The French Open tennis tournament has been postponed for about four months because of the coronavirus pandemic, shifting from May to September.
The French Tennis Federation announced the decision Tuesday. Main-draw matches for the clay-court tournament at Roland Garros in Paris were scheduled to begin May 24.
This is the first Grand Slam tournament to be affected by the virus that has spread around the world. The next major tennis championship on the calendar is Wimbledon, which is slated to start in late June in England.
The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, a combined men’s and women’s event considered the sport’s fifth major, was the first significant change to the tennis calendar when its postponement because of COVID-19 was announced March 8.
Last week, the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours began announcing cancellations of various tournaments in response to the viral outbreak.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks and those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that, for at least 15 days, people in that country would be allowed to leave their homes only for necessary activities such as shopping for food or going to work. He also banned gatherings of families and friends.
The French Open began in 1891 as the French Championships and has allowed foreign entrants since 1925. The only years in its history the tournament was not contested were from 1915 to 1919 because of World War I and from 1940 to 1945 because of World War II.
The end of this year’s tournament was supposed to represent the cutoff for ATP and WTA ranking points that would help determine which players were eligible to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to start in late July.