French Tennis Federation chief Bernard Guidicelli says that the French Open Grand Slam tournament could be played behind closed doors, in an interview to the Journal du Dimanche. The tournament was scheduled to take place from May 24-June 7 but has been pushed back to September 20-October 4 due to the current global pandemic.
There are talks that it may be further moved back by one week in the calendar. Guidicelli says, "We haven’t ruled out any option. Roland Garros is first and foremost a story of matches and players. “There is the tournament taking place in the stadium, and the tournament on TV screens.
“Millions of viewers around the world are waiting. Organising it behind closed doors would allow part of the business model — television rights (which account for more than a third of the tournament’s revenues) — to go ahead.
This cannot be overlooked”. Guidicelli says that he is regularly in touch with the heads of the ATP Tour, WTA Tour and the ITF. “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.
“We are working well together, but it is still a bit early to precisely determine the schedule”. While the French Tennis Federation came under a lot of criticism for their decision to move their event without discussions with any other tennis bodies, Guidicelli says he believes he made the right decision in the interest of tennis in France.
“Roland Garros is the driving force of tennis in France, it is what feeds the players in our ecosystem (260 million euros in revenue, or 80% of the turnover of the FFT). “We think of them first, protecting them.
We made a courageous choice and today, no one regrets it”. “A tournament without a date is a boat without a rudder — we don’t know where we’re going. “We positioned ourselves as far in the calendar as possible, anxious not to harm major events, so that no Masters 1000 or any Grand Slam would be affected. The turn of events seems to have proved us right”.
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