French Open 2021 has been delayed by a week because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will start on May 30, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) reported on Thursday.
For the second year straight, the traditional French Open schedule is being disturbed by the Covid pandemic.
The clay-court Grand Slam tennis competition said Thursday it will push back the beginning of this present season’s event by one week due to surging virus cases 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 Moretton, the president of the French tennis federation. “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 clay-court Grand Slam, which was delayed by four months a year ago and occurred before restricted groups, will complete on June 13, two weeks before the expected beginning of Wimbledon.
The postponement is set to affect the ATP and WTA schedules, particularly on the grass-court season, with competitions scheduled to begin on June 7 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (WTA and ATP), Stuttgart (ATP), and Nottingham (WTA).
The French Open was scheduled to begin on May 23, however, first-round matches will presently get in progress on May 30.
A year ago’s competition was pushed back to September on account of the pandemic, with crowds restricted to 1,000 every day.
The defer will have a knock-on impact on the grass-court season, but not Wimbledon.
Tennis authorities extended the gap between the French Open final and the beginning of Wimbledon to three weeks in 2015, giving players additional time to become acclimated to the fastest surface in the game. But since of the delay declared Thursday, the season will be reduced to two weeks plus Wimbledon.
FFT president Gilles Moreton said it had decided after consulting with public authorities, the administering bodies of international tennis, and its partners and broadcasters.
It trusted the delay would allow them to invite a larger number of fans on the grounds than a year ago when just 1,000 were permitted at Roland Garros every day.
“All four Grand Slam tournaments are united in their view on the importance of a meaningful build-up to every Grand Slam … However, given the considerable challenges ahead of 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.
Wimbledon was canceled last year due to the pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis competition wasn’t played.
The transition to delay the French Open 2021 came as hospitals in the country approach immersion from virus cases. To slow down the speed of infections, new nationwide limitations have been authorized, including a three-week school closure, a month-long domestic travel boycott, and the end of unnecessary shops.
The French tennis federation said the decision was taken to augment risks the event will be played “in front of as many spectators as possible” in a protected environment.
Ugo Valensi, the executive director of the Grand Slam Board, said the association supports the postponement. Be that as it may, French tennis player Alize Cornet slammed Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu for the decision.
“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros,” Moreton said in a statement.
“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.”
The FFT had been vigorously reprimanded for delaying a year ago’s competition until the finish of September without talking with the elite men’s and women’s tours, who this time have been kept in the loop.
“Both the ATP and WTA 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,” the WTA and ATP said in a joint statement.
Last Saturday, France entered a third nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, with President Emmanuel Macron saying he was expecting to “reopen” the country around mid-May.
“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 it’s not an easy time for the tournament but we have to think about the players and the calendar.”
The current year’s Australian Open was postponed by three weeks due to the virus, and quarantine limitations influenced the preparations of a few players.