China to Cancel All International Tennis Tournaments in 2020

(Source: Lu Zhao/Pandaily)

China has decided to call off several tennis competitions that are scheduled in October and November in various Chinese cities in 2020.

Following the decision made by China’s General Administration of Sport, a total of 11 international tennis tournaments administered by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) scheduled in 2020 have now been canceled.

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The WTA acknowledged the cancellations in its press release: “Due to the recent decision by China’s General Administration of Sport, all seven WTA tournaments that were scheduled in China on WTA’s 2020 provisional calendar will not be held.”

Those tournaments were scheduled in cities such as Beijing, Wuhan, Nanchang, Zhengzhou, and Guangzhou. The majority of those cities are either the nation’s capital or provincial capitals.

Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman and CEO expressed his disappointment on the decision made by the Chinese authorities: “We are extremely disappointed that our world-class events in China will not take place this year. We do however respect the decision that has been made and are eager to return to China as soon as possible next season.”

The ATP also canceled four men’s events. The association’s press release claimed that the Chinese government banned all international sporting events in the country in 2020: “The directive, issued earlier this month by the General Administration of Sport in China, mandates that no international sporting events will proceed in China for the remainder of the year. As a result, the Rolex 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, will not take place in 2020.”

China has not yet lifted its travel bans for the majority of foreign passport holders that have been in place since March. A few foreign athletes were granted permission to enter the country since the travel ban, but at the increased risk of spreading the virus. Former NBA player MarShon Brooks who now plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to China earlier this week.

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The New York Times calls the decision from the Chinese government a big blow to Women’s Tennis. And in China, the only ongoing professional sports tournament is the country’s top-level basketball league, the CBA. The Chinese Super League (CSL) is scheduled to return in late July. On July 25, Guangzhou Evergrande will face Shanghai Shenhua to mark the beginning of an unprecedented CSL season.

Restarting sports competitions are rather difficult in China. It took almost five months for the CBA to return after its suspension in late January. The CSL went back and forth several times before finally confirming to restart in late July. Chinese authorities set up stringent requirements for public events to resume. Provincial capitals are not allowed to host any sports events. The CBA picked Qingdao and Dongguan, two cities that are not provincial capitals, for its competitions. The CSL will be proceeding with their tournaments in Dalian and Suzhou.

The CBA and CSL are currently scheduled to play without any spectators. CBA will start to let frontline workers into the arena starting July 26. Local authorities will also allow the league to sell tickets starting July 31.

Competitions administered by the ATP and WTA have been on hold since March due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both tours are aiming to resume in August. However, the ATP decided to cancel its tournament scheduled in Washington, USA on Aug. 13. The WTA wishes to proceed with its scheduled competition in Palermo, Italy on Aug. 3. Both associations plan to adjust their schedules to proceed with their postponed competitions later this year.