“We want our tournament to be truly remarkable and to set an example”

 - Myrtille Rambion

Now that the health and safety protocol for the 2020 Roland-Garros tournament has been unveiled, Jean-François Vilotte, Director General of the FFT, gives us an outline of what to expect.

Jean-François Vilotte in the new Roland-Garros stadium©Frédéric Stevens/FFT

The 2020 edition of the Roland-Garros tournament, which begins on 21 September, will certainly be unusual. Firstly, due to the time of year: the Parisian Grand Slam is being played in the autumn, for the first time in the tournament’s history.

Secondly, due to the transformation of Philippe-Chatrier court, which now boasts a retractable roof. And lastly, due to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires an extremely strict health and safety protocol to be rolled out for everyone involved in the event.

For rolandgarros.com, Jean-François Vilotte, Director General of the French Tennis Federation, explains the reasoning behind the measures and gives specific details about how they will be implemented.

Sunny new Roland-Garros 2020©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT
Can you give us an outline of the health and safety protocol to be implemented at Roland-Garros?

The aim of this health and safety protocol is to act responsibly by protecting everyone who, for whatever reason, is present inside the stadium during the 2020 edition of the tournament, while organising this outstanding international tennis event. The primary protective measure is to enable everyone to respect social distancing guidelines and hygiene precautions: first of all, the health and safety protocol states that everyone must wear a face covering, that the flow of people will be managed so that social distancing guidelines can be respected and, for the same reason, it ensures that enough space will be left between spectators when seated. Similarly, a whole series of passive protective measures will be rolled out inside the stadium, such as hand sanitiser dispensers. But, in addition to these measures, we have devised a way of physically partitioning the stadium so that visitors can avoid close interaction with other people.


Was partitioning the stadium the best solution for welcoming visitors in the best possible conditions this year?

The partitions put in place will be restrictive, but they are there for obvious reasons so the spectators will understand. The way Roland-Garros Stadium is set out and managed will, of course, be quite different to previous editions. But we are lucky to have a 12-hectare stadium that spans 1 kilometre from east to west, and various competition sites: Simonne-Mathieu court to the east, then Philippe-Chatrier court, Suzanne-Lenglen court and, to the west, the outside courts. This unique layout means that Roland-Garros stadium is not like any other traditional sporting facility. This distinctive feature will allow us to organise the tournament in the best possible way, to ensure that the competition runs smoothly – which is non-negotiable – while ensuring the safety of the various populations.

Panama in the stands at Roland-Garros 2019©Emilie Hautier/FFT

These populations include the people who organise the tournament in every sense. What provisions have been made for them? 

In terms of the people who are regularly present inside the stadium, in particular the people who are involved in organising the different aspects of the tournament, we have set up a testing policy that will determine whether or not their accreditation will be issued. And for accredited persons present at the stadium over a longer period, these tests will be repeated at various intervals throughout the tournament’s duration.


We imagine that the protocol will also be extremely strict for the players and their entourage…

Yes of course. We will pay particular attention to the athletes and their entourage who, by definition, will be in greater proximity to one another. So, again, following the example we have seen elsewhere and which we ourselves have put in place when organising other, less prestigious tournaments [Ed.: such as the Challenge Elite FFT], we will implement strict hygiene conditions for the athletes and their entourage in order to monitor and detect any traces of COVID-19 contamination. This health and safety protocol is extremely strict and very responsible. We would never have considered holding the tournament if we were not convinced, along with the public authorities, that this health and safety protocol fulfils all of the current health and hygiene guidelines.

Prise de température au Challenge Elite FFT.©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
The decision to hold Roland-Garros in this unprecedented context was not taken lightly, we see…

The FFT has a responsibility to protect the health of anyone involved in the tournament: it has a responsibility to international tennis to organise this major tournament and it also has a responsibility to society. What we want people to see is that it is possible to enjoy sport, socialise and interact with other people while respecting strict health and hygiene guidelines. We want our tournament to be truly remarkable and to set an example, from all angles. By setting an example with our tournament, we hope to prove that we can get the economy back on track, though it goes without saying that certain conditions and certain restrictions must be respected.  


What do you mean by this?

As the organisers of this sporting event – which is, along with the Tour de France, the most important regular international sporting event to be held in France – we have a responsibility in terms of employment, economic activity, the reputation of the City of Paris and the Greater Paris region, and, more generally, the events-based economy. From this point of view, the 2020 tournament is not just a sporting event, it is also proof that, even in the current climate, we have the human resources and the expertise, in the field of sporting events, to organise an event of this scale while doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of all people involved. 

Discover here all the details of the health and safety protocol.