Chances of any professional tennis tournaments taking place in Asia this year is looking increasingly unlikely with the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo becoming the latest event to be axed.
Japanese officials confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the event has been cancelled over safety concerns with fears of a second spike in COVID-19 cases in the country later this year. Making it the third tennis event in Japan to be cancelled after the WTA Hana-Cupid Open and ATP Rakuten Open.
The Premier event has been set to get underway during the week commencing November 2nd after being delayed from its original date of September. It is the first time the Pan Pacific Open has been cancelled since its birth back in 1984. Outside of China, Tokyo is the only Asian city to host a Premier event on the women’s Tour. Last year it offered a prize money pool of $823,000.
“The Executive Committee looked at every possible way to make this tournament happen, including the idea of holding matches without audiences or restricting admissions in order to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved,” tournament organizers said in a statement.
“However, after a series of deliberations, the Executive Committee made a heartrending decision to rule out the postponement, and concluded that the cancellation of the tournament was the best decision in the interest of public health, especially in light of the concern about the second wave of infection spreading in Japan.”
The announcement comes less than a week after the WTA and ATP officially cancelled all their tournaments set to be played in China due to a ruling by the government. A huge blow for women’s tennis which had planned to stage seven events in the country, including the year-end WTA Finals. Last year the China swing offered roughly $30 million in prize money.
Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka is the reigning champion in Tokyo after powering her way to the title without dropping a set in 2019. The triumph made Osaka the first Japanese player to win the event since Kimiko Date back in 1995. Other previous winners include Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova.
Following the removal of Tokyo from the Calendar, only three WTA tournaments have so far been given a provisional the green light to take place after the French Open. They are in Seoul, Linz and Moscow.