On Friday, a couple of days before the year’s final Grand Slam starts at Paris, France recorded 15,797 new coronavirus cases and 150 new deaths. A burgeoning population continuing battling the coronavirus, an unrest among players on various Covid related issues and minimal clarity on test results has ensured that the French Open is enduring a nightmarish beginning.
Initially, the French Open organisers said that the event would see 20,000 fans being allowed to enter the arena. As coronavirus cases jumped, the number was reduced to 11,500. It further dropped to 5000 and now finally it has been decided that only 1000 will be allowed in. Fans and players mingling are a risk, especially after what happened at the Tour de France where supporters could come in close proximity to riders during a race and at one stage, four support staff from four different teams contracted the virus.
Players have been asked to pick one of two hotels designated by the authorities. This means that French players with housing in the capital have been asked to move into these ‘official properties. Serena Williams had earlier voiced her desire to stay in her own apartment in Paris and insinuated that if fans were being allowed to be in close proximity with players, then the ‘bubble’ wasn’t as secure in the first place. “Well, if there are fans, then we should be able to stay elsewhere, then,” the 23-time major winner said at the US Open, according to a report in Yahoo. “Yeah, that’s interesting, because there is no private housing but there’s fans.”
Damir’s dire case
One of the bizarre stories from the French Open this week has been that of Damir Dzumhur. Ranked 116 in the world, Dzumhur was supposed to take part in the French Open qualifiers before it was revealed that he was in contact with his coach Petar Popovic, who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Both coach and player alleged that the French organisers didn’t give them the opportunity for a second test. They had asked for a second test because Popovic had already contracted the virus this year and was ‘full of antibodies’ — his statement according to a report in L’Equipe. The duo is ready to sue the organisers of the French Open after Popovic went through another test which came back negative.
It’s a scandal and a huge frustration,” Popovic told L’Equipe on Tuesday. “I’m sure we’re going to win in court. They’re going to pay a lot for this. It makes me crazy,” he added.
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