HONG KONG • The restart of golf's Asian Tour was thrown into jeopardy yesterday after the Panasonic Open became the latest tournament to be cancelled, leaving just one event scheduled for the rest of this year.
Officials blamed "disruptions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic" for the scrapping of the event that was scheduled from Sept 24-27 at the Joyo Country Club in Kyoto, Japan.
But, with the borders all but closed to non-citizens on top of a surge in new infections across the country, the crisis has rendered the tournament as unplayable.
As of yesterday, Japan has recorded over 33,000 coronavirus cases in total, including just a little more than 1,000 deaths.
After the Taiwan Masters was axed last month, only the Sept 10-13 Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea remains on this year's schedule, which has been frozen since early March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Asian Tour commissioner and chief executive Cho Minn Thant called the latest cancellation "unfortunate", lamenting the "challenging circumstances the world is experiencing in 2020".
In a statement on its website, the Tour added that it will continue to work in unison with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) and the Panasonic Corporation for the next and future editions of the tournament.
The circuit has been unable to join United States-based PGA Tour and the European Tour in returning to play.
Only four Asian Tour events have been possible so far this year, including January's Singapore Open, compared to 23 played last year.
Only one event remains scheduled on the Asian Tour this year, the Sept 10-13 Shinhan Donghae Open in South Korea.