By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Organizers of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Thursday said they have added more than 250 hand sanitizers throughout the facility and are training staff to protect everyone involved with the tournament from the coronavirus.
The annual event, which kicks off in the Southern Californian desert next week, drew a record 475,000 fans over its two-week run last year and organizers are confident they can keep the spectators safe.
“We remain very positive about this year’s BNP Paribas Open and look forward to welcoming everyone to Indian Wells very soon,” tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen said.
Tournament officials are following guidelines from local and national medical organizations.
“As always, our absolute top priority is the health and safety of the athletes, fans and everyone involved with the tournament,” Van Tuinen said.
Health officials on Wednesday said the first California death from the virus was an elderly person in Placer County, near Sacramento.
California Governor Gavin Newsom later declared a statewide emergency in response to the virus, which he said has resulted in 53 cases across the nation’s most populous state.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)