What we know and don’t know about the potential postponement of Roland-Garros in 2021
This Tuesday, the Ministry of Sports told AFP that they were in contact with Roland-Garros about the 2021 edition. Discussions are underway between the two organizations concerning a possible postponement of a few days, and how to welcome spectators.
What we know:
Currently, Roland-Garros 2021 is still scheduled on the initial dates:
“For now, we are in the race, the tournament is planned on the scheduled date (May 23 to June 6),” said Gilles Moretton, the new president of the French Tennis Federation, at the end of March.
A postponement, of a week perhaps, is possible:
On Tuesday, AFP reported that the government was in contact with the Paris Major. “Discussions are underway with the organizers, said the Sports Ministry. A delay of a few days is being discussed.”
It is a question of welcoming spectators: Currently, one of the stated goals of Roland-Garros is to be able to open its doors to spectators. The Ministry of Sports links the question of dates to that “of the modalities of reception of the public.” If no closed session has been officially mentioned, the reduced capacity seems already put in place. At the end of March, Gilles Moretton specified that he “[did not imagine]” open stands at their maximum capacity.
The health situation in Paris is more serious than it was in October of 2020: Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland-Garros took place from September 27 to October 11. At present, in Paris, the situation is almost 2.5 times more serious than at the time of the 2020 edition with an incidence rate (number of positive cases per 100,000 people) of 610 on April 6 against 256 on September 20, 2020. More broadly, on September 27, 2020, France had an average of 12,115 new cases of coronavirus per day over the past week. This Monday, April 5, this figure was 39,797 new cases in 24 hours, on average, during the last seven days.
Professional sport has continued in France when the third confinement began: Professional championships, like football, rugby or even basketball, are authorized in France. Only the activity of amateurs is at a standstill and, with regard to competitions, suspended. Details of the measures taken by the Ministry of Sports following the latest announcements from the President of the Republic are available on sports.gouv.fr.
What we don’t know:
Who will decide? If the FFT and the Ministry of Sports are in discussion around the dates of the organization of Roland-Garros, no one specifies who will have the last word on this decision. Roland-Garros will in any case have to submit to the regulatory framework, as in 2020, when the spectator limitation was decreased from 20,000 to 1,000 just a few days before the start of the second confinement.
“Depending on the sanitary conditions, we will adjust to the directives which will be given to us by the government,” explained Bernard Giudicelli, former president of the FFT, in June 2020. “It is the government which decides the attendance and the maximum capacity. “
The decision to postpone the competition, on the other hand, seems to fall to the FFT, which did not need anyone in 2020 to postpone the event by four months.
What will happen to turf tournaments being played at the same time? If the main draw at Roland Garros were shifted by one week to be held from May 30 to June 13, they would encroach upon four tournaments marking the start of the grass season. Two ATP 250 and two WTA 250 scheduled for June 7 to 13.
- ATP 250, Stuttgart
- ATP 250, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
- Nottingham WTA 250
- WTA 250, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Knowing that the tournaments are linked every week until Wimbledon, a postponement seems to be difficult to envisage for these four events. And a game of dominoes seems quite improbable in view of a calendar articulated this summer around the Olympic Games from July 23, thirteen days after the Wimbledon final.
When will the decision be taken, and according to what criteria? No specific deadline has been mentioned as to the officialization of the fortnight in which the tournament will be scheduled, and the number of authorized spectators, in a country which has given itself until May 3 to regain control of the epidemic situation.
“If we are told of a general confinement for two months, we will necessarily have to take measures,” explained Gilles Moretton at the end of March. “The worst being the outright cancellation, but I dare not imagine that.”
Is there an alternative to the cancellation of Roland Garros if the pandemic does not abate? ATP tournaments are scheduled every week until the end of the season. The WTA has not yet officially announced its schedule after Wimbledon. Last year, Roland-Garros took place after the US Open. This year, the New York Major is scheduled to end on September 12. Two ATP 250 – Metz and Saint Petersburg – are scheduled from September 20 to 26. Next, Chengdu, Sofia and Zhuhai – also rated ATP 250 – are scheduled to take place from September 27 to October 3.
The Laver Cup, dear to Roger Federer, is planned for September 24, 25 and 26. And in this context, Indian Wells, scheduled for March, is seeking a place. The world of tennis, faced with a fait accompli, had ended up adapting in 2020. Nothing says that it will have as much consideration in 2021.