‘I dare not imagine it’: Tennis boss worried for French Open as Covid chaos threatens to can Grand Slam amid strict new lockdown

French tennis boss Gilles Moretton says he “dare not imagine” the prospect of canceling May’s French Open after President Emmanuel Macron announced new lockdown measures which may threaten the annual Roland-Garros tournament.

An alarming rise in Covid-19 infections has prompted French leader Macron to institute new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the potentially fatal virus, leading to considerable concerns that the tournament, which is set to start on May 24, could be nixed if the lockdown restrictions are extended. 

Moretton, who is the president of the French Tennis Federation, says that he remains confident that the tournament is “on track” but fears that he may be required to take “necessary measures” in canceling the Grand Slam event if the situation in the country worsens.

At the moment, we are on track, the tournament is on the scheduled dates,” he told the Independent. “But if we are told to lockdown for two months, we will have to take the necessary measures – the worst being the outright cancellation, but I dare not imagine that.

Moretton sees the tournament progressing with a reduced number of fans – likely with no crowds, at least for the opening days.

He also stated that the tournament team are maintaining constant contact with players and closely monitoring developments around the spread of Covid-19 throughout France. 

We are studying a lot of options for Roland-Garros 2021,” he said. “There is a total range, or almost total because I dare not imagine a 100 per cent crowd level.

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“But that can start from behind closed doors to a level that will not be 100 per cent. All the options with us are ready.

We meet all the players regularly and we will have to wait to see how things turn out.

Should Moretton’s worst fears be realized, it would be the second year in succession that the tournament has been severely impacted by Covid-19 after the virus forced the postponement of it to September last year, with just 1,000 fans permitted to attend per day.

Once it eventually got underway, Spain’s Rafael Nadal won the men’s tournament, with Poland’s Iga Swiatek taking the female crown. 

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