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On the occasion of the Rolex Paris Masters held at the Accor Arena in Paris, the French Tennis Federation allowed more than fourteen sick children to discover the backstage of the tournament through a telepresence robot.  Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka and Daniil Medvedev took part in the game and came to chat with the young people connected via telepresence.

Telepresence to conquer tennis

Telepresence robots are now starting to be a well-known technology in the world of sports. First of all, Formula 1 allows children, sometimes hospitalized for long periods of time, to be in the heart of the paddock and to meet the drivers of their favorite teams. But it is in soccer that telepresence has become an essential means for teams to interact with young people prevented by illness from attending matches. Indeed, many soccer club foundations are equipped with this device, such as the Barça Foundation, the OL Foundation, or the Paris Saint Germain. Last June, the Olympique Lyonnais provided its BeamPro® telepresence robot, customized in the team’s colors, to the Open Sopra Steria in Lyon, in order to allow hospitalized children from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Lyon to experience the tournament behind the scenes. A first in the world of tennis.

© Antoine Merlet

2022 Rolex Paris Masters: the FFT goes to the net in favor of inclusion

This year, the French Tennis Federation wished to make the tournament accessible to all, including children prevented by illness. From Sunday, October 30 to Thursday, November 3, no less than 15 children, hospitalized in Lyon and Paris, were able to meet the greatest tennis players during one of the three daily sessions organized. Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Simon met Marius, Arthur and Jessy… connected in telepresence robots around the tennis courts during training sessions and press conferences.

Implemented by Premiers de Cordée, APPEL and Imagine for Margo associations, this initiative has put a smile on the faces of young people isolated by an illness. From their hospital room, the telepresence robot represents their avatar that they can control remotely using their computer.

A real child’s play that has a significant impact on the beneficiaries who have the opportunity to go into spaces that are inaccessible to the public and thus experience a privileged exchange, one-on-one with the greatest tennis players in the world.

An initiative noticed by the press

In the corridors of the tournament, the robot attracted the interest of the media. If connected tennis fans were able to share magical moments with the tennis players of the Rolex Paris Masters, it was also an opportunity for the FFT to highlight the societal actions it is leading.

Tennis Actu came back on the actions of solidarity, inclusiveness and environment which were set up by the Rolex Paris Masters and the FFT in Bercy. The telepresence visit of the backstage of the tournament by sick children appears next to the Ecological Fresco of Tennis or the solidarity ticketing during the qualifications. In addition, Salim Azouzi, Director of Strategic Relations at Awabot, answered questions from Sport Buzz Business on how telepresence robots are deployed in the field of sports.

French radio station RTL interviewed Cédric Pioline, former tennis player and now director of the Rolex Paris Masters, about this 2.0 initiative: “I think it’s great for children who are in situations that don’t allow them to be mobile to be able to keep this link. In any case, it makes memories, beautiful encounters and I hope it gives a good vibe, a little bit of happiness”.

The tournament director also revealed the backstage of the tournament to Myke, a teenager hospitalized in Paris, during a report broadcast on the Eurosport TV channel. From the quiet room, to the game room, to the players’ lounge where the players deposit their racket, Myke went with Cédric Pioline in the spaces where only the tennis players and the members of the organization can penetrate. The objective of the FFT and the Rolex Paris Masters was “to make the event live from the inside to the hospitalized children, thanks to technology”. An initiative appreciated by the beneficiaries but also by the players who willingly accepted to exchange with the children.

Telepresence robots bring a touch of happiness to the daily lives of hospitalized children. And this is not only true for tennis courts! You have a telepresence project to promote inclusion? Contact us!