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French Open To Allow 11,500 Fans Each Day, Barty Opts Out

T
he French Tennis Federation (FFT) has announced the French Open will allow 11,500 spectators each day, across three different zones, when the tournament begins on September 27.

The organisers had originally planned to hold up to 60% capacity at Roland Garros for the rescheduled competition, but a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across France has seen that number drop.

The three zones included are the Philippe Chatrier main court, the Suzanne Lenglen court, both of which will hold a maximum of 5,000 fans, and Simonne Mathieu court will hold a maximum of 1,500 fans.

The FFT confirmed fans will not be permitted to move between each zone, with restrictions on players being enforced including players must stay in one of two tournament hotels, and only will be allowed at Roland Garros when they are playing matches.

FFT director general, Jean-Francois Vilotte, said the FFT has also increased the prize money for players who are eliminated in the qualifying and first round of the competition.

“The FFT has a responsibility to protect the health of anyone involved in the tournament,” Vilotte said.

“It has a responsibility to international tennis to organise this major tournament and it also has a responsibility to society.

“What we want people to see is that it is possible to enjoy sport, socialise and interact with other people while respecting strict health and hygiene guidelines.

“We want our tournament to be truly remarkable and to set an example, from all angles.

“By setting an example with our tournament, we hope to prove that we can get the economy back on track; though it goes without saying that certain conditions and certain restrictions must be respected,” he said.

Australian star, and world number one, Ash Barty, has confirmed she will not defend her French Open title from 2019 due to COVID-19 concerns.

This decision means Barty will not play an international competition again in 2020, with Barty saying the state border closures in Australia has made it difficult to train.

“It has been a difficult decision to make but unfortunately, I will not be competing in Europe this year,” Barty said in a statement.

“Last year’s French Open was the most special tournament of my career so this is not a decision I have made lightly.

“There are two reasons for my decision.

“The first is the health risks that still exist with COVID.

“The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to the state border closures in Australia.

“I wish the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament.

“I now look forward to a long pre-season and the summer in Australia.

“It has been a challenging year for everyone and although I am disappointed on a tennis front, the health and wellbeing of my family and my team will always be my priority.

“Thank you to my fans for your continued support, I can’t wait to play for you again,” she said.

Barty will retain her world number one ranking despite missing the remainder of the 2020 international calendar, due to the WTA announcing players who choose to opt-out of international competition will retain their rankings.