The French Open has been delayed by one week because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governing body of the tennis tournament said Thursday.
The French Tennis Federation said first-round matches will now begin on May 30 instead of May 23 because of sharp spikes in coronavirus infections in France.
The postponement marks the second year in a row the French Open has been disrupted by the pandemic.
The federation postponed last year’s tournament to September and limited daily attendance to 1,000 people.
This year’s delay came as hospitals in France struggle to handle the surge in coronavirus cases. The government recently imposed new lockdown restrictions to contain the spikes, including a month-long domestic travel ban and a three-week school closure.
The federation said the decision to delay was aimed at ensuring that “as many spectators as possible” would be able to safely attend the event.
Federation president Gilles Moreton said public authorities, the governing bodies of global tennis events, broadcasters and other partners were first consulted before announcing the delay.
The federation was roundly criticized for postponing last year’s French Open without first consulting with the top men’s and women’s events.