The French Open has been postponed until September due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French Tennis Federation confirmed on Tuesday.
The Paris clay-court tournament – one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events – was scheduled to take place from May 24 to June 7, but is now slated to run from September 20 to October 4, dates that could cause significant disruption to the sport’s calendar.
Wimbledon organisers say they “continue to plan” for the grass-court Grand Slam to go ahead, despite it being scheduled to start just three weeks after the original French Open final date.
“The whole world is affected by the public health crisis connected with COVID-19. In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020,” a statement from tournament organisers said.
“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.
“In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19.
Despite announcing the closure of the Wimbledon museum, shop, and community sports ground, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club insist that plans remain in place for the tournament to begin on June 29.
AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said: “At the heart of our decision-making is our commitment to the health and safety of our members, staff, and the public, and we are grateful to the government and public health authorities for their advice and support.
“While we continue to plan for The Championships at this time, it remains a continuously evolving situation and we will act responsibly, in the best interests of wider society.”
Meanwhile, the French Open’s new date could create further problems, with it scheduled to start just a week after the completion of the usual final major of the year, the US Open, which would leave players an abnormally short amount of time to change surfaces and time zones.
The proposed date also directly clashes with the Laver Cup, an annual men’s event, which Roger Federer was heavily involved in the creation of, that sees players from Europe take on a world team.
It remains unclear whether tournament organisers sought the approval of the ATP and WTA (elite men’s and women’s tours) before announcing the change of date.
The French Open announcement comes a day after the WTA suspended all tournaments until at least May 2. The ATP had previously announced a suspension up until the week of April 20.
Source: Sky Sports