Simona Halep pulls out of Palermo Open due to quarantine order

World No. 2 Simona Halep has withdrawn from next month's Palermo Ladies Open following Italy's decision to impose a mandatory quarantine for people coming from Romania and Bulgaria amid the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers said yesterday.

"Given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Romania and my anxieties around international air travel at this time, I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Palermo," Halep said on Twitter.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday people who have been in Romania and Bulgaria in the past 14 days will be quarantined upon arrival in Italy, a move aimed at preventing the importation of Covid-19 cases.

However, the tournament's director Oliviero Palma said the organisers had written an urgent letter to Speranza, asking for exemption for tennis players taking part in the event.

"Yesterday we were optimistic, and we had informed Halep's staff about the fact that professional players are not obliged to quarantine," Palma said. "We are embittered and profoundly disappointed."

Palermo will be the first professional tennis event across the WTA and men's ATP Tours after a five-month break, with action scheduled to get underway on the clay courts of the Sicilian capital from Aug 3.

Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, has also committed to the Prague Open, scheduled to start on Aug 10. - REUTERS