France’s delayed tennis Grand Slam may go ahead without fans and only be shown on TV.
FRENCH tennis chief Bernard Guidicelli says that the clay tournament Roland Garros, already controversially pushed back four months due to the Coronavirus, could end up being staged behind closed doors.
Guidicelli, who said the French Tennis Federation has “no regrets” over its decision to move the Grand Slam from May 24 – June 7 to September 20 – October 4, says all options remain on the table.
“We haven’t ruled out any option. Roland Garros is first and foremost a story of matches and players,” he said. “There is the tournament taking place in the stadium, and the tournament on TV screens.”
“Millions of viewers around the world are waiting. Organising it behind closed doors would allow part of the business model – television rights [which account for more than a third of the tournament’s revenues] – to go ahead. This cannot be overlooked.”
The spread of the coronavirus has halted all tennis since mid-March and will not resume until July 13 at the earliest. Almost 500,000 fans regularly attend Roland Garros annually. However, an indication of the thinking around the 2020 edition came on Thursday when the French federation decided to reimburse all tickets bought for the original date of the tournament rather than transfer them.
Guidicelli admitted that the start of the rescheduled French Open could even be pushed back a further week to begin on September 27 to allow a two-week break between the US Open and Roland Garros.