Tennis tournament on, but festivities canceled

MONACO -- Monaco called off its French league soccer game out of respect for Prince Rainier III while the Monte Carlo Masters canceled festivities at next week's tennis tournament.

The Monte Carlo Masters, the season's first major clay-court tournament, will proceed as planned Monday, but all accompanying social events are off because of the death Wednesday of the tiny principality's long-ruling monarch.

Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix remains set to run May 22, organizers said.

Condolences also were expressed by the International Olympic Committee -- Rainier was once an IOC member -- and track and field's governing body, which is headquartered in Monaco.

Monaco, in fourth place in the French first division, had been scheduled to face second-place Lille on Sunday at Stade Louis II, the stadium where Rainier regularly used to watch his favorite team. The game was reset for April 29.

The Monte Carlo Masters said Thursday's gala for players, VIPs and media will not be held. Prince Albert II, who succeeded his father, usually plays Bjorn Borg or Henri Leconte in an exhibition match, but that "will no doubt be canceled, too," tournament spokeswoman Pamela Richardson said.

Rainier, 81, took the throne in 1949 and had been Europe's longest-serving monarch. There was no immediate word on whether the tennis tournament will hold a ceremony in his honor.

"For years Rainier was actively involved in the tournament until illness prevented him coming on a regular basis," Richardson said. "The royal family has been a pillar of the tournament."

The IOC called Rainier a "man of courage and honor." Rainier was an IOC member in 1949 and 1950 before fully devoting his time to his royal duties.

"Prince Rainier, through his work and activities, immeasurably contributed to give Monaco wider credibility far beyond the sphere of the principality's famous sports events, but as the home of numerous sports organizations and the international meeting place for the promotion of sport and its values," an IOC statement said.

Prince Albert, an IOC member, has been on Monaco's bobsled team at the last five Winter Olympics.

The IAAF said Rainier was largely instrumental in establishing the organization's headquarters in Monaco in 1994.

"With the prince's death we have lost a dear friend and inspiration, whose memory will forever be honored," IAAF president Lamine Diack said.