Bonjour Paris et Roland Garros 2013

By Jane Voigt

Think what you will about the French – they are great tennis fans, though somewhat quirky in their allegiance. But whoever put together one page of the online Spectator Guide was handed one tough assignment.

As we know, walking past the turn-styles at any tournament has become complicated. We are no longer afforded the pleasure of a backpack stuffed with lunch, table cloth, and napkins. Nor can we carry a small knife to slice cheese to savor along with a nice bottle of wine. Security has trumped our simple tennis lifestyles, which can be viewed in many ways. 

Most people probably accept its necessity. Some get annoyed. Whatever your perspective, it’s here to stay. The threat of terrorism at large gatherings has proven rife with risk. Therefore, The French Tennis Federation must limit its liabilities. It does so by paying close attention to every detail on-site for fans, players, media, volunteers, vendors, and security personnel. The venue rests in central Paris, less than 3 miles from more exclusive hotels. Busy streets with cars zooming every which way paint a chaotic backdrop, and one that could draw unexpected dangers.

The group that put together the icons across from the e-brochures Summary has made themselves abundantly clear. Ticket holders are banned from bringing in dozens of objects, including dogs, with the exception of seeing-eye dogs. 

Here are the restricted objects: a handgun, knife, fireworks, a valise, suitcase on wheels; hand scooter, a telescope on a tripod, scissors, flags, aerosol cans, bicycles, water bottles, baby carriages, soda cans, helmets, canned food, bottled water, skateboards, and rollerblades. 

The list pretty much tosses out anything but the clothing on your back, a purse, wallet, hats, cell phone, and camera. Most find that less is better, but nowadays you don’t have a choice. 

The one annoying practice that had startled tourists, predominantly western ones, has finally been forbidden on the grounds and in the stands at Roland Garros … smoking cigarettes. 

One blogger wrote as recently as 2011, “The other thing that kind of annoyed me was the insane amount of smoking. Didn’t think it would be allowed there.” Another wrote, “The only ones not smoking outside the stadiums are litttle children.”

Under ‘Roland Garros from A-Z,’ it’s noted that, “‘Smoking is strictly forbidden in the stands, on all courts, and with around the Grounds at Roland Garros.'” This could come as a shock to many ticket holders.

The American No-smoke Organization lists policies about smoking for many major stadiums and leagues on its website. The Chicago Bears and its home venue of Soldier Field comply with the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, ‘smoking is prohibited in Soldier Field.’ Management also punishes violators. First-time offenders must exchange their ticket for a ‘Smoking Violation Card.’ If you don’t exchange the ticket, you are ejected. Get caught for the second time – ejected. If you continue to be in violation, you could forfeit season tickets. 

The guide for Roland Garros does not mention any consequences of smoking, but you have to guess that someone will light up. Whether les gendarmes de fumer at Roland Garros will crackdown on smokers is another story. But the iconic image of Europeans smoking at cafes, as they walk anywhere, in cars and just off metro rails will be difficult to stub out. The personal consequences of this ugly and smelly habit are well known to just about anyone with any modicum of awareness. 


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