The French Open might not go ahead as planned in September as planned after the Sports Minister laid down a huge condition.
French sport minister Roxana Maracineanu said sporting events like the French Open and Tour de France would only be played if the situation improves dramatically. And by dramatically, Maracineanu means it should have improved enough for fans to be allowed entry too.
Earlier, the government had given permission to hold the Tour de France without spectators but that allowance has now been removed.
In what could be a blow to French Open’s plans to organise the competition behind closed doors as a last-ditch effort to get the tournament underway, Maracineanu said:
“These two events require spectators – for the box office at Roland Garros, for joy and excitement at the Tour de France. They will only be held if there is authorisation for the public to be there. They will not be held behind closed doors.”
The French Open was to be held in the final week of May but the coronavirus pandemic forced them to change the dates to one week after the US Open ends in September.
There were rumours the French Open could be postponed further by a week to accommodate other tennis tournaments after the US Open but with this new development, they might need to adopt a wait-and-watch policy.
The first exhibition tennis tournament after the pandemic was announced in March began on May 1 in Rhineland-Palatinate with eight players, ranked outside the top 100, taking part in it.
Stringent efforts have been taken to maintain social distancing norms even while playing these matches which have been played to an empty stadium. It remains to be seen if many other such tournaments will follow suit and playing behind closed doors would become a norm till a vaccine is found.