Sun, 12 Jul 2020

Roland Garros planning for fans not empty seats

28 May 2020, 04:12 GMT+10

Roland Garros chiefs insisted on Wednesday the French Open, delayed until September due to the coronavirus pandemic, will have fans attending even if they still have to abide by social distancing rules.

"In the autumn, we will play Roland Garros with an optimum spectator capacity which allows fans to respect social distancing," Jean-Francois Vilotte, the director-general of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), told AFP.

For the players, "the prize money is very important" as is the eco-system of tennis in France for which Roland Garros accounts for 80% of revenue.

"It will be an exceptional tournament anyway," he said, adding the organisation was working on holding a "postponed tournament" and not a "downgraded" version.

The US Open in New York, due to start on August 24, is still under a cloud with organisers due to decide its fate in mid-June.

"The point is not to schedule matches late at night but to finish the matches started," said Vilotte, pointing out that night sessions will not start until the 2021 edition when the tournament slips back into its usual May-June home.

"From the start, the objective was to respect the outdoor nature of the tournament," said Vilotte.

It can cover the sport's most famous clay court in 15 minutes, while allowing air to pass through the sides.

The Suzanne Lenglen court will also have a roof installed in time for the 2024 Olympic Games.

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