Tennis is a unique sport which provides many benefits, particularly for people’s health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically. It is also a sport that is accessible, safe and affordable.
As plans to reopen are being announced in several Canadian provinces, we ask that you consider opening outdoor tennis courts in the early stages of these plans. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create its share of challenges and concerns and that it therefore remains imperative to take certain precautions to ensure safety for all, but we are convinced that by putting various measures in place to support a progressive return to playing tennis, our sport can be played safely while adhering to social distancing. This is precisely what other countries around the world have been demonstrating. As of April 29, countries like Australia, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Argentina and Hungary have already authorized playing tennis with certain restrictions.
It is with this conviction that Tennis Canada has studied all best practices and precautions being implemented to ensure a safe and healthy environment and has issued its recommendations to prepare players as well as club administrators and anyone organizing tennis-related activities for a progressive return. Please find these recommendations below:
As you prepare to reopen your facilities, parks and programs, we hope that you will evaluate and consider our request. We firmly believe that sport must be part of the recovery plans for a healthy Canada, both physically and mentally, and that through the measures that we are ready to implement to restart our sport, you will realize that it is entirely possible to play tennis while respecting guidelines set out by Public Health in Canada.
We would like to thank you for considering this request and we remain entirely at your disposal to answer any questions or provide you with more details.
President and CEO, Tennis Canada