Event cancellations mount in protest-wracked Hong Kong

The cancellations are compounding misery for Hong Kong's tourism sector which has been battered by the protests.
The cancellations are compounding misery for Hong Kong's tourism sector which has been battered by the protests.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • One of Hong Kong's most prestigious sporting tournaments has become the latest victim of the huge protests convulsing the city as a growing roster of events and entertainment acts pull out of the financial hub.

Organisers of the WTA Hong Kong Open women's tennis tournament said they were postponing next month's competition because of the "present situation" after months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

"After extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time," the Hong Kong Tennis Association said in a statement yesterday.

Hong Kong's protests were triggered by alarm over a controversial Bill, since scrapped, to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Millions of people have taken part in demonstrations over the last three months which have morphed into calls for democracy and complaints against the erosion of freedoms under Beijing's rule.

Street battles between riot police and small groups of hardcore protesters have become a weekly occurrence, hammering the already struggling economy and undermining the city's reputation for stability.

In recent weeks, a growing number of stars have cancelled or postponed events, from prominent K-pop acts such as Daniel Kang and GOT7 to the popular US-based comedian Trevor Noah.

A large global wellness summit also moved its location to Singapore because of the unrest.

 
 
 

On Thursday, producers behind the award-winning musical Matilda - based on the children's novel by Roald Dahl - announced they were scrapping a planned month-long run in the city that was supposed to kick off next week. The theatre where the production was meant to take place is near the city's police headquarters, which has become a frequent flashpoint between protesters and the authorities.

Mr James Cundall, chief executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, which was bringing the show to Hong Kong, said "the 14 weeks of civil unrest in Hong Kong have decimated ticket sales".

The International Tennis Federation told Agence France-Presse that a Davis Cup tie between Hong Kong and Taiwan planned for this weekend would still go ahead.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'Event cancellations mount in protest-wracked city'. Print Edition | Subscribe