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Exclusive: French Open organisers ask employees to fill empty seats on main court

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Exclusive: French Open organisers ask employees to fill empty seats on main court
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 9, 2019. Spain's Rafael Nadal and Austria's Dominic Thiem warm up before their final match. REUTERS/Charles Platiau   -   Copyright  CHARLES PLATIAU(Reuters)
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – French Open organisers asked employees to fill empty corporate seats for Saturday’s men’s semi-final and start of the women’s final, demanding they stay ‘discreet’ and take off their accreditation once seated, Reuters learned on Sunday.

Seats and boxes set aside for officials and corporate sponsors are often empty on Roland Garros’s main Philippe Chatrier court around lunchtime, as ticket holders enjoy the hospitality on offer rather than the tennis.

The stadium was not full, for example, when 11-times French Open champion Rafael Nadal and 20-times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer started their semi-final on Friday.

Organisers said on Sunday that they were considering implementing an ‘overbooking’ system similar to airlines and hotels to make sure that seats are occupied. [nL8N23G09R]

On Saturday, however, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) offered employees the chance to watch the action in unoccupied boxes.

“Because of the scheduling changes for tomorrow, June 8, the management of the tournament has the pleasure to authorise the employees of the FFT (black and grey badges) and their privies (white badge with black stripe) to access the boxes from 12pm to attend the end of the men’s semi-final and the start of the women’s final,” the FFT said in an email to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

“It is well understood that the following rules must be respected:

- At every change over, when the guests enter the court, stand up and stay in proximity of the box. Step aside as the clients arrive.

- Stay discreet. Take off your accreditation once in the box. Do not bring food.

- Do not disclose this measure on social media,” the note added.

The French tennis federation (FFT) did not immediately comment when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)

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