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Roland-Garros launched its 2020 edition on Sunday, six months after the announcement of its postponement, to everyone’s surprise. This exceptionally autumnal version must however deal with the restrictions and constraints linked to Covid-19, with a gauge of 1,000 spectators per day against 35,000 daily visitors usually in the first week, and a very threatening sky.
Six months after the announcement of his postponement, the tennis ball returned to Paris. The tournament Roland Garros launched Sunday September 27 its exceptionally autumnal 2020 edition. The restrictions and constraints related to Covid-19, as well as a threatening weather, however complicate the task of the organizers and the players.
The opening of the Parisian Grand Slam is the culmination of six months of twists and turns, since its reprogramming decided unilaterally by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) half-March. The latest tightening of its spectator level to a maximum of 1,000 a day, just three days ago, has also added to the climate of uncertainty surrounding the competition.
Between the two, Roland-Garros initially aimed to welcome up to 20,000 spectators daily at the start of the summer. Faced with the resurgence of the epidemic in France in September, the gauge has reduced in less than three weeks. First to 11,500 maximum, it rose to 5,000, and finally to 1,000 spectators per day, “on the whole of the stadium and its 16 courts, on a site of 12 hectares, that is to say a gauge 35 times lower to that commonly practiced in the first week of the final table in previous years “, according to the official site of the French open. In other words, light years from the 520,000 visitors received in 2019.
“These are tens of millions [d’euros] which went up in smoke, “said the deputy general manager of the marketing and economic development department of the FFT, Stéphane Morel.
To organize the tournament despite everything, Roland-Garros has implemented a strict health protocol for players, as well as for their entourage, reduced in this case.
First, there is the repeated cleaver of PCR tests at Covid-19. Each person must complete the first two within 48 hours of arrival in Paris and the following every five days. Screenings that caused misunderstandings and criticism even before the launch of the tournament, especially when coaches or players received positive results, despite having been contaminated before and having antibodies, according to them.
Debate also around the strict obligation to stay in one of the two hotels reserved for them almost exclusively. In addition, they are asked not to leave it, except to go to training, for medical reasons, or to go to the stadium … Only on match days.
It is now the Parisian sky that threatens the smooth running of the tournament from this Sunday. Météo France is forecasting rain, a felt temperature of 9 ° C and wind gusts of up to 60 km / h.
“The conditions are probably the most difficult I have ever known at Roland Garros,” summarized Rafael Nadal, crowned twelve times on Parisian clay.
Finally a roof
The good news for Roland-Garros is that its main court finally has a retractable roof to protect it from the rain. The competition was the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments to be completely dependent on the vagaries of the weather.
This is not the case on the Suzanne-Lenglen court, where Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka refused to wait in the cold and pushed the referee to interrupt her match of 1 after three games.er tower. “It’s getting a little ridiculous. Can’t you see what’s going on? […] It’s too cold, “she told the referee.” You can’t hold your racquet because it’s too wet. “
The match resumed around thirty minutes later, ending with the victory of the former world number 1.
The stakes of this 2020 tournament are historic. Nadal wants to win a thirteenth trophy at Roland Garros, unprecedented in a single Grand Slam tournament. As for the world number 1, Novak Djokovic, it is for him to become the first player of the Open era to offer himself at least twice each of the Grand Slam titles.