HONGKONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong Open golf tournament, which was postponed last month amid violence from escalating anti-government protests, will go ahead in January but without sanctioning by the European Tour, organisers said on Friday.
The former British colony has been racked by six months of pro-democracy protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn China extradition bill, but which widened into calls for greater democratic freedoms.
The tournament, which had been scheduled to be played from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, would now be held at Hong Kong Golf Club from Jan. 9-Jan. 12.
“While we are unable to sanction this edition of the Hong Kong Open due to other tournament commitments, we are delighted to retain an integral role in staging one of Hong Kong’s best-loved sporting events,” European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said in a statement.
“We very much look forward to returning next November when the 62nd Hong Kong Open will kick off our 2021 European Tour season.”
The 120-player field event will be sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association.
“We are pleased to announce the 61st Hong Kong Open will now be the curtain raiser for our 2020 season,” Cho Minn Thant, the chief executive of the Asian Tour, said.
“As our season opening event, there will be an undoubtedly strong Asian Tour field with players eager to get their seasons off to a fast start.”
Several other sporting events, including the Hong Kong Tennis Open and the Hong Kong Open squash championships, were cancelled due to the civil unrest in the region.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)