Spectators will be allowed at the French Open this month despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country, organizers said on Monday.
Organizers unveiled the health protocols for the clay-court Grand Slam, which will take place at Roland Garros in western Paris on Sept. 27, after being postponed from its May start owing to the pandemic.
“Since the international circuit restarted, Roland Garros will be the first tournament with the privilege of hosting an audience,” French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said.
In accordance with the latest government guidelines capping attendance to 5,000 people in regions such as Paris, the federation has scaled down its plans.
The federation wanted to welcome 50-per-cent to 60-per-cent capacity, the equivalent of about 20,000 fans a day. Instead, Roland Garros will be divided into three zones based on the three main courts, with 5,000 people each for the Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen courts. The zone surrounding the third biggest court will host a maximum of 1,500 spectators a day.
Wearing a mask on-site will be mandatory, while all accredited people at the tournament will have to pass virus tests to be admitted in the Roland Garros bubble.
Tournament director Guy Forget said all players will be tested upon their arrival in the French capital city. They will be authorized to play if they return a negative test and will undergo a second test 72 hours later. Players will then be tested every five days as long as they remain in the draw, and will have to stay in the two hotels booked by organizers.
French officials have confirmed more than 30,000 deaths from COVID-19, while the number of new daily cases surpassed 8,000 last Friday.