When South Korea recently announced it would allow the US army to set up its Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-ballistic missile system (THAAD) on Korean land, few would have expected poker to be among its first casualties.
Yet that’s exactly what happened last week when the World Poker Tour was forced to cancel WPT National Korea, originally scheduled to run from 17 to 21 March. The reason was a lack of players – not because they had been shot down but because one of China’s first reactions to news of THAAD was to cancel a number of flights and cruise ships those players would have planned to be on.
The WPT’s dilemma was highlighted by a situation last week in which 3,400 Chinese tourists refused to disembark from their Costa Serena cruise for four hours while the ship docked in Jeju.
In a statement, the WPT said, Due to factors beyond our control, the World Poker Tour (WPT) today announced the cancellation of WPT National Korea scheduled for March 17-21, 2017, at Paradise Casino at Jeju Grand.
“As you may be aware, several major airline carriers have suspended air travel in the region. In the best interest of our players, the event will no longer be taking place. The WPT regrets any inconvenience this may cause and appreciates your understanding.”
The standoff also comes at the worst possible time for Korean casino operator Paradise City which recently announced it will open the country’s first Integrated Resort in Incheon on 20 April.