PARIS (AP) – For the, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the traditional French Open schedule. The clay-court Grand Slam tennis tournament said Thursday it would push back the start of this season’s event by one week because of in France.
“This postponement will give us a little more time to improve the health situation and should allow us to optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros,” said Gilles Moreton, the French tennis federation president. “Whether for the fans, the players, or the atmosphere, crowd presence is essential to the tournament, the first international sporting event of the spring.” The French Open was scheduled to start on May 23, but first-round matches will begin on May 30. Last year’s, with crowds limited to 1,000 per day.
The delay will knock on the grass-court season, but not Wimbledon.
Tennis authorities lengthened the gap between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon to three weeks in 2015, giving players extra time to get used to the fastest surface in the game. But because of the Thursday, the season will be reduced to two weeks plus Wimbledon.
“All four Grand Slam tournaments are united in their view on the importance of a significant build-up to every Grand Slam … Wimbledon was canceled last year because of the pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament wasn’t played. However, given the considerableof the FFT in staging Roland Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass-court season will be reduced by one week in 2021,” the Grand Slam board said in a statement.
The move to delay this year’s French Open came as hospitals in the country approach saturation from virus cases. New nationwide restrictions have been enforced to slow the pace of infections, including a three-week school closure, a month-long domestic , and the closing of non-essential shops.
The French tennis federation said the decision was taken to maximize the chances the event will be played “in front of as many spectators as possible” in a safe environment.
Ugo Valensi, the executive director of the Grand Slam board, said the organization supports the delay. But French tennis player Alize Cornet slammed.
“Our sports minister is a disaster,” Cornet said, speaking to Tennis Channel. “It’s a pretty selfish decision, to be honest. Because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement, I understand for the tournament, but we must consider the players and the calendar.”
This year’swas delayed by three weeks because of the virus, and quarantine restrictions affected the preparations of several players.
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