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Hong Kong Tennis Open postponed amid ongoing protests..!

2019-09-15 7666

The 2019 Hong Kong Tennis Open (HKTO) has been postponed after organizers claimed they would be unable to guarantee "a smooth running of the tournament" amid ongoing protests in the city.

Hong Kong has been disrupted for almost 15 weeks by increasingly violent demonstrations, which were initially sparked by an extradition bill.

The bill, which would have enabled suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, has now been withdrawn but protests have continued.

The tournament was due to take place between October 5-13 and was due to be held in Victoria Park, which has become the rallying point for many of Hong Kong's anti-government marches.

"As the winner of the WTA International event of the year award in 2018, we strive to maintain a high standard of the event for all participants, players and the fans in particular," a statement from the HKTO said.

"However, after extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time."

Protesters have targeted transport to and from Hong Kong International Airport in recent weeks, with numerous flights canceled over a two-day period in early August.

And because the competition -- which was won last year by Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska -- attracts "thousands of local fans and overseas travellers", the organizers made the decision to push back its start date.

Yastremska poses with the champion's trophy after winning the Hong Kong Open in 2018.

The HKTO's postponement is the second high-profile sporting event in Hong Kong to be affected by the civil unrest after the Hong Kong ASTC Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup and the Asian Aquathlon Championships was canceled earlier in September.

The announcement comes ahead of another weekend of protests, which started in June after the Hong Kong parliament proposed the new extradition law.

Many Hong Kong native's, however, saw this as a sign of increasing mainland interference in the city's affairs, resulting in the mass protests, eventually causing leader Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill.

However, demonstrations have continued and now include demands for full democracy and an inquiry into police actions during the protests.