The Shanghai Masters and three other men’s tournaments in China will not be held this year due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country, the ATP Tour said on Thursday.
China hosted the Winter Olympics under strict health protocols in February but almost every other international sporting event in the country this year has been cancelled or postponed. ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi told Reuters last month that the prospects of the 2022 China swing were bleak.
“This marks the third year of cancellation for the ATP’s China swing, typically hosted in September and October and last staged in 2019, prior to the pandemic,” the men’s governing body said in a statement.
As of July 20, mainland China had confirmed 228,180 cases of COVID-19 with symptoms since the pandemic first struck in December 2019. Although the number is small by global standards, authorities in China are sticking to a stringent zero-COVID policy, while other countries have relaxed their rules and chosen to live with the virus.
The French Open and Wimbledon were recently held without any health restrictions and it was unlikely players would have agreed to go to China if there was any period of isolation involved. The women’s tour has no events scheduled in China for 2022 as the WTA works to find a resolution to the standoff with China over Peng Shuai.
Former doubles world number one Peng’s wellbeing became a concern for the WTA after she posted a message on social media last November accusing China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
In addition to the October 9-16 Shanghai Masters, China was scheduled to host the Chengdu Open and Zhuhai Championships, both starting on September 26, and the China Open from October 3-9 in Beijing. To fill the hole in the calendar left by the cancellation of the China events, the men’s body said it has granted single-year event licenses to six ATP 250 tournaments.
“As a global sport we continue to manage the impacts of the pandemic,” Gaudenzi said. “Event cancellations are an unfortunate reality, and we wish our affected tournament members and fans well. “At the same time, it’s incredibly encouraging to have many great cities step up to host ATP Tour tennis this season”, he added.