LONDON – The European Tour will not be returning to Bahrain next year.
The tour said Monday that the Volvo Golf Champions will not take place at Bahrain’s Royal Golf Club following political unrest in the Gulf kingdom.
At least 32 people died in Bahrain this year in protests for greater freedoms and rights.
“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,” the tour said in a statement.
Tournament sponsor Volvo and tournament organizer International Management Group will rotate future events between a handful of locations, including the Bahrain Royal Golf Club course designed by European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.
“Bahrain will remain on the roster of venues for future tournaments,” the tour said, adding thata the tour’s return to the country had been “delayed” rather than canceled.
International human rights group Human Rights Watch said last month that hundreds of protesters, activists and more than 70 medical professionals have been detained in a four-month crackdown following the unrest.
“We respect that a decision needed to be made now regarding the venue for next year’s event,” said Sheik Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board. “We have heeded corporate advice in making this decision.
“We do not feel Bahrain can host a tournament of this magnitude while the international perception of Bahrain is as it is.”
The inaugural Volvo Golf Champions was won by Paul Casey in January, with Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez tying for second.