French Open delayed by a week in hope that more spectators can attend
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Paris (AFP) –
The French Open was on Thursday delayed by a week to May 30-June 13 in the hope that heightened Covid-19 restrictions in France will have eased by then to allow the maximum number of fans to attend the event.
The French tennis federation (FFT) said the decision had been made in the wake of French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement last month that "a schedule to progressively get cultural and sporting events back up and running would be set up from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation".
FFT president Gilles Moretton said the week's delay "will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros".
"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," Moretton added.
The qualifying rounds will now be held on May 24-28, followed by the main draw from May 30 to June 13.
Wimbledon, the next Grand Slam tournament after the French Open, said in a statement that the decision had no impact on its planned start date of June 28.
Ugo Valensi, executive director of the Grand Slam Board, added: "These remain extremely challenging times for communities around the world, and, while there is optimism for the future, it is clear that this pandemic is very much still with us.
"The Grand Slams represent the most significant spotlights for our sport and so we will do everything possible to ensure they can be staged successfully.
"Further to consultation, the decision by the FFT to postpone Roland-Garros by a week in order to enhance the likelihood of the tournament taking place successfully is therefore fully supported by the Grand Slam Board."
The FFT's decision was also given the green light by the ATP and WTA, governing bodies of men and women's professional tennis respectively.
"Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case," read a joint ATP/WTA statement.
"Both the WTA and @atptour are supportive of the decision and are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimize the calendar for players, tournaments and fans, in the lead up to and following Roland-Garros."
© 2021 AFP