The second Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain, scheduled for January next year as part of the Desert Swing, was cancelled Monday because of concerns about unrest in the country.
The events of the past five months led to the decision being taken by the European Tour and tournament organisers, and is a further blow to Bahrain, which saw its Formula One grand prix scrapped earlier this year for the same reason.
The European Tour had been monitoring the situation after the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled earlier this year.
“In making the decision, Volvo and [the tournament organisers] International Management Group recognised the efforts being made by the government of Bahrain to return long-term stability to Bahrain following events earlier this year,” read a statement from the European Tour.
“However, with work still ongoing to resolve issues in Bahrain, and the need to confirm the venue by the end of July 2011, the difficult decision to postpone the event for 2012 was taken.”
Bahrain was the second stop on the Desert Swing this year, after the Abu Dhabi Championship, and before the Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic.
Tournament officials said the event will be rotated “between a very few select, world-class venues”. A new venue will be announced shortly, but will not be in the Middle East, they said.
George O’Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, said there was no alternative but to cancel the event, but he has hopes of returning to Bahrain.
“While this is an unfortunate announcement to have to make after such an impressive first edition of the Volvo Golf Champions, we know Bahrain is working hard to address the issues it has faced in recent months as well as to reach out to the international community,” O’Grady said. “We, together with the European Tour players, look forward to returning and building on that first, very successful, event in the future.”
The European Tour has stressed that the other tournaments in the Desert Swing and the season-ending Dubai World Championship (DWC) would not be affected by the decision on Bahrain.
Even before yesterday’s announcement, Keith Waters, the director of international policy of the European Tour, said the DWC’s future was secure, despite the three-year contract of main sponsor DP World coming to an end this December.