PARIS (AP) In the latest setback to the planned expansion of Roland Garros, construction work at the home of the French Open has been halted again by a court decision that could have an impact on Paris’ bid to host the 2024 Olympics.
Three days after France’s highest administrative jurisdiction gave its go-ahead to the project, a different court ordered a new suspension of the redevelopment.
The French tennis federation said it is “scandalized” by a decision “taken in dubious conditions” and immediately asked the court to overturn the judgment.
The Roland Garros plans have been controversial from the start after the French federation decided five years ago to keep the clay-court major there and renovate the existing site, rather than moving the tournament.
In 2013, a French tribunal suspended the plans for a few months before the administrative Court of Paris’ appeals chamber allowed the federation to expand into the Serres d’Auteuil.
Environmental groups opposing the Roland Garros extension claim the construction of a new 5,000-seat court in the botanical garden would harm the vegetation. The botanical garden’s 19th-century greenhouses, a few hundred meters (yards) from center court, holds a large variety of tropical and local flowers.
The latest ruling was issued late Thursday after the heir of architect Jean-Camille Formige – who designed the botanical gardens – asked the court to halt the project. Construction work had restarted earlier this week following the Conseil d’Etat’s ruling that overturned a court decision putting the whole project on hold.
As part of the revamping, the French tennis federation is planning to build a roof over center court by 2020. The delays could not only affect the clay-court Grand Slam event, but also have a negative impact on Paris’ bid for the 2024 Games. Bid officials are planning to use the venue both for the Olympics and Paralympics, with tennis competitions, wheelchair events in tennis, basketball and rugby as well as five-a-side soccer matches being hosted in the western Paris venue if the city wins the hosting rights. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city next year.
A new media center will also be constructed as part of revamping of the site, the smallest of the four Grand Slam venues. Roland Garros has been hosting the French Open since 1928, welcoming about 400,000 spectators every year at the 21-acre (8+-hectare) site.