Paris — For the second year in a row, the traditional French Open schedule has been disrupted by a coronavirus pandemic.
Clay Court’s Grand Slam Tennis Tournament announced Thursday that a surge in virus cases in France will delay the start of this season’s event by a week.
“This postponement should give us a little more time to improve our health and optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros,” said Jill Moreton, president of the French Tennis Federation. “Audience is essential for the tournament, the first international sporting event in spring, for fans, players and atmosphere.”
The French Open was scheduled to start on May 23, but the first round of the match will start on May 30.
Last year’s tournament was postponed to September due to a pandemic, limiting the number of spectators to 1,000 per day.
Delays have a knock-on effect during the grass court season, but do not affect Wimbledon.
Tennis officials extended 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 of the game. However, due to the delay announced Thursday, the season will be shortened to two weeks and Wimbledon.
“All four Grand Slam tournaments agree on the importance of build-up that is meaningful to all Grand Slams … but given the considerable challenges before the FFT in Roland Garros’ staging, the rest In the calendar, the grass court season will be shortened by one week in 2021 to avoid further impact on that part, “the Grand Slam Commission said in a statement.
Wimbledon was canceled last year due to a pandemic where the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament has not been held since World War II.
The move to postpone the French Open this year came as hospitals in the country approached saturation with viral cases. New national restrictions have been enforced, including a three-week school closure, a one-month ban on domestic travel, and non-essential store closures.
The French Tennis Federation said the decision was made to maximize the likelihood that the event would take place “in front of as many spectators as possible” in a safe environment.
Ugo Valensi, Secretary-General of the Grand Slam Board, said the organization supported the delay. However, French tennis player Alizé Cornet has accused sports minister Roxana Malacineanu.
“Our sports minister is a disaster,” Cornet told the tennis channel. “To be honest, it’s a pretty selfish decision, because the calendar will suffer from this postponement. I understand it’s not an easy time for a tournament, but I have to think about the players and the calendar. . “
This year’s Australian Open was delayed by a virus by three weeks, and quarantine restrictions affected the preparation of several players.