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Sports and cultural events canceled due to demonstrations in Hong Kong

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The Hong Kong Tennis Tournament on Friday was the victim of collateral damage to the political crisis and was added to the long list of sporting and cultural events delayed or canceled by demonstrations.

The organizers of the Hong Kong session, scheduled for early October, announced the postponement to an unspecified date, citing the “current situation” in the former British colony.

Hong Kong is going through its worst political crisis since its return to China in 1997, with demonstrations and almost daily moves that have sometimes turned into violent confrontations between extremists and security forces.

“After in-depth discussions with our key partners, we have decided that the holding of the tournament in a calm atmosphere will be better at a later date,” the Hong Kong Tennis Federation said in a statement.

– Singapore Luxury Summit –

Hong Kong, one of the most prestigious sporting events, attracts big names every year, with Venus Williams, Angelic Kerber, Christina Mladenovic or Caroline Wozniacki, who won the tournament in 2016.

The course is organized on Victoria Park stadiums, which was the site of huge rallies.

Demonstrations began in June to protest a controversial bill that would allow the extradition of wanted men to China, which protesters saw as a Chinese attempt to restrict freedoms in the city.

After months of refusal to give in to the demonstrators, the city’s chief executive Kari Lam decided last week to withdraw the extradition project, but protesters considered the decision insufficient and too late. Huge crowds of protesters took to the streets over the weekend.

The demonstrations began to affect the economy of the city, which was already affected by the trade war between China and the United States and undermined Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe city.

An increasing number of artists are canceling or postponing concerts, as was the case for South Korean singer Kamg Daniel or South African Trevor Noah, one of the most famous comedians and performers in the United States.

The organizers of the World Welfare Summit decided to move to Singapore.

– Canceling Matilda’s musical play –

On Thursday, the producers of Matilda, based on a children’s novel, announced the postponement for a month before the launch of the first shows.

The theater, which was supposed to be staged, is near the headquarters of the police general, which has frequently seen clashes between police and extremist demonstrators.

“Unfortunately, the instability in Hong Kong in the past 14 weeks has affected ticket sales and, most importantly, we cannot guarantee the security and well-being of our international team, which has a large number of children,” said James Kandall, general manager of Lynch Books Theater Productions.

The cancellation is a nightmare for a city where the tourism sector has already been hit by demonstrations.

Last month, Hong Kong recorded a 40 percent drop in the number of tourists compared with August 2018, Finance Minister Paul Chan said recently. Hotel occupancy rates have halved, reflecting negatively on shops and restaurants.

Cathay Pacific said Wednesday it had reduced its August booking by 11.3 per cent on a year. Last month saw protests at the airport that resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

After three weeks of near-daily demonstrations, many protesters are convinced that influencing Hong Kong financially is the only way to subdue the pro-Beijing executive.

The movement is still able to mobilize even if it retreated to June.

According to the Sino-British Declaration of 1984 which led to its return to China, Hong Kong still enjoys exceptional freedoms that do not exist in the rest of China.

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