SHANGHAI (AFP) - Women's tennis officials are still hopeful of holding tournaments in China this year, despite authorities calling off most international sports events in 2020 because of the coronavirus.
Thursday's (July 9) announcement from China's highest sporting body appears to be a severe blow to a number of major sports, particularly Formula One, tennis and golf.
The General Administration of Sport said that, except for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic test events "and other important events, in principle, no other international sports events will be held this year".
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) would be particularly badly affected because it has seven tournaments pencilled in for China in October-November in the proposed provisional calendar. That includes the richly symbolic Wuhan Open - in the city where the coronavirus emerged late last year, before spreading globally - and the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
Last month the WTA announced a proposed calendar for the rest of 2020, starting in Palermo on Aug 3, but said tournaments were subject to "governmental approval of sporting events", as well as medical advice and travel restrictions.
"To our knowledge, the report that has been circulated regarding a principle on international sporting events in China does not represent a final decision," WTA said in a statement.
"The WTA continues to work closely with our events in China and the CTA (Chinese Tennis Association) and we will advise when we have more information.
"We remain on track with our decision timeline regarding the 2020 WTA Tour provisional calendar, which will be by the end of July."