Postponing the French Open for a week, from May 24 to June 13, turned out to be a good bet. Roland-Garros will now be able to accommodate a significantly larger audience in the last five days of the tennis tournament than initially expected, following the French government’s announcement of its plan to gradually suspend the Covid-19 blockade measures.
The Spring Grand Slam will be able to receive three times fewer spectators than usual, but five times more than last year. The final matches of the 2021 French Open, scheduled for June 12 (female) and June 13 (male), are expected to take place for 5,000 fans, according to the schedule of lifting restrictions announced by the French government on Thursday. .
For the French Tennis Federation (FFT), its April 8 decision to postpone the tournament for a week was worth it. If the tournament ended on June 6, as originally planned, the number of spectators would be significantly less. On June 9, France will enter “Phase 3” of the blockade suspension measures, when gyms will reopen and sports arenas will be allowed up to 5,000 spectators with passes showing they have tested negative for Covid-19 or been vaccinated.
“I am delighted that discussions with public authorities, governing bodies of international tennis, our partners and broadcasters, and the work in progress with WTA and ATP, have allowed us to postpone the Roland-Garros 2021 tournament for a week. I thank them for that, ”said Gilles Moretton, president of the FFT, in a statement on the Roland-Garros website.
“This will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimize our chances of receiving spectators at Roland-Garros at our newly transformed stadium, which now covers more than 30 acres. For the fans, the players and the environment, the presence of the spectators is vital for our tournament, the most important international sporting event of the spring ”, he said.
According to the government’s schedule, Roland-Garros will be able to allow 1,000 spectators per day for the tournament to start, and then five times that number in the last five days.
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Another good news for the tournament is the postponement of the evening curfew from 7 pm to 9 pm from May 19, allowing fans to continue if the games last until the early evening.
And the reopening of restaurants and cafes for terraces, with up to six people per table, will give an extra boost to the event organizers, who will be able to receive their VIP guests under almost normal conditions.
In what may turn out to be even better news for tennis lovers and tournament organizers, the French sports daily L’Équipe reported on Friday that the city of Paris is considering making Roland-Garros a test event for the authorize 12,500 spectators per day, including 5,000 in the Philippe-Chatrier central court alone (the total capacity of the court in normal times is almost 15,000 seats), and by granting a special curfew exemption for night games.
There was no official statement by the FFT about this possibility, besides saying on its website that “it would continue to work with the French administration to establish the most appropriate public health and safety conditions for the organization of the tournament. These health and safety protocols will be announced later ”.