In 2019, the organizers of the Italian Open were cut a very bad figure: Wednesday schedule was canceled due to rain, but the organizers of the tournament did everything to play at least one match, in order not to refund the ticket holders.
As if in retribution, the rain lasted all day and not a match was played. There were protests, controversies and unclear statements about the relocation or refund of tickets sold. A bad figure for an ever growing tournament, one of the best ATP Masters 1000 of the season, praised by players, fans, crowds and insiders.
But last year's lesson was obviously not enough: money deriving from ticket sales is one of the most precious resources for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, so talking about reimbursements today becomes increasingly difficult and controversial.
Yet the organizers of the Italian tournament should be clear on the refunds: the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the 2020 tennis season until 7 June before, then until 13 July, with the cancellation of Wimbledon and whole the grass-swing.
If most of the tournaments were clear about how to refund or relocate tickets, the Italian Open is still in a little virtuous limbo. On the tournament website we can read: "As defined on March 18th by ATP and WTA, the associations that supervise male and female tennis on a global level, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, like the other tournaments included in the time frame until June 7th, are to be considered suspended.
The Italian Tennis Federation and Sport and Health, engaged together in organizing the tournament in Rome, are collaborating with the above-mentioned organizations in order to determine whether it is possible to reschedule the Internazionali BNL of Italy on a new date in the second half of the year.
In the interest of the tennis movement, fans and other stakeholders of the tournament, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia is not subject to cancellation but to temporary suspension. For this reason, the tournament has not yet released information on how to re-protect the tickets sold so far.
Attention to our fans remains key, therefore, we will take care of providing detailed information as soon as possible." The statement only talks about re-protection and not about refunds. Why? Because the hope of the organizers is to relocate the Italian Open.
But when? If the season ever starts again, there will be few slots available to enter the tournament, unless they will play until late December. The French Open has already taken two weeks between the end of September and the beginning of October, so the dates are few and the time to decide is getting thinner.
Angelo Binaghi had said that the FIT (Italian Tennis Federation) was considering moving the Rome Masters 1000 to another city and on another surface than clay-courts. Perhaps rash statements, born from the desire to safeguard the budget and protect the tournament, also putting at risk all the people who have tickets that will not be able to see the tournament at a different venue and on a different date.