Two main tennis tours—the ATP and WTA—canceled all their pending tournaments set to be held in China this year, including the WTA Final's, on Friday. This comes in the wake of China's ban on all international sporting events on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two weeks ago, China's highest sporting body, the General Administration of Sport, announced that only trial events for the Beijing Winter Olympics set to be held in 2022, will be permitted to be conducted.
Expressing his regret over the cancellation, Steve Simon, Chief Executive of WTA, announced in a statement, "We are extremely disappointed that our world-class events in China will not take place this year."
Conceding Defeat After Cancellation
The ATP and WTA had held out hope of getting exemptions for their events as they tried to play as many tournaments as possible in an already heavily disrupted season but released statements conceding defeat within minutes of each other.
The WTA had seven tournaments in China in its provisional calendar for the remainder of 2020, including the season-ending WTA Finals. The Tour resumes on Aug. 3 after five months with the Palermo Open in Sicily.
The ATP has canceled the Shanghai Masters, Asia's only ATP Masters 1000 tournament, the China Open in Beijing, an ATP 500 event, as well as the Chengdu Open and Zhuhai Championships, ATP 250 events. "It's with a heavy heart that we announce ATP tournaments will not be played in China this year," said ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi. "We respect the Chinese government's decision to do what's best for the country in response to the unprecedented global situation."
Looking Forward to 2021
The $14 million WTA Finals, contested by the top eight singles players and eight doubles teams in the world, moved to Shenzhen last year after being held in Singapore since 2014. "We'll look forward to 2021 and be back," Simon told Reuters this week when asked about the prospect of the Finals being canceled.
"We have other contingency plans in place for events ... to hopefully replace some of that business but we'll see where those discussions continue," added Simon. China has managed to reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases since the peak of the outbreak in the country in February but has been cautious about resuming sporting events.
The top-flight soccer league season will start after a five-month delay during the weekend, while China's top basketball league will allow some spectators to watch games in Shandong province from Sunday.
Shanghai is also scheduled to host an array of sporting events this year, including a round of the Formula One world championship and golf's WGC-HSBC Champions and Buick LPGA. The Badminton World Federation has scheduled the China Open in Changzhou from Sept. 15-20 and a tournament in Fuzhou from Nov. 3-8.
(With inputs from agencies)