The ongoing civil unrest has resulted in the cancellation of the Hong Kong Open with European Tour and Asian Tour officials feeling unable to guarantee the safety of players.
The 2019 Hong Kong Open was scheduled to be played at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from November 28, but it will now not happen until next year after European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley announced the postponement of the event which would have started the 2019/20 season.
Major winners Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed were among the big names set to tee it up in the tournament, which has been a regular event on the European Tour since 2001, but the civil unrest in the country means the tournament has been shelved for the time being.
“The decision has been taken due to the ongoing level of social unrest in Hong Kong,” Pelley said. “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 endeavouring to stage the tournament and we look forward to hopefully returning early next year.”
The decision follows the cancellation of the PGA Tour’s Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong, while horse racing at Happy Valley Racecourse, the Hong Kong Open tennis tournament, squash and other sports have also been forced to abandon planned events.
The tournament may yet happen with possible dates in early 2020 being discussed for the tournament which is run as both a European Tour and Asian Tour event.
Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and chief executive of the Asian Tour, said: “It is regrettable that the Hong Kong Open has to be postponed due to the ongoing unrest in the city.
“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 stabilises, we will be in a better position to sanction the 61st edition of the Hong Kong Open in the very near future.”
Hong Kong is currently in the grip of a lengthy civil unrest which first started in June over an extradition bill introduced from China in a move seen as interference in the former British colony from Beijing.
Englishman Aaron Rai is the defending champion of the Hong Kong Open, which has also been won by Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jiminez (four time), Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington since 2001.
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