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13.09.2019 Tennis

Tennis chiefs cancel Hong Kong Open over security fears

By Paul Myers - RFI
Karim Jaafar/AFP
LISTEN SEP 13, 2019
Karim Jaafar/AFP

Organisers of the Hong Kong Open on Friday cancelled the tournament citing security concerns following months of protests over the alleged erosion of freedoms under China's rule.

"In light of the present situation, Hong Kong Tennis Association and the WTA are announcing a postponement of the 2019 Hong Kong Tennis Open," a Hong Kong Tennis Association statement said

"After extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time," it added.

A women's competition was first held at Victoria Park in Hong Kong in 1980. In 2014, the tournament was upgraded to a WTA International event.

Past winners include former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic.

This year's edition had been scheduled for 5-13 October. But with Victoria Park having emerged as one of the main gathering points for the mass protests, organisers decided the safety of players and spectators could be jeopardized.

Millions have taken part in the rallies, which have occasionally ended in violent confrontations between police and demonstrators.

The unrest was triggered by a bill, since scrapped, to allow extraditions to mainland China.

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