Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has expressed skepticism about Tallinn hosting a planned World Tennis Association (WTA) tennis tournament, citing a lack of obvious economic benefit and an opposition to the competition receiving state support.
Writing on her personal blog (link in Estonian) Kallas noted that hosting the tournament for three years would cost €2,700,000, whereas: "For example, €900,000 could be used to pay a bonus of €500 to each rescue worker."
Kallas also questioned the importance of the tournament, a WTA250 event to be played indoors, and also its timing, late on in the season, in October.
"In terms of prize money and points, this is a fourth-tier tournament, so to speak, where players pick up fewer points than, for example, at the Moscow tournament planned for the same time," Kallas continued.
"Anett Kontaveit won the Moscow tournament last year. But there is no certainty that Estonia's top two players, Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi, or other players of the same caliber, would come to compete," the prime minister went on.
Such requests for funding always come out-of-the-blue and with a massive time pressure for a decision to be made, she said, while if the tournament is economically attractive, then the private sector ought to be lining up to support it.
"As a rule, if it could be stated that this is a unique opportunity which will bring a lot of money back into the economy, then why should the state support it? In this case, the argument persists that the tournament will bring huge economic benefits when the private sector itself is not prepared to support it. It would be more logical for those who are to benefit, invest in it themselves," Kallas continued.
Kallas said she has asked Minister of Culture Tiit Terik (Center) to map out the major competitions of interest to Estonia in general and to: "Set out a clear plan for what we are after and what does not benefit us, and where our focus is."
Such funding entries would logically be taken into account when planning the annual state budget, or if a reserve is set up which could be utilized.
Other major sports competitions in Estonia include Rally Estonia, which has been a full WRC event since 2020 and which costs €2.5 million per year in state support to host.
Chief of the national tennis association Allar Hint announced the potential landing of the WTA tournament earlier this month.
Editor: Andrew Whyte