Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli, two golfers from Italy, were caught up in a coronavirus incident after being forced to withdraw from the Oman Open. They were later reinstated during the opening round of the event.
Having traveled to the gulf state from Italy for the latest event of the European Tour season, the pair withdrew from the tournament at Al Mouj Golf Club after being quarantined in Muscat due to the concerns about the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, which has had a particularly bad recent outbreak in Italy.
The decision came after Gagli showed flu-like symptoms in the build up to the event, which followed the spread of coronavirus into Lombardy in northern Italy in the past week where there has been 12 deaths and 400 reported cases, and he was isolated as per the guidelines of the World Health Organisation.
With both insolation and undergoing tests, the Oman Open got underway as planned without them. But that all changed on Thursday when Gagli’s tests came back negative and the European Tour suddenly announced the he, along with Molinari, would be allowed to take part and would tee off together as an additional pairing at the end of the opening day.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “This is a difficult global situation, one during which we will continue to follow all guidance given to us on preventive measures, and all decisions will continue to be made in the interests of overall public health.
“We will also continue to work closely with our own health experts and local authorities to ensure we have the latest medical and travel advice for all our tournaments, because the well-being of our players, staff and spectators remains the European Tour’s absolute priority.”
It is the latest incident involving golf and coronavirus, with the LPGA Tour having previously announced the decision to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay, which was scheduled to be staged on Hainan Island in China from March 5.
The PGA TOUR Series-China was also severely affected with the early part of the season cancelled due to the ongoing spread of the virus.
The PGA TOUR had originally planned to move three qualifiers for the PGA TOUR Series-China from Haikou, China, to Laguna Golf Bintan in Lagoi, Indonesia, but instead cancelled them and shortened the season.
The PGA TOUR Series-China was due to begin in late March, but the opening four events were shelved. Two qualifiers are currently planned for late April or early May, and the regular season should begin in late May or early June.
The result is that there will be 10 events played this season rather than the planned 14 PGA TOUR Series-China tournaments. The top five finishers in the Order of Merit earn exemption for next year’s Korn Ferry Tour, underlining just how important the series is for up-and-coming Asian talents. Those finishing 6-10 on the Order of Merit gain a place in the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School.
It’s not just players from Italy who are getting caught up in coronavirus precautions. Sporting events across the world—particularly in China—have been cancelled due to the outbreak. The most recent to be postponed in Europe was the Six Nations Rugby match between Italy and Scotland scheduled for this weekend.