Tennis bosses ditch St. Petersburg tournament after 25 years

The ATP revealed the event will be moved from the northern Russian city

Tennis officials have announced the relocation of an ATP tour event from St. Petersburg to Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, in a move which Russian officials have denied has any connection with new sanctions imposed on the country.

The ATP formally announced its calendar for the second half of 2022 in a press release on Wednesday, noting that the St. Petersburg event would be shifted.

“The calendar also includes the relocation of the St. Petersburg Open (ATP 250) to Nur-Sultan, following more than 25 editions of the event,” read an ATP statement.  

“The Kazakh capital city played host to its first ATP tournament in 2020, issued as a single-year licence to expand playing opportunities and explore new markets for professional tennis, before hosting a second event in 2021.

“The ATP continues to take a fluid approach to the calendar and the schedule remains subject to change. Any further updates will be communicated in due course.”

Russian officials have denied that the step has anything to do with the new sanctions imposed on Russia by countries including the United States.

The St. Petersburg Open has been held since 1995 and past winners include the likes of Marat Safin, Andy Murray, and current world number two Daniil Medvedev. 

The schedule change for 2022 comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine, after Moscow formally recognized the breakaway Donbass regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).  

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “special operation” in the region after being asked for assistance by local leaders to counter an increase in “Ukrainian aggression.”

The step has been condemned by Ukraine and its Western allies, although Putin stressed that Russian actions are intended to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine, and that there are “no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.”

The tensions have led to speculation of consequences in the sporting world.

Reports in the Western media claim that European football governing body UEFA is set to strip St. Petersburg of the Champions League final due to be held in the city in May, although Russian officials say no discussions have been held on the matter.

Elsewhere, the new wave of US sanctions included adding Russian football club CSKA Moscow to the list. The club is majority-owned by the state-run development and investment agency Vnesheconombank (VEB).

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