Cornet fears for French Open after 'too many fans' at Strasbourg event

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) –

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French tennis player Alize Cornet on Sunday told AFP of her coronavirus fears for Roland Garros after lamenting the presence of "too many" fans at the WTA event in Strasbourg.

The rescheduled French Open later this month will be limited to 5,000 spectators daily, a reduction from the initial 11,500 announced by the tournament's organisers.

The Strasbourg event is the last warm-up before the clay court Grand Slam, which runs from September 27 to October 11, and is welcoming 2,500 fans to its 10-hectare site -- half the usual number.

"Here in Strasbourg there are too many fans... The fact that there is a crowd in the stands is not necessarily bad but these people are in the walkways with us, they ask for a lot of photos and autographs from the players and it's hard to refuse," Cornet said.

"We are locked in a hotel, we are prevented from going out, we take the health protocol really seriously, but we meet people who are there en masse and who do not respect social distancing at all.

"What I want is that things are done better at Roland Garros because there will be more fans and more players so more risk."

The Strasbourg tournament director Denis Naegelen shot back at Cornet's criticism, claiming the event was following a 66-page health protocol "written after dozens of hours of meetings with the Regional Health Agency, the French Tennis Federation and the WTA's security team".

"There is no bubble here. The WTA has asked each player to behave responsibly, to stay in the protected areas that are allotted to the players. Neither fans or people from the organisation can be in direct contact with the players," insisted Naegelen to AFP.

"Everything is done so that the players do not meet the public or journalists... We have doubled security, tripled cleaning so that all rooms, courts and the seats be sanitised hourly."

Later on Sunday, Roland Garros organisers announced two players due to take part in the qualifying tournament had tested positive for Covid-19, while another three had been in "close contact with a coach who has tested positive" for the virus.

None of the five players will take part in qualifying, which begins on Monday.