‘A disaster’: Coronavirus causes tennis chaos as French Open delayed
The 2021 French Open tennis tournament will be delayed by one week, a source close to the organisers said.
The clay-court grand slam event was set to begin on May 23, but will now get underway on May 30 in the hope of more fans being able to attend at Roland Garros.
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Last year’s French Open was delayed by four months and held in September and October instead of its longstanding May-June slot. Crowds were limited to just 1000 spectators each day.
Coronavirus restrictions were tightened across France last Wednesday although all professional sport is carrying on, albeit behind closed doors. President Emmanuel Macron has expressed a wish to re-open cinemas, museums and theatres in mid-May.
On Tuesday, the French sports ministry told AFP the government was discussing a possible delay of “a few days”.
Last month, Gilles Moretton, the new president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), said he “dared not” consider an outright cancellation.
“If we go into total lockdown for two months, we will obviously need to take measures — the worst being the outright cancellation, but I dare not imagine that,” he said.
French tennis star Alize Cornet was upset when she found out about the delay during an interview on live TV.
“No,” she said as she threw her head back in despair. “Oh, God.
“Our sport minister is a disaster. I’m sorry, I have nothing against her, but she only takes bad decisions for sport, it’s like she doesn’t care. I know it comes from the government, I’m pretty sure.
“It might come also from the tournament because I heard they may have more people (spectators) if they postpone for one week but still it’s a pretty selfish decision to be honest, because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement.
“I understand it’s not an easy time for the tournament, but we have to think about the players and the calendar and all the tournaments, they have to try to fit in this calendar. I don’t know how that’s going to be after that (postponement).”
Organisers are desperate for as many fans to attend as possible.Source:Getty Images
Rafael Nadal will defend his title after winning a record-extending 13th French Open last year, while Iga Swiatek of Poland is the reigning women’s champion.
Last season, the professional tours were suspended from March until August, with Wimbledon cancelled.
This year’s Australian Open was postponed by three weeks, although Wimbledon is still scheduled to take place in its usual slot, starting on June 28.
The new French Open dates should not significantly affect the grass-court season, although the initial Wimbledon warm-up events start on June 7, midway through Roland Garros.
There will now only be a two-week break between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon.
Rafa will be hunting another French Open crown.Source:AFP
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