India’s sole ATP event, the Chennai Open, could move out of the city that hosted the event for 21 years since inception, due to the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu and cash crunch.
As things stand now, International Management Group (IMG) is still trying to salvage the event that is named after the city but have already started studying the possibility of hosting the event either in Pune or Hyderabad. The final decision is expected to be taken within 10 days.
The 2018 edition of the tournament is scheduled to start on January 1 and according to ATP’s tournament regulations the organisers will have to intimate them about the alternate venue six months prior to that – in this case August 1, 2017.
Though IMG declined to comment on the subject for now, sources said the two alternate venues were inspected a month back but the priority is still to host the event in Chennai and the comment from the Tamil Nadu government should give them more confidence.
“Absolutely, there is no such issue. As a Lead Platinum Sponsor for Chennai Open, the state government sanctions Rs 2 crore every year and it will continue. If the organisers have any other issues, they can approach the government and things can be examined. But they have not approached the government so far,” a top government official was quoted as saying by Times of India.
The Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, which had signed a new three-year deal for the tournament earlier this year, also insisted that they haven’t pulled out of the event. “In fact, we are in the process of making a list of the players we would like to have for the event. The list will be submitted to IMG sometime next month,” a top TNTA source was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government has decided to support Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association’s bid to host the tournament in Pune.
The state cabinet has already given its approval and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has set up two committees to work out the tournament’s logistics.
Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association sources revealed that IMG’s hunt for a new host started three months earlier, and are keen to sign a deal with a five-year lock-in period.
AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee, while welcoming a move to Pune, opened doors for Mumbai to host the event as well. “Since the Chennai Open is IMG’s property, it’s their prerogative where they want to host the tournament. As far as I know, it will be held in Mumbai. The modalities are being looked into. But it’s absolutely fine if it’s held in Pune,” he was quoted as saying by Mirror.