Pro-democracy protests force postponement of Hong Kong Open

Pro-democracy protests force postponement of Hong Kong Open
Spectators hold up placards in reference to the recent protests in the city at the start of the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier between Hong Kong and Iran at Hong Kong Stadium on Tuesday. AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong's premier women's tennis event scheduled for October has been postponed due to the pro-democracy protests, organisers announced on Friday.

The city is witnessing a fourth month of sometimes violent protests sparked by a bill that would have drawn the former British colony closer to the Chinese legal system. The bill was withdrawn last week, but the protests are continuing.

The organisers said they are in active discussions with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), the women's tour governing body, to identify an alternate week for hosting the event.

"In light of the present situation, Hong Kong Tennis Association and the WTA are announcing a postponement of the 2019 Hong Kong Tennis Open. The event will no longer take place during 5-13 October," organisers said in a statement.

Former women's top-ranked players such as Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber have participated in previous years in the event, which forms part of the WTA International series.

"The Open is the flagship event on our annual calendar and one of the most popular international sporting events in the city, attracting thousands of local fans and overseas travellers every year.

"However, after extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time," the organisers said.

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