Cabinet declines to discuss WTA Tallinn tournament as deadline passes

Indoor tennis courts (photo is illustrative).
Indoor tennis courts (photo is illustrative). Source: Argo Nurs

A planned Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tournament seems likely not to be going ahead after the cabinet left the item off the agenda at a meeting held on Tuesday. According to the event organizer, the deadline for informing the WTA was Tuesday, while culture minister Tiit Terik (Center) has also expressed disappointment over developments.

Terik told ERR that: "The government could not discuss the financing of the tournament at today's extraordinary session, since [prime minister] Kaja Kallas did not put the topic on the agenda."

Terik hinted at more pressing matters on the cabinet's agenda at present.

"Yes, Estonia is going through a difficult time in security, but the fact that the government did not even discuss the issue of the WTA tournament is sad, though it didn't come as a big surprise, because Kaja Kallas has previously expressed her position on the WTA tournament," Terik went on.

Kallas has said there would be little to no economic benefit in providing the state support needed for the tournament to go ahead, noting that it is in the fourth tier (of four) in the WTA competitive structure (with the four grand slam tournaments occupying the first tier).

Organizers have suggested a hybrid of state, capital city and private sector support, while Tallinn's city government has come out in favor of holding the tournament – which would take place in October this year, and for the following two years as the proposed contract stands.

Kallas also said that October was not an ideal time of year to hold this kind of tournament, which would naturally need to be held indoors, and expressed doubts that Estonia's two top draws so far as players go, Anett Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi, would take part.

Kontaveit has subsequently expressed support for holding the competition.

Terik, under whose remit as culture minister sport falls, said it was unlikely local government and/or private sector funding would be sufficient to hold the tournament.

The national tennis association says the deadline for letting the WTA know about whether the competition could go ahead was Tuesday, meaning it was likely still born.

The association's chief, Alar Hint, told ERR that: "The tournament in Tallinn is now a thing of the past. It is difficult to forecast whether and when such an opportunity will arise again."

"We asked the state for €900,000; the total budget of the tournament is €1.3 million," Hint added, saying he only found out about developments via the prime minister's blog page.

ERR reports that Hint had informed Tallinn city authorities that sufficient private sector support had been forthcoming, in a letter sent two weeks ago.

There were four entries in the agenda at Tuesday's cabinet sitting, none of which concerned the proposed WTA tournament, though the sitting itself was an off-schedule one and likely dominated by the deteriorating security situation. Another matter which was discussed and resolved was amendments to the main piece of legislation dealing with the position of the legislature in relation to the executive, during an epidemic situation and in the light of the Covid pandemic.

Two major tennis competitions have been held in Tallinn in recent times: An International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Haabneeme last November, and an exhibition tournament held in Tondi in July 2020. Kanepi took part in both competitions, Kontaveit in the latter one.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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