Paris (AFP)

The puzzle continues to become more complex for Roland-Garros, trapped in the noose of the Covid-19, forced to draw lots the handful of spectators that it can accommodate and exposed to a gloomy forecast forecast at 48 hours of its launch, exceptionally rescheduled in the fall.


A mini-gauge that goes wrong

"Imposed standard", "constrained reduction": we understand by reading the words chosen by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) that the last blow of the plane applied to the spectator gauge, now reduced as a skin of grief - 1,000 spectators per day except accredited - goes badly with the organizers of Roland-Garros.

The FFT "deeply regrets this new constraint", she laments on Friday morning, the day after the new lowering of its gauge recorded by Prime Minister Jean Castex, the third in less than three weeks (from 20,000 to 11,500, then 5,000, and 1,000).

"5000 spectators (daily) in the stadium was already in our eyes a minimum gauge", insisted its president Bernard Giudicelli during a videoconference.

Asked about the economic impact of such a situation, "we are in the process of quantifying but tens of millions (of euros) have gone up in smoke", replied the deputy general manager of the marketing and economic development department. of the FFT Stéphane Morel.


750 spectators drawn at random

Faced with the urgency "48 hours from the gong" and "to guarantee a certain fairness", the organization resorted to a draw in the morning to determine which ticket holders will finally have good access to Roland-Garros and which will be deprived of it at the last minute, explained Stéphane Morel.

In detail, it is in fact only 750 spectators "general public" who will cross the gates of the stadium each day, he specified.

The remaining 250 daily places will go to "guests of our partners, in very, very limited numbers" (200) and to "elected officials and personalities who must access the stadium" (50), he explained.

The "hospitality services (offered to business customers) have been completely removed", added the manager.

If there is good news for ticket holders, it is that the few hundred lucky winners will have the opportunity to sit as they please in the stands within the limits of compliance with the rules of physical distancing.


Rain and cloudy cold

As if all the restrictions linked to the new coronavirus pandemic and the resurgence of the epidemic in France were not enough, the weather is likely to give the organizers a cold sweat throughout the Paris fortnight.

Down jacket slipped on at the change of sides, players dressed in leggings and a long-sleeved top, towels stretched over the legs to keep you warm as best you can, and even Garbiñe Muguruza covered in a yellow raincoat at a press conference: the autumn weather was well installed above Roland-Garros on Friday and the first two days of qualifying played under a still summer sun seemed far away.

By 3 p.m., heavy showers of rain and hail had already interrupted play twice for about two hours.

And the thermometer peaked at 14 degrees.

"I would like the weather to improve quickly, I have a little trouble with the cold," did not hide the world N.2 Simona Halep, crowned Monday in Rome by fifteen degrees higher.

The catch is that the forecasts do not invite optimism at all.

They promise a wet and windy start to the tournament on Sunday, with gusts of up to 60 km / h, and a whole week of rain from Thursday.

Of course, the brand new retractable roof of the Philippe-Chatrier court will prevent paralysis at Roland-Garros.

But it will not be a miracle solution at the beginning of the fortnight.

© 2020 AFP