FRENCH OPEN TO START A WEEK LATER ON MAY 30 AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

FRENCH OPEN TO START A WEEK LATER ON MAY 30 AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
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This year’s French Open tennis tournament has been postponed by a week due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will begin on May 30, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said on Thursday (April 8).

The second Grand Slam of the season, which last year was postponed by four months  to the autumn and took place in front of limited crowds, was due to start this year on May 23.

This year’s edition of the clay-court Grand Slam will finish on June 13, two weeks before the expected start of Wimbledon.

The postponement is set to have an impact on the men’s and women’s tour calendars, especially on the grass-court season with tournaments scheduled to start on June 7 in Den Bosch (ATP and WTA), Stuttgart (ATP) and Nottingham (WTA).

FFT president Gilles Moreton said it had made the decision after consulting the public authorities, the governing bodies of international tennis, and its partners and broadcasters.

It hoped the delay would let them welcome more fans on the grounds than last year, when only 1,000 were allowed into Roland Garros every day.

“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros…,” he added.

“For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event.”

The FFT had been heavily criticised for postponing last year’s tournament until the end of September without consulting the elite men’s and women’s tours, which this time have been kept in the loop.

“Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimise the calendar for players, tournaments, and fans, in the lead up to and following Roland-Garros,” the WTA and ATP said in a joint statement.

France last Saturday entered a third nationwide lockdown  to contain the spread of the coronavirus, with President Emmanuel Macron saying he was hoping to “re-open” the country around mid-May.

-Reuters

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