For the second year in a row, the traditional French Open calendar has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic. The clay court Grand Slam tournament will be postponed one week due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Thursday.
“This postponement will give us a little more time to improve the health situation and should allow us to optimize our chances of receiving spectators at Roland Garros”said Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). “Whether for the fans, the players or the atmosphere, the presence of the public is essential for the tournament, the first international sports tournament of the spring.”
The Grand Slam brick dust tournament was scheduled to begin on May 23, but now the first-round matches will begin on March 30. The French tennis federation said the decision had been made to maximize the chances of playing the event “In front of as many fans as possible” safely.
Last year’s tournament was postponed to September due to the health crisis, with the audience limited to 1,000 people a day.
The delay will affect turf tournament season, but not Wimbledon. There will be barely two weeks of separation now between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, scheduled between June 28 and July 11.
Tennis authorities extended the time between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon to three weeks in 2005, giving him extra time to adjust to the faster surface of the sport.
“All four Grand Slam tournaments share the view of having a significant preparation period prior to each Grand Slam … However, given the considerable challenges faced by the FFT in conducting Roland Garros, and in avoiding an impact In addition to the rest of the calendar, the grass season will be shortened by one week in 2021 ”, the Grand Slam board said in a statement.
Wimbledon was canceled last year because of the pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam event could not be contested.
The decision to delay the start of Roland Garros comes at a time when French hospitals are almost saturated with coronavirus cases. To contain the contagions, the government imposed new restrictions at the national level, including the closure of schools for three weeks, the prohibition of internal travel for a month and the closure of non-essential businesses.
The French tennis federation said the decision was made to safely maximize the public presence at the tournament.
Ugo Valensi, the executive director of the Grand Slam board, backed the delay. But French tennis player Alize Cornet lashed out at Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu for the decision
“Our Sports Minister is a disaster,” said Cornet, interviewed by the Tennis Channel in the United States. “It’s a very selfish decision, to be honest. The calendar is going to suffer with this postponement. I understand that it is a difficult situation for the tournament, but we have to think about the players and the calendar ”.
This year’s Australian Open got underway with a three-week delay due to the virus, and the quarantines that had to be followed affected the preparation of several players.