“I am actually happy with Novak Djokovic. He has shown that it really cannot be done just like that.” That casual remark is not about the tennis qualities of the world’s number one in the world, but about the corona infections in the Adria Tour that he organized.
A remarkable statement for an energetic and ambitious tournament organizer, who has just proudly announced the first major sporting event in the Netherlands since the corona outbreak.
King of the Court, an innovative tournament for beach volleyball players, must become the first major sporting event on Dutch soil since the corona crisis. The world summit will gather on the Jaarbeursplein in Utrecht from 9 to 12 September.
“The athletes are really waiting for this,” says Wilco Nijland, creator and organizer of the beach volleyball tournament. “We are the first tournament, all top players have not been able to play. If they can fly, they are there.”
Nijland is following the relaxation of travel restrictions with great interest. Because without the lifting of the travel ban, the commitment of the Americans Gibb / Crabb, the Brazilians Bruno / Evandro or the Norwegian leaders of the world ranking Mol / Sorum is worth little.
And that is just one consequence of the one and a half meter society. Another is that 30,000 spectators are not welcome during the weekend, but only 425 per session. “We are really corona proof. We are building a stadium, where everyone has their own skybox. You can use it with family and friends, the people with whom you can live within a meter and a half, watch beach volleyball. “
Visitors will find their drink in the skybox on arrival, if you want to buy a shirt or cap, it will be brought to you and orders during the duels are made via an app. “Nobody has to walk,” says Nijland. “Only those who have to use the toilet, but there is only a walking route for that.”
In addition, all visitors will be questioned and registered and will receive a check email afterwards. Everything to avoid contamination.
Dutch top players do not play together
All players will also undergo a corona test two weeks before the tournament, whoever has traveled will be tested again. Even then, much remains uncertain.
The participation of the Dutch world top players Alexander Brouwer, Robert Meeuwsen, Sanne Keizer, Madelein Meppelink and Christiaan Varenhorst seems certain.
Normally an opportunity for Brouwer / Meeuwsen and Keizer / Meppelink to finally play together again. But no. As an experiment, the organization separates the fixed duos.
Still, the eagerness of it is reflected in Keizer, who became European champion in 2018 with Madelein Meppelink in her own country. “Of course it is not cool, lately,” said Keizer. “We are a fast growing sport, which can quickly bite. And I think 400 people in a skybox can create as much atmosphere as a thousand people in the stands.”
The alternative rules of the game appeal to Keizer. “I am really looking forward to it,” says Sanne Keizer, “It is such a very dynamic game. You don’t have time to do your hair well, brush your glasses or argue with the referee. can switch is the winner. “
Nothing leaves Nijland to chance to make his tournament a success. His ambitions therefore extend beyond September. In 2022 and 2023, King of the Court should become an additional tournament on the WorldTour. And in 2024 or 2028 it could be an Olympic part.
“The IOC would like to appeal to a younger audience, wants to do more ‘urban’ sports and to award more medals with fewer athletes,” says Nijland, who is supported by the international volleyball association FIVB. “I think athletes like that, winning medals.”
“Cool, I hope it will work. I think the whole world is behind this plan. I will be there in 2024,” confirms the 35-year-old Emperor. “And in 2028 … well … who knows.”