WTA hopeful of 2020 events in China despite government diktat
By Susan Lingeswaran
The WTA, the organiser of the top professional women’s tennis tour, is still hopeful of holding the seven tournaments it has scheduled in China this year, despite authorities announcing the country will not stage any international sporting events for the remainder of 2020.
With the exception of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic test events, China's General Administration of Sport has ruled that, in principle, "no other international sports events will be held this year."
It cited “science and order” as the reason for issuing its plan, as it bids to prevent the coronavirus pandemic, which started in the country, returning via the arrival of international athletes.
However, the WTA remains confident its calendar will not be too badly affected, telling Sportcal today: “To our knowledge, the report that has been circulated regarding a principle on international sporting events in China does not represent a final decision.
“The WTA continues to work closely with our events in China and the Chinese Tennis Association and we will advise when we have more information.
“We remain on track with our decision timeline regarding the 2020 WTA Tour provisional calendar, which will be by the end of July.”
Last month, the WTA announced its provisional calendar for the rest of 2020, staring in Palermo, Italy on 3 August, but said tournaments were still subject to government approval, as well as medical advice and travel restrictions.
While China's announcement is a severe blow to a number of major sporting events, including motor racing’s Formula 1, the men’s ATP tennis tour and golf, which all have events scheduled for the rest of the year, the WTA will be particularly affected as it has seven tournaments in China scheduled in its provisional 2020 calendar.
Those tournaments include the China Open in Beijing from 12 to 18 October, the Wuhan Open and Jiangxi Open both running from 19 to 25 October, Zhengzhou Open from 26 October to 1 November, the Shenzhen WTA Finals from 8 to 15 November, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai from 17 to 22 November and the Guangzhou Open from 23 to 29 November.
The WTA Tour has added more tournaments in Asia to its scheduled in recent years as it looks to penetrate the market and increase its global footprint.
Last year, the WTA Finals, the elite season-ending event on the women’s tour, began its 10-year run in Shenzhen, China from 2019 through 2028 in a move that deepened the tour’s emphasis on China as a crucial market.
The men’s ATP Tour has four tournaments scheduled in China, including the Chengdu Open and Zhuhai Championship, both from 28 September to 4 October, the China Open from 5 to 11 October and the Shanghai Masters from 11 to 18 October.
Formula 1 is still in negotiations to secure a new date for its postponed Shanghai Grand Prix later on in the year. Last month, the chief of Shanghai’s Sports Bureau said Formula 1 was considering running two races in the city this year.
Golf’s men’s HSBC Champions event and women’s LPGA Shanghai have also been scheduled in their 2020 calendars.