The Roland-Garros tournament is due to start on Sunday, after qualifying which suggested an atmosphere weighed down by the coronavirus epidemic.

The athletes, stranded in two hotels, subject to a drastic health protocol, can no longer take it.

It's not a party near the Bois de Boulogne.

The Roland-Garros tennis tournament does not start until Sunday, but the atmosphere is already weighed down by the coronavirus epidemic.

The qualifying phases, still ongoing, were indeed the opportunity for the athletes to test the health protocol.

And this one is drastic: the players undergo a lot of tests, are discarded when they are positive and live reclusive in the two hotels which are dedicated to them.

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"I don't know of any profession where you have to be tested three times"

And this can pose several problems.

Because the qualifying phases include players who, for many, find it difficult to make a living from tennis and are content with limited income.

Unlike the US Open, they pay their own plane and food for the stay, only the hotel being paid by the organization of Roland-Garros.

It is therefore all the more difficult, after having invested so much, to learn of an exclusion from the tournament.

More broadly, this edition of Roland-Garros is marked by a heavy atmosphere to bear with this sword of Damocles above your head.

"I don't know of any profession where you have to arrive four days in advance, be tested three times and be imprisoned in the hotel," sighs the young Carole Monnet.

"I find that a little weird."

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Complaint against the organization

Some cases are very specific, such as that of Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, one of the five players excluded from qualifying in connection with Covid-19, due to the positive test of his trainer Petar Popovic.

Both explained that it was a "false positive" because of the antibodies generated by an old contamination and intend to file a complaint against the organization of the tournament.

They had nevertheless signed the Roland-Garros charter, which detailed this so heavy Covid procedure.

As for the organizers, we assume everything.

"If a player comes out positive, we take his sample and retest it. Above all, we require two positive tests to validate the positivity of the test," explains Dr Bernard Montalvan, responsible for the health protocol, to AFP.

"Our protocol, we decided in relation with the Regional Health Agency (ARS), the government, our scientific committee. The ARS and the Ministry (of Health) have ruled on the fact that someone who developed antibodies is not guaranteed not to have and transmit the virus again. So for us, only the PCR test matters. We wrote it down, the players read and signed it. "