The French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced on Thursday that the 2021 French Open tennis tournament has been postponed by a week due to the pandemic. 

The second grand slam of the year was scheduled to take place from Monday, May 17 to Sunday, June 6. However, France has seen a rise in COVID cases and has recently implemented a new lockdown, along with new national restrictions.

On Wednesday, the French Health Ministry reported that France has reached a new 2021 record of 5,729 cases. The last time France has seen an overwhelming number of patients was during the first wave of the pandemic on April 19, 2020. 

In a speech on 31 March, French President Emmauel Macron said he hoped cultural and sporting events would be back up and running from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation.

“In this context, it appeared that postponing the tournament by one week would be the best solution,” the FFT said in a statement

The qualifying rounds for the clay court event will now be held from Monday 24 to Friday 28 May and will be followed by the main draw, from Sunday 30 May to Sunday 13 June.

“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros into our newly-transformed stadium,” FFT President Gilles Moretton added.

“For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event.”

The French Open 2020 was postponed for four months, still due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually took place at the end of September with a limited audience. 

“Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case,” the ATP and WTA said in a joint statement.

“The decision to delay the start of Roland-Garros by one week has been made in the context of recently heightened COVID-19 restrictions in France, with the additional time improving the likelihood of enhanced conditions and ability to welcome fans at the event.

“Both the ATP and WTA are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimize the calendar for players, tournaments and fans in the lead up to and following Roland-Garros. Further updates will be communicated in due course.”