Roland Garros, a sporting giant weakened by Covid

Antonio Torres del Cerro

Paris, May 28 (EFE).- The Roland Garros tennis tournament, one of the most important sporting events on the planet, has not escaped from the Covid tsunami unscathed. This prestigious event that has been held for more than a century in Paris faces the harsh economic consequences of the restrictions in the fight against the coronavirus.

This year’s edition, which begins on Monday and ends on June 13, will once again be under the yoke of Covid, making the French tournament the “only grand Slam” tennis tournament to suffer the vicissitudes of the pandemic “consecutively” (2020 and 2021), a spokesmen for the organization, which falls under the French Tennis Federation (FFT), told Efe.

The anti-Covid restrictions in France have been particularly severe and have been in force until very recently, especially compared to the other three countries that host the “Grand Slams”: the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

At the behest of the French government, the FFT has set audience caps – ranging from 15% to 35% of capacity – which will naturally impact box office revenues.

Compared to 2019 – before the outbreak of the pandemic – about five times fewer tickets will be sold, from 500,000 to nearly 120,000, according to the organization’s estimates. In 2020, when it was held exceptionally in October and with minimum capacities, ticket sales stood at 15,000.

That year, Roland Garros revenues fell 50% compared to 2019, to 145 million euros. No estimates were disclosed for 2021.

“There is no doubt that there is a significant drop compared to a normal edition. There will be a lot of work to clean up the financial situation,” said the general director of the FFT, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

The clay-court tournament par excellence relies on revenues from television rights as one of its main pillars.

“Normally (as in 2019), the share of revenue associated with broadcasting rights is around 40% of the total, a percentage that has risen to 60% in 2020 due to the lack of box office and other revenues,” the organizers said, preferring not to disclose provisional figures for television income.

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