This year’s French Open tennis tournament has been postponed by a week due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced on Thursday.
The second grand slam of the year was originally scheduled to take place from Monday 17 May to Sunday 6 June.
However, France has recently entered a new lockdown with a series new national restrictions in place as the country fights rising coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the French Health Ministry reported the number of people in intensive care units (ICU) with Covid-19 in France reached a new 2021 record of 5,729.
The last time France saw a higher number of patients in ICUs was nearly a year ago on April 19, 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic.
In a speech on 31 March, French President Emmauel Macron said he hoped cultural and sporting events would be back up and running from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation.
“In this context, it appeared that postponing the tournament by one week would be the best solution,” the FFT said in a statement
The qualifying rounds for the clay court event will now be held from Monday 24 to Friday 28 May and will be followed by the main draw, from Sunday 30 May to Sunday 13 June.
“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros into our newly-transformed stadium,” FFT President Gilles Moretton added.
“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 2020 edition of the tournament was postponed by four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and eventually took place at the end of September in front of limited crowds.
“Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case,” the ATP and WTA said in a joint statement.
“The decision to delay the start of Roland-Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID-19 restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.
“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. Further updates will be communicated in due course.”
Rafael Nadal sealed his record-extending 13th men’s singles title in 2020, while Polish teenager Iga Swiatek won her first Grand Slam title.
According to John Hopkins University, France has now recorded 4,807,123 cases and 96,672 deaths.