Coronavirus: French Open tennis Grand Slam delayed until September

The French Open tennis tournament has been postponed until September, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Initially scheduled for May 24-June 7, it will now run from September 20-October 4.

"In order to guarantee the health and safety of all those involved in the preparation of the tournament, the French Tennis Federation decided to organise the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from September 20 to October 4, 2020," the French tennis federation said.

"While no-one today can predict what the health situation will be like on May 18 (when qualifications were due to start), the lockdown measures in force make it impossible to prepare for it and therefore to organise it on the dates initially planned."

The French Open is the first Grand Slam affected by the virus that has spread around the world.

The next major tennis championship currently on the calendar is Wimbledon, scheduled to start in late June in England.

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California - a combined men's and women's event considered the sport's fifth 'major' - was the first significant change to the tennis calendar, when its postponement was announced March 8, because of COVID-19.

Last week, the men's and women's professional tennis tours began announcing cancellations of tournaments in response to the viral outbreak.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that, for at least 15 days, people in that country could only leave their homes for necessary activities, such as shopping for food or going to work.

He also banned gatherings of families and friends.

The French Open originally began in 1891, as the French Championships, and has allowed foreign entrants since 1925.

The only years the tournament was not contested were from 1915-19, because of World War I, and from 1940-45, because of World War II.

The end of this year's tournament was supposed to represent the cut-off for ATP and WTA ranking points that would help determine which players were eligible to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, starting in late July.