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Deadly blast will delay Champions Tour’s debut in China until 2016

The first Champions Tour event to be played in China was canceled Aug. 25 in the wake of a series of deadly explosions that rocked the northeastern port city of Tianjin.

The Pacific Links China Championship, which was scheduled for Sept. 18-20 at the 27 Club in Tianjin, was scrapped after an Aug. 12 explosion at a hazardous-goods storage facility ignited fires and subsequent blasts. The death toll has risen to 129, including a number of firefighters and first responders, with 44 missing and more than 600 hospitalized, according to news reports. The blasts prompted concern that toxic pollutants could be contaminating the air and water in Tianjin, a city of 7.5 million residents.

The 27 Club was not directly affected by the blasts, but officials agreed that hosting a tournament in the weeks after such a tragedy would be inappropriate.

“Given the recent events, Pacific Links and our members feel it is time to support and grieve with the victim’s families, friends and all residents of the great city of Tianjin,” said Sha Du, the owner and chairman of Pacific Links International, in a statement released by the Champions Tour.

Liping Sun, president of the China Olympic Sports Industry, the event-management partner for the Pacific Links China Championship, expressed his “full support” with the decision.

“We sincerely hope next year’s Pacific Links China Championship can be held to honor the memory of those from Tianjin who died and were injured,” Sun said.

Greg McLaughlin, president of the Champions Tour, said: “On behalf of the Champions Tour and our players we are confident this is the appropriate and correct decision. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and those injured after this tragedy. We look forward to our continued partnership with Pacific Links and the 2016 Champions Tour event at the 27 Club in China.”

With the cancellation, the Champions Tour will have three weeks off between the Aug. 28-30 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y., and the Sept. 25-27 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in California.

The WGC-HSBC Champions event, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA and European tours and scheduled for Nov. 5-8 in Shanghai, was not affected by the events in Tianjin. The LPGA’s visit to China, set for Oct. 29-Nov. 1 on Hainan Island, also will be played as scheduled.

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