The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Lapierre: ‘News from Roge … I mean, the National Bank Open presented by Rogers’

April 1, 2021

You’ve been asking for news about our tournament here in Montréal, and the title of this communication is certainly a nod to our event and the recent announcement that two loyal business partners will remain with us over the long term, but with their roles reversed. Rogers Cup presented by National Bank is now the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. It goes without saying that this is excellent news for the future of our tournament and even more so for the future of our sport in Canada, since both our partners fully understand Tennis Canada’s development mission and are committed to supporting a range of initiatives all year round.

I cannot encourage you enough to get the new name down pat by this summer: National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Easy-peasy. All of us here in the office have already mastered it. National Bank Open … NBO … There is No Better Open than the National Bank Open presented by Rogers! 

Photo: Jared Wickerham/Tennis Canada

Will there even be a National Bank Open this summer?

That’s the first big question. If it were up to me, I would say yes, but there are no guarantees. Most importantly, our priority in these pandemic times is the health and safety of Montrealers, Quebecers and all Canadians. We absolutely do not want an influx of 400 people from around the globe (players and their entourages, officials, WTA representatives, TV technicians, etc.) to trigger an outbreak of the virus. 

We have therefore submitted an extremely robust protocol to public health officials at all three levels of government to ensure our guests are never in contact with locals. The plan outlines measures including an event bubble, safe accommodation and transportation services for players and staff, strategies for getting around the IGA Stadium site, quarantine and confinement procedures, screening tests and more.

In sum, we’ve drafted extensive and detailed documents in order to be able to host a safe and exemplary tournament, and I feel optimistic that medical authorities will endorse them. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

People cheering at the Rogers Cup
Photo: Penguin

If there is a tournament, will there be fans in the stands?

That’s the second question we’ll ask ourselves if the governments agree to our protocol to safely host athletes and visitors from around the world in Montréal. Again, I would say yes. I could be wrong, but I truly believe that Québec’s headlining outdoor summer events could be held with some spectators in attendance. However, regardless of who’s in the stands, our top priority will always be the health and safety of fans.

I know what you’re thinking: that I’m a great optimist. Perhaps. A news outlet once said that my breakfast cereal of choice had to be Froot Loops. In any case, it doesn’t matter all that much, since we must prepare for every possibility. My outstanding colleagues have had their heads spinning with all sorts of scenarios.

That said, whatever strategies we develop must be adaptable above all. What’s more, we must be ready to revise them at any time to lower (or increase, as we hope to be able to do) the number of people in attendance.

In conclusion

As I write these lines, there’s no telling how the National Bank Open presented by Rogers will go. There are still so many unknowns. It seems we’re currently riding the third wave, which raises a lot of questions. How long will it last? How serious will it be? Will we reach our immunization targets and how will they influence our reopening this summer?

Right now, there’s only one answer to all these questions: patience. 

As for me, at the risk of repeating myself, I will be patiently optimistic. I’m confident we’ll get to see the world’s best in women’s tennis at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers at IGA Stadium this August, including our very own Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Fernandez and Eugenie Bouchard, who are definitely ones to watch this season.

I’m also optimistic that a good number of fans will be supporting their favourites from the stands.

That’s what we’re all cheering for.

Eugène Lapierre