More than 700 players have signed an online petition launched by Georgian athlete Sofia Shapatava who said that the abrupt shutdown put many players on the verge of bankruptcy.
“Professional tennis players all over the world stopped to compete, whilst top athletes have resources to support themselves for a couple of months, lower ranked players suffer a lot. Not many will be able to support their everyday life and then come back to playing after three months without competition,” the petition said.
The player who is ranked 371 in the world complained that the enforced hiatus in competitions will empty their pockets as they are left without any opportunity to earn money.
“Lower-ranked tennis players have no savings and it is a very hard topic,” Shapatava said. “Usually everyone makes money on the side by coaching or club matches or prize-money tournaments but, in this situation, countries are on lockdown so there is no way to get additional income. We have no security, nor does anyone take care of us.”
The coronavirus outbreak has seriously affected tennis schedules forcing the postponement or cancellation of the biggest tournaments, including the Indian Wells and the Miami Open.
The second Grand Slam event of the season, the French Open, which should have been played in May was rescheduled for autumn. The 2020 Wimbledon tournament is expected to be cancelled as well.
Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved the 2020 Tokyo Games to 2021 to ensure the safety of all participants.