The French Open tennis tournament was postponed for about four months because of the coronavirus pandemic, shifting from May to September. The French tennis federation announced the decision Tuesday.
Main-draw matches for the clay-court tournament at Roland Garros in Paris were scheduled to begin on May 24.
This is the first instance of a Grand Slam tournament being affected by the virus that has spread around the world. The next major tennis championship currently on the calendar is Wimbledon, which is slated to start in late June in England.
The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, a combined men’s and women’s event considered the sport’s fifth major, was the first significant change to the tennis calendar when its postponement was announced March 8 because of coronavirus.
Last week, the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours began announcing cancellations of various tournaments in response to the viral outbreak.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that for at least 15 days, people in that country would only be allowed to leave their homes for necessary activities such as shopping for food or going to work. He also banned gatherings of families and friends.
The French Open originally began in 1891 as the French Championships and has allowed foreign entrants since 1925. The only years in its history the tournament was not contested were from 1915-19 because of World War I and from 1940-45 because of World War II.
The end of this year’s tournament was supposed to represent the cutoff for ATP and WTA ranking points that would help determine which players were eligible to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics starting in late July.
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