After reducing the number of daily spectators from 11,500 to 5,000 for the upcoming edition of the French Open, the organisers have further decreased the number to allow only 1,000 fans a day to watch the clay-court Grand Slam.
The development comes after the French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that similar restrictions would be imposed on the Roland Garros as on other sports events taking place in the designated ‘red zones’.
The identification of and sanctions on red zones were started on Thursday after a few areas had witnessed a steady increase in coronavirus cases.
“We will apply the same rules at Roland Garros as elsewhere,” said Castex. “We go from 5,000 to 1,000.”
However, according to a report carried by AFP, the designated figure of thousand does not include stakeholders such as officials, media, players and staff.
French Open chief Guy Forget expressed his regret for not being able to host more fans and said that he had hoped to made sure at least 5,000 spectators got allowed into the Roland Garros complex.
“We are able to accommodate 5,000, as small as it is, on a 12-hectare area,” he said.
“We stage the tournament on the equivalent of 15 football fields, outdoors. Everyone wears a mask, even the ball boys and girls and chair umpires.”
Meanwhile, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) had initially aimed to host crowds of around 5,000 at both the Philippe-Chatrier and Suzanne-Lenglen showcourts with the intention to allow another 1,500 fans at the smaller Simonne-Mathieu court.
As a result, the organisers are all set to bare a financial crunch due to the decreasing number of spectators. The limit of 1,000 a days is less than 3% of 2019’s total attendance of 520,000.
Last year, Roland Garros shared a massive 80 per cent of the the FFT annual budget of 255.4 million euros out of a total 325 million.
The French Open, which was originally scheduled to start in May but had to be moved back because of the outbreak of novel coronavirus, is slated to be played from September 27 to October 11.