French Open onlookers’ limit set at 11,500


French Open update September 2020 Image: Roland Garros

Taking into view the COVID-19 situation, attendance at this year’s French Open has been capped at 11,500 per day as more details centering the holding of the Grand Slam tennis tournament were announced recently.

The French Open, also called Roland-Garros, is a major tennis tournament held over two weeks at the Stade Roland-Garros (a complex of tennis courts) in Paris, France, beginning in late May each year. This year it will be held from September 21st, 2020 to October 11th, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak world over.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has informed that the Roland-Garros complex will be split into three sites, each of which will include a show court and surrounding outside courts. Capacity at the Philippe-Chatrier and Suzanne-Lenglen sites will be pegged at 5,000 spectators, while attendance for the Simonne-Mathieu site has been capped at 1,500.

The French Tennis Federation is the governing body for tennis in France. It was founded in 1920, and is tasked with the organization, coordination and promotion of the sport. It is recognized by the International Tennis Federation and by the French Minister for Sports.

Strict COVID-19 rules are in place as per which onlookers will only be able to access the area of the stadium shown on their ticket and will be allowed to watch matches on all of the courts within their site. On the show courts, one seat will be left empty on every row and between every group of ticket-holders, which will be restricted to a maximum of four people.

No ‘outside court’ tickets will be sold for the tennis spectacle and the qualifying rounds will be held sans fans. Tickets purchased for the qualifying rounds and outside courts, as well as some for the three show courts, have been canceled and refunded and the FFT will offer these fans a one-off price on any tickets still available.

Masks have been made must for fans above the age bracket of 11, and one must wear it at all times. Extensive cleaning and disinfecting of the Roland-Garros sites will be carried out by the FFT, with hand sanitizer stations to be set up at various spots around the complex.

Back in March, the FFT said revamp of the Roland Garros site – which includes setting up a roof on the main Court Philippe-Chatrier – had facilitated the Grand Slam event to be rescheduled to autumn.

In July, the FFT announced plans to ensure a spectator capacity of 50 percent to 60 percent at the French Open, which would have made way for around 20,000 fans per day attending the event during the early stages of the tournament. The plans announced recently will see a smaller number of fans than had previously been thought of. Of late, France has again seen resurgence in COVID-19 cases, a country which has also been hit hard by the deadly disease.

Noted Jean-François Vilotte, Director General, FFT, “The FFT has a responsibility to protect the health of anyone involved in the tournament: It has a responsibility to international tennis to organize this major tournament and it also has a responsibility to society.”

“What we want people to see is that it is possible to enjoy sport, socialize and interact with other people while respecting strict health and hygiene guidelines. We want our tournament to be truly remarkable and to set an example, from all angles,” added the FFT top official.

“By setting an example with our tournament, we hope to prove that we can get the economy back on track, though it goes without saying that certain conditions and certain restrictions must be respected,” Vilotte added.

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