French green light for pro sport to continue despite second lockdown

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Paris return? Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the French Open at Roland Garros earlier this month
Paris return? Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the French Open at Roland Garros earlier this month

Professional sports tournaments in France can continue despite the country being ordered into a second national lockdown, said sports minister Roxana Maracineanu early Thursday.

"Top athletes and professional athletes will be able to continue training. And they will also be able to continue to compete since travel for professional reasons is allowed," said Maracineanu.

Her announcement came just hours after French President Emmanuel Macron said a new coronavirus lockdown would be introduced until at least December 1.

A second wave of cases has sent the death toll in France to nearly 35,000.

Maracineanu's speech to the country's National Assembly was an immediate boost for the Paris Masters tennis event due to be staged in the French capital from Monday.

Slovakian player Lukas Lacko posted a statement from ATP Player Relations which said the French Tennis Federation (FFT) will stage the tournament behind closed doors at the 20,000-capacity Bercy Arena in the east of the city.

"However, further government clearance is necessary," the ATP said in a message to "players and team members".

"The FFT will continue to engage with the French government to confirm the ability to play behind closed doors as soon as possible and under exactly what conditions."

The Paris Masters carries a total prize money purse of 4.3 million euros.

World number two Rafael Nadal, who won a 13th French Open at Roland Garros in Paris just over two weeks ago, is the top seed at the tournament.

bpa/dep-dj