The El Gouna International Squash Open that starts in Egypt tomorrow will feature new levels of COVID-19 testing ©PSA

The El Gouna International Squash Open that is due start  in Egypt tomorrow will be a vital indicator for the three big events that will conclude the season - and will also represent another new step in the battle to keep elite sport happening during the COVID pandemic.

This Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series Platinum event at Abu Tig Marina will feature a new reliance on rapid antigen, or lateral flow, testing to ensure to ensure the “bubble” in which all involved will be staying remains free from infection.

As usual for PSA events, a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is required before arrival in Egypt, with a further one required to enter the event bubble.

But after this rapid antigen testing will be used as an additional safety measure through a new arrangement with MEDsan UK, which can produce results within 20 minutes.

Tim Garner, event director of the PSA, said: "Conducting rapid antigen tests at the events are a crucial measure to ensuring our competition can continue safely.

"It is important to pick up any infections as quickly as possible to keep the bubble secure and rapid antigen testing gives us immediate assurances that the players and those in the event bubble have not contracted coronavirus and are safe to participate in the competition."

In addition to the testing protocol, the PSA is following a range of coronavirus countermeasures, including keeping the event bubble separated and distanced from those outside, both at venues and hotels, for the duration of the competition.

There have already been numerous withdrawals because of coronavirus restriction measures from an event which is scheduled to end on May 28 and precedes the World Tour Finals, PSA World Championships and British Open.

Yesterday England’s James Willstrop and Julianne Courtice pulled out, as did Mathieu Castagnet of France.

The day before England’s Richie Fallows announced he would not be travelling because of increased travel restrictions, as did Malaysia’s quartet of Low Wee Wern, Rachel Arnold, Aifa Azman and Ivan Yuen.

Men’s world number one Ali Farag is unable to take part in this event on home soil because of a family commitment.

His compatriots Mohamed ElShorbagy, the top seed, Marwan ElShorbagy, Fares Dessouky and world champion Tarek Momen are all in the draw, as is the New Zealander Momen beat in the world final, Paul Coll.

In the women’s draw home player Nour El Sherbini, the world champion, is top seed, with compatriot Nouran Gohar seeded second.