The European Tour and the Asian Tour announced Nov. 20 that next week's planned Hong Kong Open has been postponed -- the result of an increase in violence against protesters and medical volunteers in Hong Kong.
Students in the island province of China have been protesting for months regarding proposed changes to mainland China's relationship with what was a British colony until 1997. The students allege the Chinese government is reneging on their promises to the British regarding Hong Kong's relative independence and governance apart from the rest of China. The protests have become increasingly violent as police have more often intervened.
After initially affirming a commitment to present the tournament, the European Tour and Asian Tour agreed to postpone the event after the increased violent nature of the protests.
“The decision has been taken due to the ongoing level of social unrest in Hong Kong,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in a statement. “As the safety of our players, staff, stakeholders and everyone involved in each and every one of our tournaments around the world is our top priority, we feel this is the correct, but unfortunate, course of action.
“The European Tour thanks everyone at the Hong Kong Golf Association, the Hong Kong Golf Club and all persons associated with the Hong Kong Open for their hard work in endeavoring to stage the tournament, and we look forward to hopefully returning early next year.”
Aaron Rai was set to be defending champion of the event, with the likes of Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson previously committing to playing the event.
“It is regrettable that the Hong Kong Open has to be postponed due to the ongoing unrest in the city," Asian Tour commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant said. "The unpredictability of the current situation in Hong Kong makes it very challenging to sanction the tournament especially with the safety of everyone of utmost importance. However, we are optimistic that once the situation in Hong Kong stabilizes, we will be in a better position to sanction the 61st edition of the Hong Kong Open in the very near future.”
A replacement date has not yet been announced for the tournament, but the European Tour potentially has a few open dates from which they could slot the postponed tournament.
The European Tour schedule originally had two tournaments planned for next week's season debut. The Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the other scheduled event which is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour, will go on as scheduled.