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Tennis News From France • French Open in Doubt as Covid Numbers Rise in Paris

By Alix Ramsay

The president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Gilles Moretton, has admitted that the French Open could be cancelled if the country’s current wave of Covid infections does not subside soon.

On Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, announced that he was extending the localised lockdown protocols; this was to be a national lockdown, the country’s third. People are to work from home, the whole country will be placed under curfew and nurseries and primary schools will be shut. All domestic travel will to be restricted. These new rules will last for a month at the very least and will start on Saturday.

Infection rates in France are amongst the highest in Europe with Paris being one of the hardest hit cities. Macron has been criticised for not imposing the national restrictions earlier and this week, he was forced to impose the new rules to prevent the country “losing control” of the virus.

If the lockdown only lasts for a month, it would leave the FFT with a little over two weeks before the start of the French Open (qualifying is due to start on May 17 and the main draw is supposed to begin on May 23). But no one is sure what will happen if the lockdown is extended.

“At the moment, we are on track, the tournament is on the scheduled dates,” Moretton told the Independent in London. “But if we are told to lock down for two months, we will have to take the necessary measures, the worst being the outright cancellation, but I dare not imagine that.”

At the moment, the FFT has several contingency plans in place. “We are studying a lot of options for Roland Garros 2021,” Moretton said. “There is a total range, or almost total because I dare not imagine a 100 per cent crowd level.

“But that can start from behind closed doors to a level that will not be 100 per cent. All the options with us are ready.”

Last year, the FFT managed to rearrange the dates of the Open, moving from their usual May-June slot to September-October. But even as the event went ahead – with 1,000 spectators allowed per day – the bars and restaurants in the capital were being shut due to rising infection rates. Nine months later, the situation is far worse and no one knows how long the crisis will last.