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French Open chiefs signal intent to play tournament behind closed doors as organisers earmark September as possible date for Grand Slam to take place

French Open chiefs signal intent to play tournament behind closed doors as organisers earmark September as possible date for Grand Slam to take place
  • French Open chiefs are looking to play the tournament behind closed doors 
  • The Grand Slam's organisers are targeting September as a possible date 
  • Bernard Giudicelli said that the event needs to be played to fund grassroots
  • Last week, French Tennis refunded all ticket holders for the Grand Slam event 
French Open organisers today signalled their determination to make the tournament happen this year by suggesting it could be held behind closed doors.
Bernard Giudicelli, President of the French Tennis Federation, also declared that they have no regrets about the change of dates that has put so many noses out of joint in the game.
Last week his organisation refunded all ticket holders for the one remaining Grand Slam event of the season that looks to have a possible chance of going ahead.
French Open organisers are determined to see the tournament played behind closed doors
That gives them the freedom to hold it without spectators - there are usually close to 500,000 - as well as making a further tweak to the new date of September 20 - October 4.
'There is the tournament taking place in the stadium, and the tournament on TV screens,' he told Journal de Dimanche. 'Millions of viewers around the world are waiting. Organising it behind closed doors would allow part of the business model - television rights (responsible for more than a third of the tournament's income) - to go ahead. This cannot be overlooked.'
Guidicelli justified the move to September, which could well switch another week back in the calendar, as a necessity to finance the game's grass roots.
Last week, ticket holders were refunded as organisers target September as a return date
Last week, ticket holders were refunded as organisers target September as a return date
'We think of them first, protecting them. We made a courageous choice and today, no one regrets it.'
Unlike Wimbledon, the French have no specific pandemic insurance.
'I have regular discussions with Andrea Gaudenzi (president of the ATP), Steve Simon (president of the WTA) and David Haggerty (head of the ITF) and another call is planned next week to see how we have progressed,' added Giudicelli.
'We are working well together, but it is still a bit early to precisely determine the schedule.'
French tennis chief Bernard Giudicelli says action needs to resume to fund the grassroots
French tennis chief Bernard Giudicelli says action needs to resume to fund the grassroots
Tennis has been gradually opening up around Europe and the rest of the world, although there is a danger that some players would not be able - or perhaps willing - to make the journey to Paris in the autumn.
Unlike in sports like football, tennis players do not get paid unless they play, so many have a strong compulsion to be there. At present the US Open is still due to go ahead in late August, although most people in the game believe it will be called off within the next four weeks.
Meanwhile the Lawn Tennis Association was waiting last night to hear details of when the UK government believes it will be safe to resume the recreational playing of sports like tennis and golf, which are expected to be the first to be allowed back.

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