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Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet compete during the mixed doubles quarter-final at the BWF World Championships in Tokyo last month. Photo: AP

Badminton officials cancel Hong Kong Open over city’s strict coronavirus policy, move tournament to September 2023

  • Tournament was expected to be held from November 8 to 13 at the Hong Kong Coliseum
  • Officials cite need for closed loop as reason behind decision to cancel event

Badminton officials have opted to cancel this year’s Hong Kong Open because of the city’s strict approach to the coronavirus.

The tournament, which was expected to run from November 8 to 13 at the city’s Coliseum venue, has now been moved to September next year.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Badminton Association said that it had been left with no option but to cancel the event, because of the need for players to isolate on arrival, which they did not have to do in the rest of the world.

“The HKBA has been proactively working with the Badminton World Federation [BWF] and government authorities in recent months to strive for the resumption of the Hong Kong Open Badminton Championships in accordance with the government’s anti-epidemic measures,” the governing body said.

“Although the government updated its isolation and quarantine arrangements in early August, over 400 overseas players and officials are required to train and compete for eight to 10 days in the form of an isolation bubble.

Angus Ng Ka-long competes during the men’s singles first-round against Ginting Anthony Sinisuka of Indonesia at the 2019 Hong Kong Open. Photo: Xinhua

“Since the Covid-19 protocol and quarantine arrangements between Hong Kong and other World Tour events are different, the board of the HKBA regretfully decided that there is no viable option other than to cancel the Hong Kong Open 2022.”

Hong Kong badminton officials went on to apologise for any inconvenience caused, thanked the government for its support, and said they would “continue to strive toward our next Hong Kong Open”.

It is the third year in a row that the Hong Kong Open, one of the city’s flagship sporting events, has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

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“In light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation and complexities of quarantine measures in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Badminton Association had been working closely with government authorities to seek special approval on easing some restrictions for event participants,” an official statement from the Badminton World Federation said on Thursday said.

“However, with quarantine restrictions still required for all overseas visitors, the HKBA concluded there was no other viable option than to cancel the tournament”.

The Super 500 event on the HSBC World Tour – which has a total purse US$400,000 – was set to take place the week after the Macau Open, but that tournament has also been cancelled.

The BWF website shows both the Hong Kong Open and Macau Open have been cancelled this year.

Organisers in Macau informed the Badminton World Federation that “there was no possibility to conduct their tournament this year after considering all travel and entry restrictions into Macau, and the ongoing health prevention measures in place”, the sport’s governing body said in a statement.

Hong Kong head badminton coach Tim He Yiming said that many overseas players complained when they took part in July’s Taiwan Open, which was held under a closed loop system.

Riot police fire rounds of tear gas outside the Hong Kong Coliseum – site of the 2019 Hong Kong Badminton Open. Photo: Chan Kin-wa

“If the Hong Kong Open goes ahead under the same conditions, there are bound to be a lot of negative comments on social media which will not help the tournament that has built a good reputation over the years,” coach He said.

“There is little we can do under such circumstances and we can only hope everything will be back to normal when we have the 2023 Hong Kong Open.”

The difficulties experienced in staging the Hong Kong Open have seemingly affected its status. The 2023 tournament will remain a Super 500 event on the world tour while the Singapore Open and India Open have both been promoted to Super 750 level.

“There is no Hong Kong Open for three years and there is no way the world body is going to promote it to a higher level,” a badminton source told the Post.

Hong Kong’s Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet compete during their mixed doubles quarter-final against Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Lohau at the BWF World Championships in Tokyo. Photo: AP

Meanwhile, Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet set up a clash against third seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan in the quarter-finals of the Japan Open in Osaka on Thursday.

The Hong Kong pair secured a straight sets victory, beating Japanese duo Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo 21-18, 21-14 in the round of 16.

Tang and Tse – Hong Kong’s last remaining hope in the US$750,000 tournament – were denied a spot on the podium at last summer’s Olympic Games when they lost to Watanabe and Higashino in the bronze medal playoff.

“Tang and Tse have been in impressive form so far but it will be a tough encounter for them against the Japanese pair,” coach He said.