Hong Kong is keen to see the return of snooker to the city later this year, but there appears to be little prospect of China appearing as a major destination on the professional circuit next season.
Neil Robertson claimed the 2017 Hong Kong Masters with a 6-3 win over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final at Queen Elizabeth Stadium with the city's Billiard Sports Control Council apparently keen for interested sponsors to organise the invitational tournament after a five-year absence.
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But hopes of a provisional date of August 3-7 becoming reality depends upon the situation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic with the enforcement of social distancing measures set to torpedo the proposed return of fans to support local icons Marco Fu, former Grand Prix winner, and three-time women's world champion Ng On-yee.
The Hong Kong Masters was a regular feature of the calendar between 1983 and 1988 with Steve Davis and Jimmy White winning the event.
It briefly returned under the guise of the Hong Kong Challenge in 1990 and 1991 with James Wattana and Stephen Hendry triumphant before Robertson collected the top prize of £100,000 five years ago.
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“It will probably be under the same format as the one in 2017 which attracted a very good crowd at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium," the South China Morning Post report.
“We want to get an event organisers to work with us as time is running short with four months left. Of course, no one can confirm anything at this stage even the date as the pandemic situation is still unstable.
“If the government keeps the existing social-distancing measures, it will be very difficult to get spectators in and we definitely have to postpone the event. But we have to start planning and work with the proposed date and at the same time monitor the situation closely.”
With major cities in China forced into lockdown due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the prospect of elite tournaments returning to several popular cue sport destinations in East Asia, including Shanghai, Daqing and Guangzhou after a three-year absence, appear to be bleak.
The last event held in China was the World Open in November 2019 in Yushan with Judd Trump completing a 10-5 win over Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh before the 2020 China Open in Beijing was cancelled due to the outbreak of the global pandemic.
The provisional calendar for the first half of the new 2022/23 season has a familiar UK and European theme, but the Six-red World Championship in Thailand's capital Bangkok is set to return in early September with Stephen Maguire completing an 8-6 final victory over John Higgins in 2019.
The Masters, German Masters, Shoot Out, Welsh Open, Turkish Masters, World Grand Prix, Players Championship, Tour Championship and World Championship are all set to feature in the second half of the new season.
The season begins on 28 June with stage one of the Championship League, the event won by David Gilbert with his maiden ranking tournament victory last year.
The reworked British Open with a random FA Cup-style draw has been pushed back to late September with Mark Williams defending the title after a 6-4 win over Gary Wilson last August. The final in Milton Keynes has also been increased to the best of 19 frames.
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Provisional 2022/23 World Snooker Tour Calendar
- 16–June 5: Qualifying School – Ponds Forge, Sheffield
- 1-15: Asia and Oceania Qualifying School – Bangkok, Thailand
- 28-July 1: Championship League Stage One – Leicester
- 4-7: Championship League Stage Two – Leicester
- 11-14: Championship League Stage Three – Leicester
- 15-17: European Masters qualifiers – Leicester
- 18-21: Championship League Stage Four – Leicester
- 22-24: European Masters qualifiers – Leicester
- 25-29: Championship League Stage Five – Leicester
- 3-7: Hong Kong Masters – to be confirmed
- 9-14: British Open qualifiers – tbc
- 16-21: European Masters – Furth, Germany
- 23-28: Northern Ireland Open qualifiers – tbc
- 5-10: Six-red World Championship – Bangkok, Thailand
- 12-18: Potential invitation event – tbc
- 26-Oct 2: British Open – Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
- 4-9: Scottish Open qualifiers – tbc
- 16-23: Northern Ireland Open – Waterfront Arena, Belfast
- 25-30: English Open qualifiers – tbc
- 31-Nov 6: Champion of Champions – tbc
- 8-20: UK Championship – Barbican Theatre, York
- 21-26: German Masters qualifiers – tbc
- 28-Dec 4: Scottish Open – tbc
- 6-9: Championship League Stage One – tbc
- 12-18: English Open – Brentwood
- 19-22: Championship League Stage Two – tbc
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