Organizers of the French Open announced Friday that they will have to drastically cut back from their planned attendance when main-draw play begins Sunday at Roland Garros in Paris as the country faces a drastic spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Sept. 7, the French Tennis Federation released plans that would allow for as many as 11,500 people split across three separate zones per day. But on Friday, the tournament announced just 1,000 spectators will be allowed per day to watch play across the 16 courts spread over the 29-acre site.
That represents 1/35th of the typical amount of spectators who attend in the first week of the main draw, the tournament said.
The U.S. Open was played in New York earlier this month without spectators.
"From the very outset of the public health crisis that our country is experiencing, the French Tennis Federation has consistently worked closely with government departments, to determine how to organize the tournament in the current situation. It deeply regrets these new restrictions," according to a tournament news release.
The names of people who held tickets will be drawn to see who can attend, with the drawing "supervised by a legal custodian." The tickets of those who aren't selected will be activated, with money paid reimbursed.
"The FFT shares in the disappointment felt by those who are now not going to be able to enter the grounds, due to the capped number of spectators," the tournament said.
The attendance change comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in France. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country had 27,833 new cases in the past day and 82,023 in the past week. In all, France has recorded 536,289 confirmed cases and 31,524 deaths.
Rafael Nadal of Spain, the defending champion, is seeking his 13th title at Roland Garros. A win would give him 20 all-time Grand Slam victories and tie him with Swiss great Roger Federer, who will not play because of injury.
On the women's side, the top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep of Romania.
--Field Level Media