The Geneva Open organizers have confirmed that the 2021 edition of the tournament will be held without spectators. And that will certainly put a dampener on local fans' hopes of watching the great Roger Federer play a Swiss claycourt event for the first time since the 2013 Gstaad Open.
The main stadium will have a few people in the stands, but those will be restricted to referees, mediapeople, officials, volunteers, healthcare workers and sponsors. A total of 100 people will be allowed in, and no tickets will be up for sale to the public.
Thierry Grin, the tournament director of the Geneva Open, revealed on Wednesday that the organizers were getting 'hundreds of requests a day' from fans to see Roger Federer. But they have decided to reserve seats only for the sponsors, in recognition of their investment in the tournament.
"We are getting hundreds of requests a day," Grin said. "They would love to see Roger Federer play. But we will reserve just a few tickets only to our sponsors."
"We reserve these few tickets for our sponsors, in proportion to their investment, since they are the ones who keep the tournament alive," he added.
"We don't forget that without this particular context, Roger Federer would never have come here" - Tournament director on sponsors' financial help
The Geneva Open, sponsored by Gonet, is a tune-up event for this year's Roland Garros, and is scheduled to take place from 15 to 22 May. Roger Federer recently announced his schedule for the 2021 clay season, confirming his participation in Geneva before making the trip to Paris for the French Open.
The Geneva organizers had been trying to get Federer at their event for a long time, and they were overjoyed when he finally agreed. But the COVID-19 crisis has forced tournaments all over the world to make changes to their arrangements, and Thierry Grin acknowledged that the conditions this year would be unique.
Grin went on to add that without the sponsors' help, Roger Federer playing at Geneva might have never become a reality.
"The conditions will be very special," Grin said. "But we do not forget that without this particular context, Roger Federer would never have come here."