Olympics: French Open washout but Roland Garros roof or extension 'not crucial' for Paris 2024 bid

People wait in the stands of Court Philippe Chatrier as the start of day 9 is delayed due to rain at the French Open at Roland Garros, on May 30, 2016.
People wait in the stands of Court Philippe Chatrier as the start of day 9 is delayed due to rain at the French Open at Roland Garros, on May 30, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (REUTERS) - As tennis' French Open suffered its first washout in 16 years on Monday (May 30), the head of the Paris 2024 Olympic bid said that the installation of a roof over Centre Court was not crucial for France's hopes of staging the Games.

Roland Garros is one of the Paris bid's proposed venues as France looks to host the Summer Games for the first time since the capital held the 1924 Olympics.

While all the three other grand slams - Wimbledon, the US and Australian Opens - have at least one show court with a roof, there is no hope of a covering appearing at Roland Garros before 2020.

The planned extension of the site has been put on hold by environmental activists looking to protect the neighbouring Auteuil greenhouses.

"Roland Garros is already a fantastic venue for the Olympics," bid leader Bernard Lapasset told a handful of reporters at Roland Garros on Monday.

"We could do more, but it is not crucial," he added, referring to the roof and extension projects. "It might be easier to do the roof. It's more complicated for the new court, which (as part of an extension project would not) be inside (the existing facilities)," he said.

"It's important to us that we can propose to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) members a bid faithful to our environmental values. The zone is protected and it's complicated to do something without the agreement of the people around."

French Open director Guy Forget, however, said it was a "necessity" for the French Open to have a retractable roof as soon as possible following Monday's washout.

At 8.5ha, Roland Garros is by far the smallest venue of the four majors.

Lapasset's main task is to decide on a new swimming pool venue, which, along with the Saint-Denis athletes' village, still needs to be built.

"The most important is the swimming pool because swimming is one of the biggest events (at the Olympics)," he said, adding that a choice would have to be made between four venues around the Stade de France.

Paris lost bids to Beijing to host the 2008 Summer Games and to London for the 2012 Games.

It is in competition with Los Angeles, Rome and Budapest. The IOC will unveil the host city in Lima on Sept 13, 2017.