Will WTA Finals be cancelled due to security concerns?

The prestigious WTA Finals, which is coming to Beijing this week, may have to cancel parts of the tournament, after Tianjin police confirmed an unidentified threatening letter was received that warned of World Tour…

Will WTA Finals be cancelled due to security concerns?

The prestigious WTA Finals, which is coming to Beijing this week, may have to cancel parts of the tournament, after Tianjin police confirmed an unidentified threatening letter was received that warned of World Tour security concerns in China.

To say the least, this is the kind of incident you don’t need to hear about right now, as the US markets dive as the drumbeat of headlines related to the partial shutdown of the federal government escalates. Still, it’s a timely reminder that we are back to a witch hunt mentality in a nation that still seems to struggle with admitting that its leaders are facing real problems.

“WTA Tour and host Tianjin’s Genzon Sports are confident that the tournament will be successful,” said WTA tournament director Chris Kermode. “Tianjin is a great host city, fantastic fans and a stadium that can’t be beat. We are confident of the security measures we have in place, and the tournament will run as planned.”

Peng Shuai has been MIA ever since officials at SAP Center in San Jose, California discovered her passport was missing and found it at the customs gate when they reported the 25-year-old missing Tuesday morning.

Before she disappeared, Peng had been rounding out the top five of the WTA rankings. For many years she has been one of the stronger countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, but she’s never been at the top, which was a big deal until the Chinese ladies had very strong showings at Grand Slams.

Now, that parity is fading fast, and that is reflected in the state of their WTA finals preparations. Three of the five players are absent from the championship, leaving Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and Japan’s Naomi Osaka the only ones in Beijing. All three were very impressive in San Jose.

All three took the WTA Finals field by storm a year ago, with three big wins in Beijing. With all three of those missing from the field, it will be nearly impossible for all three to beat each other.

For the fans that will be going to the WTA Finals, it’s a great disappointment. Just last year in Toronto, it was the first time in a very long time that a WTA event was being held in China. It drew 30,000 fans to a tournament that was won by Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, which made for a very unique experience. There were women from Kyrgyzstan, the most populous nation in Central Asia, playing at a major tournament. There were people from Yemen cheering with Americans and Swedes, and it was truly something.

I would be lying if I said I was glad the WTA Finals went to China, but I would also be crazy if I didn’t say that I was very honored to be a part of it. I can’t take credit for any of it, I’m glad that I was a small part of something so special.

What I can take credit for is having pitched it to the WTA and having a fan-friendly event so that every player that traveled to Asia would have an enjoyable time. It would be great if the WTA Finals can still make that happen.

The WTA Finals traditionally is a chance for the ladies to play spectacular tennis. They get a full week to recharge their batteries and learn how to compete at a high level in a big tournament. As we saw from the championships in Tokyo, it can have a serious effect on a player’s ranking. It’s what makes the event so special.

So far, though, it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen this week. Now, the WTA won’t use that as an excuse; it will claim that security concerns are causing Peng Shuai’s absense, but they won’t deny that they would like to have her competing.

No, it’s in China. Beijing loves hosting the WTA Finals. This is a nation that knows how to do big events. As a result, everyone is excited to be there. Peng was supposed to represent China at the opening ceremony on Thursday night, but now that’s off the table. Now, will she be allowed to be at the event? That’s something we’ll never know.

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