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Will Roland-Garros make the same mistakes as the Adria Tour? – Match Points excerpt

Match Points is a talk show about tennis, hosted by Josh Cohen for Tennis Majors. In this episode, Josh asks the panel if Roland-Garros, in trying to welcome up to 60 percent of fans to this year’s event, risks making the same mistake as the ill-fated Adria Tour.

July 20, 2020
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Our Match Points panel consists of former Wimbledon champion and world No. 7 Marion Bartoli, ATP world No. 225 Noah Rubin (founder of Behind the Racquet), and American journalist Ben Rothenberg.

As France continues to see its coronavirus numbers dwindle, Roland-Garros is hoping to allow in up to 60 percent of the usual number of fans into the grounds for this year’s rescheduled event, set to begin on September 27.

But is that wise? In episode #8 of Match Points, host Josh Cohen asked our guests whether Roland-Garros risks repeating the same mistakes as the Adria Tour, where several players, including world No 1 Novak Djokovic, tested positive for Covid-19.

Bartoli revealed that she will be doing the on-court interviews at Roland-Garros and is confident that the extensive rules they are putting in place will work.

“The Federation is putting a lot of restrictions,” she said. “There will be no close contact between the player and the crowd whatsoever, no autographs, the first row of courts will not be accessible. In France we’re almost back to normal; as it stands right now, the situation is really under control. We are close to negating the virus. Is it going to stay that way? Is it going to bounce back, it’s impossible to predict.”


“That could end up being a disaster”

Rubin said he thinks Roland-Garros is risking too much.

“I kind of laughed when i saw that number (60 percent). How is it physically possible? It just didn’t seem like that was the right move. It seems like this is pushing it. Sixty percent of fans, you’re putting a lot of people in one area. i don’t think it’s the right play and I think it’s going to prove to be a huge problem.”

Rothenberg went even further, suggesting that it could end up being a disaster, just like the Adria Tour.

“To have 10,000 people…anyone who’s been to Roland Garros knows that it’s a very crowded place… even when it’s not trying to be, so just the walkways, the pathways, the bathrooms will very packed with people even at 60 percent capacity, it’s just not worth the risk. As Marion was saying, France is doing very well and the way to stop doing well is to hold a massive tennis tournament, that can spread everything again.

“You saw this with Serbia. Serbia was doing incredibly well, statistically, on coronavirus, before the Adria Tour…and since then, with other events opening as well, Serbia’s not doing well, it’s having lots of cases and lots of political rest and tennis played a small but definite part in derailing their progress. It’s such a massive role of the dice. It’s asking for trouble, it’s inviting disaster.”

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