April 15, 2021

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L’Équipe: Roland Garros to be postponed one week

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Julien Reboullet of the French sports newspaper l’Équipe has just reported that this year’s edition of Roland Garros is going to be postponed a week.

Rather than being held from May 23 – June 6, it still instead take place May 30 – June 13.

If accurate, it’s not as drastic as in 2020, when the tournament postponed its dates to late September/early October.

L’Équipe expects the French Tennis Federation to make it official shortly.

The newspaper also reports that postponing to the fall was not under consideration this year.

The FFT is counting on a loosening of the COVID-19 restrictions, which (hopefully) will take happen beginning in mid-May.

It believes (hopes?) that the tournament will be able to welcome more fans.

And if the government goes through with the planned re-opening of outdoor dining in mid-May, the tournament could then resume the tournament hospitality that requires allowances for numbers of people who can gather.

The ability to accomplish both those goals would obviously mean a huge different in tournament revenues, after a very lean year in 2020.

Grass-court season compromised

In “normal” seasons, that second week of June would herald the start of the grass-court season. There is a men’s event in Stuttgart, a women’s event in Nottingham and men’s and women’s tournaments in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

None of those tournaments were held last year.

What the tours would do with them is unknown. L’Équipe writes that the French Federation would have to compensate them financially. The newspaper mentions that “a few hundred thousand euros” were given to tournaments in Montpellier and Marseille by Tennis Australia, after it pushed back the Australian Open.

The postponement would leave just two weeks between the end of Roland Garros and the start of Wimbledon – just like the old days.

It’s a gamble, though.

Because even though the French government has decreed the length of the current lockdown measures, it’s far too soon at this point to tell if they’ll work and – more crucially – if they might be extended if they don’t.

Restrictions strict in Paris for four weeks

As of last Saturday at 7 p.m., additional restrictions were put in place for a period of four additional weeks – so, until June 1.

During the day – from 6 a.m. until the 7 p.m. curfew, people are allowed to move within 10 kilometres of their home, if they have the proper paperwork. Further than that, it has to be for essential or work reasons.

Travel to other regions is not allowed except for essential reasons (including family reasons like returning or beinging a child to its parent).

There is to be no alcohol served in public spaces, nor gatherings of more than six people.

Stores stocking what are called “first-necessity” goods and services are allowed to remain open.

In France that means (we kid you not): bookstores, music stores, hardware/reno stores, plant and flower shops, hair salons, shoe repair shops, chocolate shops, car dealerships and such. Large-scale stores that attract large numbers of shoppers are closed – 10,000 square metres is the cutoff.

School, bars, sports venues remain closed

Schools will be closing for three or four weeks (but that includes a two-week spring break).

Universities are continuing with their current protocols, which are that a student can be on site only one day per week.

Movie theatres, theatres and other performance venues, and sporting and entertainment establishments, which were already closed, will remain so. That goes for bars and restaurants as well.

The hope that they will gradually re-open, beginning in mid-May.