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‘Health pass’ required as FFT sets out French Open attendance plans

Organisers of the French Open have said they expect the tennis grand slam to be the first event in the country to utilise a health pass system, as fan attendance plans for the tournament were confirmed today (Wednesday).

It was announced last month that this year’s French Open would be postponed by a week in a move designed to maximise fan attendance at the Roland-Garros site. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed the decision following discussions with the French public authorities and international tennis governing bodies.

As a result, the tournament will now take place from May 24 to June 13, with the main draw to begin on May 30. At the time, the FFT said it hoped the event could be played in front of the “largest possible number of fans”, with attendance plans being spelled out today.

The plans are intended to tie in with France’s reopening strategy, which was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on April 29. FFT director general Amelie Oudea-Castera said spectators would need to utilise a health pass to gain entry, either demonstrating proof that they had undertaken a negative PCR or antigen test within 48 hours of attendance, or provide a certificate of vaccination.

Macron detailed a four-phase roadmap out of lockdown, with sports bodies and clubs set to be affected from the second stage. The May 30 to June 8 period takes in the second phase, with up to 5,388 fans being permitted entrance to Roland-Garros per day.

Phase three takes effect from June 9, and for the French Open this means that total daily capacity will increase to 13,146, with a maximum capacity of 5,000 per court. However, the FFT has failed to receive a waiver for the curfews currently in place in France.

This year’s tournament was due to see night sessions introduced for the first time. From the Monday of the first week until the quarter-finals, held on the Wednesday of the second week, 10 night sessions had been scheduled on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

A 9pm curfew extending through to June 8 will eliminate nine of the 10 sessions. On June 9, which coincides with the start of the third phase of reopening and the extension of the curfew to 11pm, Roland-Garros will be able to host one evening session, which has been brought forward one hour to start at 8pm.

The FFT has also announced it will stage a “Tous en finale” experience on June 12-13, where fans will be able to watch the women’s and men’s singles finals on a giant screen installed on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Gilles Moretton, president of the FFT, said: “Roland-Garros will celebrate the return of the public in France. After six years of gigantic work, the Roland-Garros stadium is completing its metamorphosis.

“More spacious… more modern while retaining its atmosphere and unique character. It is a setting of 12 hectares in phase with its time which is part of the heritage of France and will make our sport shine.”

The 2020 French Open was postponed due to the pandemic but went ahead with limited fan attendance from September 21 to October 11. Attendance was eventually capped at 1,000 per day, much lower than the original 50% the FFT had hoped for.

Image: Christophe Guibbaud/FFT