CHENNAI, INDIA, 31 December 2004 – Tournament organizers of the Chennai Open have joined with the ATP to commit financial support to relief efforts benefiting victims of the tsunami which has devastated Southern Asia. The ATP, governing body of the international men’s professional tennis circuit, will donate the $25,000 sanction fee for the tournament and direct it in full to UNICEF emergency relief efforts in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, of which Chennai is the capital.
Additionally, ATP stars Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, the three top-ranked players in the world who between them have held the year-end World No. 1 ranking the past four years, will auction autographed racquets next week with proceeds directly benefiting the UNICEF relief effort. Information on the auction can be found next week at ATPtennis.com.
Players participating in the Chennai Open held January 3-9 also have pledged their support to the efforts. Jonas Bjorkman and Mahesh Bhupathi, who will be the top-seeded doubles team at the Chennai Open, will donate prize money to the relief effort and also will encourage other players to directly support the tsunami relief efforts.
"We have all witnessed unimaginable scenes from South Asia the last few days,” Bjorkman said. “The horrific tragedy that has followed the earthquake at sea last Sunday is impossible to fully comprehend or put into words. But it is possible to act. Everybody who can should do whatever they can to support the victims of the tragedy. Help will be needed for a long time to come.
“As tennis players, we can support India and the surrounding area in the way that we play the tournament in Chennai as planned. And more so. The tournament in Chennai and ATP have decided to raise money for the victims of the catastrophe, and so have the players. Mahesh Bhupathi and I will donate prize money, and I am right now trying to reach the other players in Chennai to follow our example in a way that they feel is appropriate. As soon as we all come together in Chennai, we will decide how to move forward. This is an act of deeply felt sympathy and the least that we can do.”
UNICEF is providing three million water purification tablets, 1,500 community water tanks, 1,000 kilograms of bleaching powder, 50,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, 38,000 light blankets and 10,000 light sheets in Tamil Nadu. A 24-hour UNICEF emergency operation is underway in Tamil Nadu, the most affected state in India.
ATP CEO Mark Miles said: “On behalf of the ATP family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the victims of this tragedy. Through our tournaments and players, we have a deep connection with Asia. We hope that our activities and support via UNICEF relief efforts provide some help during this trying time.”
IMG India Managing Director and Tournament Organizer Ravi Krishnan said: “It was a difficult decision to continue with the tournament given the grief that has gripped our city and the Asian region. But the people of Chennai have always been very proud of the tournament and I hope that the event will be a small comfort to them during this distressing time. The tournament, sponsors, players and ATP are also determined to take the opportunity to raise funds for the relief effort.”
Additional activities in support of the relief effort will be conducted during next week’s Chennai Open.
The ATP also is working with Tennis Australia, the WTA Tour and the ITF to implement additional support for the UNICEF emergency relief effort at other pro tennis tournaments in January, including the Australian Open. ATP events in Adelaide and Sydney will join the other January Australian events in inviting UNICEF volunteers to collect on-site donations from tennis fans. The ‘Gold Coin Days’ program will directly support UNICEF’s tsunami relief effort. Additionally, a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) television spot produced by UNICEF to raise funds for the cause will be shown on tennis television broadcasters in the weeks and months ahead.
Said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy: “Hundreds of thousands of people fought to survive the tsunamis, and now we need to help them survive the aftermath. The first few weeks are critical, particularly for children, so we are pleased that our developing relationship with ATP has provided some immediate benefit to a grieving nation. We greatly appreciate the support of the players, tournaments and ATP.”
For more information, please contact:
ATP Europe: Nicola Arzani, email@example.com, +377-9797-0404
ATP Mundo Latino: Benito Perez-Barbadillo, firstname.lastname@example.org, +377-9707-0404
ATP Americas: Greg Sharko, email@example.com, +1-904/285-8000
ATP International Group: Iggy Jovanovic, firstname.lastname@example.org, +61-2-9250-2300
UNICEF: Kate Donovan, email@example.com, +1-212-326-7452
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