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Roland-Garros: how many spectators allowed? 

If the organizers hoped to welcome 20,000 spectators per day, it would seem that they will have to be content with 5,000 in view of the health context.

The organizers of Roland-Garros dreamed of welcoming up to 20,000 spectators per day despite the coronavirus, but this scenario seems more and more improbable after the veto put by the Prime Minister to any exemption in the red zone to the tonnage of 5,000 people . The cancellation was feared, there was a postponement. The camera seemed to be considered, there will be a priori the public. But how many?

The question is important because the French Tennis Federation (FFT) lives on the income of its flagship tournament: 255.4 million euros out of a total budget of 325 million in 2019. Of this sum, the ticket office (519,901 spectators on the fortnight) accounted for 18% to which we must also add 18% of hospitality. On July 2, by relaunching the French Open ticket office after the cancellation of the first sale and the reimbursement of all tickets, the FFT assured that the Porte d’Auteuil enclosure would accommodate up to 20,000 people per day on all of its courts for the 2020 edition rescheduled from September 27 to October 11, ie “from 50 to 60% of its usual tonnage”. Thus, 10,000 places were put on sale for each of the finals.

Showdown with the prefecture

Since then, officially, the FFT has not budged from this figure by emphasizing the precautions put in place to ensure the health security of the population on the site (players, spectators, media, staff). But the French Prime Minister Jean Castex questioned this gauge on August 26, announcing that it would no longer be “possible for the prefectural authority to derogate” from the maximum level of 5,000 people “in the red departments”, which includes the Roland-Garros site in western Paris. And from a source close to the file, the Paris police prefect Didier Lallement has the firm intention of applying the government instruction to the letter. Result for Roland-Garros which could no longer accommodate a total of 5,000 spectators per day on all the courts: new reimbursement of tickets sold, third ticket office, financial losses.

Beyond the gauge, the technical questions on the flow of spectators on the site and the evacuation routes are raised to justify a review of what the FFT had decided in agreement with the authorities several months ago. , in another context. An inter-ministerial meeting is scheduled for next week on the issue. “Clearly, the trend is not good,” a source close to the matter told AFP on Friday. The fear is also to create a precedent, and that others rush into it. ” One of the avenues, notably mentioned by the Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu but which does not seem to suit the prefecture, would be to split the Roland-Garros complex to make each of the large courts (Philippe-Chatrier, Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne -Mathieu) totally independent in order to increase the number of areas to 5,000 spectators.

The “worried” players

“When the time comes, there will be details,” simply commented to AFP the director general of the FFT Jean-François Vilotte. For their part, from the New York bubble, where the American Federation (USTA) organized the US Open behind closed doors and under drastic sanitary conditions, players are beginning to wonder about their safety at Roland Garros. “It’s very rigorous, very strict (…) but at the same time it’s reassuring. When you are in the bubble, there is no risk of contamination, ”Nicolas Mahut told Eurosport, exactly one month before the start of the Paris tournament. However, “we have no news of the protocol that will be implemented at Roland Garros and the players are starting to be quite worried. Many say they would like the conditions to be the same at Roland Garros (as in Flushing Meadows) and quite honestly I don’t see how it’s going to be possible to do the same in Paris, like creating a bubble around players by allowing the public, ”added the world number 3 in doubles.

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