The French Open was originally rescheduled until September with the idea behind the move being to keep the safety of players, officials, workers and spectators in mind. Yet even with this precaution, the tournament will likely be played in front of a limited crowd, if it gets played in front of one at all.
French tennis federation’s general director, Jean-François Vilotte, spoke with the Associated Press on Wednesday about the subject. The good news, at least, is that a spectator-less tournament is a last resort.
“Of course, we can have less people, so that the flow of people is made easier,” he said to the AP. “The options range from a very small reduction to the number of fans to various levels of reduction.
“We are considering all the options. But we obviously prefer not to play behind closed doors. We want there to be fans there, fans who respect precautionary measures. I have a hard time understanding why restaurants and shops are allowed to re-open, but we can’t do so at a big event like ours.”
While the final statement might raise some eyebrows, those words coming from the mouth of the director make a bit more sense when contextualized with the amount of money that will be lost as a result of minimized attendance — and that’s in the best-case scenario. Not only that, but it’ll be a logistical challenge to make sure all courts adhere to the guidelines, with 17 arenas used in the tournament.
Last year’s French Open set an attendance record with 520,000. Needless to say, that will last another year.