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Russian Open cancelled due to financial crisis

The Russian Open has been cancelled this year because of the global financial crisis, the event organiser said on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we had to cancel the tournament (scheduled for Aug. 6-9) this year because our main sponsor has backed out,” tournament director Hans Koeleman told Reuters.

“We have raised about 1.3 million euros ($1.85 million) but were still some 700,000 euros short,” he said.

“Last year total prize money was $2 million and this year we wanted to offer a smaller prize money, like one million euros, but still couldn’t find the funds to run a successful tournament.”

Russian real estate company Inteco, which guaranteed last year’s prize money, was forced to pull out because of the difficult economic situation.

Inteco head Yelena Baturina, the billionaire wife of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has seen her wealth tumble this year amid a 70 percent collapse of Russia’s stock market.

“In order to run a quality tournament you have to have a sponsor, otherwise it’s almost impossible to have a fully fledged tournament,” said Koeleman.

The Russian Open, held at a picturesque course at the Moscow Country Club just north of the capital, has been part of the main European Tour since 2003. The tournament has seen a steady growth over the last few years.

“We had plans to raise the prize money to two million euros this year,” said Koeleman, who has been involved in hosting and promoting the event since 2001.

“Of course, that was before the global crisis.”

The Dutchman said he was hoping to run the tournament next year but time was running out.

“I would hate to see this tournament die out because I worked very hard for eight years to build it up,” he said.

“I’ve already talked to the European Tour. Of course, they now want financial guarantees from us.

“We have to provide the necessary financial guarantees by July 1 to have a good date on the European calendar next year.

“But I’m optimistic that we can still find a solution. This crisis can’t go on forever,” he added.


June 2, 2009

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