Sports

Tennis: Roland Garros could be behind closed doors, says French tennis boss

PARIS: French tennis chief Bernard Guidicelli admitted on Sunday (May 9) that Roland Garros, already controversially pushed back four months due to the coronavirus, could be staged behind closed doors.

Guidicelli, who said that the French federation (FFT) had "no regrets" over its unilateral decision to move the clay court Grand Slam from May 24-Jun 7 to Sep 20-Oct 4, insisted all options remain on the table.

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"We haven't ruled out any option. Roland Garros is first and foremost a story of matches and players," he told the Journal du Dimanche.

"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 Jul 13 at the earliest.

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Wimbledon has already been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War.

The US Open, due to take place in New York from Aug 31-Sept 13, is also in question with a decision expected in mid-June.

Close to 500,000 fans regularly attend Roland Garros every year.

However, an indication as to the thinking around the 2020 edition came on Thursday when the FFT 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 Sep 27.

That would allow a two-week break between the US Open and Roland Garros.

"I have regular discussions with Andrea Gaudenzi (president of the ATP), Steve Simon (president of the WTA) and David Haggerty (head of the ITF) and another call is planned next week to see how we have progressed.

"We are working well together, but it is still a bit early to precisely determine the schedule."

Guidicelli is adamant that the FFT was rRead More – Source