The French Open tennis grand slam has been moved back to September and October due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. But the All England Club has said it is continuing to plan for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
The French Open was due to be played from May 24-June 7. It will now take place between September 20-October 4.
It is scheduled to take place just a week after the conclusion of the hard court US Open in New York. It will also potentially clash with several planned tournaments that fortnight, including the Laver Cup in Boston.
Currently, all professional tennis is on hold with the ATP and WTA Tours suspending their global competitions due to the ongoing health crisis.
French Open organizers had been especially keen to preserve this year’s tournament following a multi-million dollar renovation of the facility, including a new retractable roof over the Philippe Chatrier Court.
The FFT said in a statement: “While no one today can predict what the health situation will be like on 18 May [the scheduled start of qualification], the lockdown measures in force make it impossible to prepare for it and therefore to organise it on the dates initially planned.”
FFT president, Bernard Giudicelli, added: “We have made a difficult yet brave decision in this unprecedented situation, which has evolved greatly since last weekend. We are acting responsibly, and must work together in the fight to ensure everybody’s health and safety.”
However, the FFT has been accused of failing to consult with players and other tournament organisers.
Canadian player ,Vasek Pospisil, tweeted: “This is madness: major announcement by Roland Garros changing the dates to one week after the US Open. No communication with the players or the ATP. We have ZERO say in this sport. It’s time.”
The All England Lawn Tennis Club, the organizer of the Wimbledon Championships, released a statement today (Tuesday) indicating it continued “to monitor the coronavirus situation on an active basis.” But it stopped short of postponing the tournament, which is scheduled to take place from June 29 to July 12.
The AELTC said it was following UK government advice to avoid non-essential social gatherings and work from home where possible.
“At this time, we continue to plan for The Championships and the grass court season and we intend to maintain the Estate with a limited team onsite, with the rest of our business operations taking place through remote working,” the statement said.
For this reason, the AELTC said it had closed the Wimbledon Museum and Tours, shop and community sports ground.
Richard Lewis, CBE, chief executive of the AELTC said: “At the heart of our decision-making is our commitment to the health and safety of our members, staff, and the public, and we are grateful to the government and public health authorities for their advice and support.
“While we continue to plan for The Championships at this time, it remains a continuously evolving situation and we will act responsibly, in the best interests of wider society. We thank all of our members, staff, players, partners, contractors and the public for their patience and trust as we continue to navigate this unprecedented global challenge,” Lewis said.
Meanwhile, the United States Tennis Association said moving the US Open to a later date was a “possibility” but any decision would be made “in full consultation” with the relevant stakeholders.