May 10 The first leg of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) has been shifted from Bangkok to Manila because of the political unrest in Thailand, organisers said on Saturday.
Thailand's politicians have been unable to forge a compromise over a nearly decade-long split between the royalist establishment and a populist former telecommunications tycoon, whose sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister on Wednesday.
Her sacking by the Constitutional Court for nepotism followed six months of anti-government protests and the ongoing turmoil has prompted the IPTL organisers to shift the Nov 28-30 event to the Philippines.
"We had to divert from the original franchise owner in Bangkok as the political unrest forced us to look for an alternative city to ensure the safety of all stakeholders," league founder Mahesh Bhupathi said in a statement.
"Bringing world class tennis to new audience's has always been one of the objectives of the IPTL and we are happy to announce Manila as the first host city of our tour across Asia," said the Indian doubles specialist.
"Manila quickly emerged as the perfect location to stage the event for the coming years as we have world class indoor venues available which can hold more than 20,000 spectators each and secondly, the city that has not seen professional tennis for the past 20 years."
Picked by Bangkok in the March draft, Britain's Andy Murray, Frenchman Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will now represent team Manila.
Singapore, Dubai and Mumbai are home to the other three franchises of the competition styled on cricket's Indian Premier League.
The teams will compete in men's and women's singles, men's and mixed doubles and a men's legends singles with one set per match, and no advantage scoring.
Men's world number one Rafa Nadal, number two Novak Djokovic and top woman player Serena Williams are among the marquee players who have committed to the league. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty,; editing by Pritha Sarkar)