Hong Kong Open postponed by European Tour due to civil unrest

20 November 2019, 09:43 | Updated: 20 November 2019, 11:03

The European Tour has postponed next week's Hong Kong Open due to the ongoing civil unrest in the city.

The protests began in early June over a now-shelved extradition bill to mainland China that many saw as Beijing's creeping interference on legal and other rights guaranteed to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned under Chinese rule in 1997.

The movement has since expanded to include other demands, including direct elections for the city's leaders and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.

Several sporting events have been cancelled due to the unrest, including the PGA Tour-China's Clearwater Bay Open and the Hong Kong Open tennis and squash tournaments, and the first event on the European Tour's 2019-20 calendar has now become another casualty.

The tournament could be rescheduled for early next year and European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a statement: "The decision has been taken due to the ongoing level of social unrest in Hong Kong.

"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 comes just over a week after Pelley insisted that players and staff would not be at risk, and that he was "comfortable with the tournament going ahead", although he did add that the European Tour would continue to monitor the situation on a day-by-day basis.

England's Aaron Rai clinched his maiden professional title in Hong Kong last year, edging out Matt Fitzpatrick by a shot.