Leconte supports decision to allow spectators at French Open

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 6, 2018 Former tennis player Henri Leconte REUTERS/Charles Platiau

(Reuters) - Former world number five Henri Leconte has concerns over rising novel coronavirus cases in France but has backed the French Tennis Federation’s (FFT) decision to allow fans to attend the French Open.

The FFT plans to allow 5,000 spectators to attend each day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. It previously said the claycourt major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans a day.

“I think the French Open establishment are working hard to make the tournament happen. It’s much better with crowds coming,” Leconte, the last Frenchman to contest a Roland Garros final, way back in 1988 when he was defeated by Mats Wilander, was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

“I know the French Federation and French authorities will do their best to make it a great situation. It’s less people, but still some people are coming.

“If they have to make the decision to shut down like it was at the U.S. Open with nobody, they will do it. We’re all worried about what we can do, we have to all be concerned about the situation, about the future.”

The French Open will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot.

Six players in the men’s and women’s qualifying draw were withdrawn after either testing positive for COVID-19 or coming in close contact with a coach who tested positive.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel