Even if enough COVID-safe protocols can be shoe-horned into place, the upcoming  French Open might still face a start delay of a few days next month.

A government spokesman updated AFP on the current situation with the country locked down as it experiences a third wave of the pandemic.

Any delay to the June 6 finishing date for the clay-court major would seriously impact a run of German clay tournaments due to begin on June 7, including Bad Homburg and Berlin (WTA) and Stuttgart and Halle / Westfalen (ATP).

Though the current strict French restrictions are due to end early next month prior to the May 17 start of qualifying at Roland Garros, nothing is written in stone.

“Discussions are underway with the organisers on the methods used, in particular for the reception of the public,” a sports ministry spokesman said.

“A delay of a few days is under discussion.”

The French Open was postponed by four months last season as the COVID pandemic struck, with the event played in the autumn chill and low light of October.

Trying that tactic again might not work, with the ATP most likely loath to wipe out the Asian swing during that period for a second consecutive year.

There is also the problem of the Indian Wells Masters mega-event, which was postponed in March for a second straight season.

Organisers at the massive ATP-WTA outing are hoping to find a space in the calendar during the mild autumn period in the Californian desert to get their tournament off and running for the first time since 2019.

Last year’s Roland Garros played in front of just 1,000 spectators per day; given the current virus situation, all decisions on crowd size – or no crowds at all – will certainly be last-minute.

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