Strife-torn Hong Kong dropped from next year's Formula E

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Strife-torn Hong Kong has been dropped from the 2019-20 Forumula E season as the city is battered by four months of violent pro-democracy protests that show no sign of abating.

Organisers released next season's calendar late Friday with the semi-autonomous city noticeably absent for the first time since 2016.

The release made no mention of why Hong Kong had been dropped.

But the South China Morning Post said organisers feared they could not risk putting on the event given the major protests now coursing through the city.

"The recent social unrest put a big question mark on the possibility of starting the event in March," Edward Yu, governor of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, was quoted as saying.

"If something were to happen on the day of the event because of social unrest, and they cannot start, it will be a big loss," he added.

Hong Kong had been due to host Formula E on 1 March next year for the sixth race of the season.

But the new calendar had the southern Chinese beach resort of Sanya listed as the sixth race instead.

Hong Kong's protests were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to mainland China, which fuelled fears of an erosion of liberties promised under "one country, two systems".

After Beijing and local leaders took a hard line, the demonstrations snowballed into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.

With no compromise or political solution on the table, the violence has escalated taking a heavy toll on the economy and multiple sporting events.

Major international tennis and golf tournaments have been cancelled in recent weeks as well horse racing and both local and international football matches.