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November 15, 2005

Jiang Lan

Wang Liqun

Qin Weichang


JIANG LAN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As we know already, two unexpected incidents took place last night. First of all, 19-year-old Rafael Nadal from Spain pulled out of the match before the match even started. Secondly, Andre Agassi, after losing his match, decided to withdraw as well. As we know, up to this point, five tennis masters have already decided not to continue to play or have not played at all. So, obviously, the media in Shanghai and people here are very concerned about this issue; so is the Organizing Committee. As far as the Organizing Committee is concerned, we have been in contact and had communications with the owner of this tournament, the ATP, ITF, for quite a while. This afternoon we are going to have a briefing. We would like to brief you with some of the decisions. Mr. Qin Weichang, Administration of Sports, Deputy Director, from Shanghai, and also the Organizing Committee Director. And, obviously, people by this time have got to know him, Deputy Director of the Organizing Committee as well, and General Manager of Shanghai Bashi Industrial Corporation Limited. We'd like to ask these two gentlemen a little bit about the latest information on the situation, and then we will have the Q and A session.

WANG LIQUN: Good afternoon. Last night we already had a press conference apologizing to everybody about the situation with two tennis masters pulling out of the tournament. The Organizing Committee and the ATP again have discussed the issues in this situation. Obviously, certain things are totally unexpected. They are due to luck. Both parties, the ATP and Organizing Committee, would like to make it as beautiful as possible and be responsible to the media, the public, and all parties concerned. The Board members of the ATP right now are still having a meeting. Therefore, I will represent everybody here and give you the latest. There are two sides that I need to touch on. One is that we both agree we need to continue to make this event as perfect as possible. Yesterday, Nadal actually went to the media center to apologize and say hi to the media people. Today, we organized this activity to ask him to say hi to his fans, to meet his fans. About 500 fans actually went there to meet him. The whole activity lasted for about 40 minutes. Tonight he will also meet his endorsers. By the same token, the Organizing Committee will also in the next few days try to provide better service to you. We have reason to believe that the games will get more exciting down the road. The ATP has also promised that in the next three to six months, some of the top-notch or first-class athletes, tennis players, will come to Shanghai to meet the public, meet the press, meet people, meet endorsers, and will be available. We certainly hope this whole tournament will have a perfect ending. No matter what, as we know, the players ranked from No. 2 through 6 are absent. This is certainly a regret to the fans here. This is certainly something unprecedented. There is no such thing as a reference to check on. After our consultations, we have come up with this basic solution. The resolution or the solution is as follows: We'd like to compensate for the loss of the fans, so to speak. Those who have already bought tickets for this tournament will be able to enjoy a discount next year in the Tennis Masters Cup. Of course we're not going to raise the price. It will be in response to what you have got this year. For example, if you have booked the set tickets this year, you will be able to enjoy that next year as well. We certainly hope the discount will be big; however, we need to have meetings again. Perhaps after tonight and tomorrow we will let you know more details. In this way we hope that we are able, to a certain degree, to compensate for the regret and also to give our thanks to the fans and the public. Thank you.

QIN WEICHANG: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Just now, Mr. Wang briefed you on the latest information, particularly on the unexpected situation after our consultation with the ATP. I would like to add a few points. We certainly feel regret, and the regret actually comes from not only the fans, the Organizing Committee and also the ATP. As we know, to have this kind of tournament in Shanghai, particularly in Shanghai, also nation-wide, we have really shaked up this kind of tennis frenzy, which is not easy. Obviously, we know that throughout the past 15 years in the ATP history five top-notch masters quit due to different reasons, mainly injury, which this is totally unprecedented. There are two ways to deal with this issue. Of course you can say that this unexpected situation is due to the nature of sports itself. It's totally accidental. As far as the Organizing Committee is concerned, we need to show our responsibility for everybody. We, therefore, consulted and had a discussion with the ATP hoping that they will be responsible as well to show that the ATP is a responsible and branded international organization. First of all, we need to be responsible for our fans here. The fans are really the foundation of our tournament in any sense. Therefore, after the incident, the two incidents took place, Mr. Wang and Mr. Jiang immediately talked to ATP people trying to find out a solution. Not only did we actually try to let people, let fans know the truth from the very beginning, but also we'd like to thank them for being so supportive of this event. Therefore, we need to, at the same time, compensate for their understanding, their support. Secondly, we know that the frenzy situation in China regarding tennis is not easy. China has started the tennis fever in a late stage, so it's not easy. We really cannot dampen the enthusiasm about tennis in this country. As we know, Chinese tennis is still at the primitive stage. Many fans really come to this event for big stories. Their understanding of the nuances or understanding of tennis still leaves a lot to be desired. Therefore, we certainly hope that the ATP will not deal with the situation according to their traditional way, say regulations, but paying special attention to the Chinese tennis market. After our consultation with the ATP, we certainly have their understanding and their support. These understandings have materialized into a couple of issues in terms of actions. For example, Nadal came on to court yesterday to apologize. Also today he met the fans to say hi to them and to show them his understanding and asking them for their understanding. Thirdly, we need to be responsible for this brand new product, the Tennis Masters Cup itself. We know that Shanghai is going to consecutively hold this event for three years, including this year. Therefore, we need to be responsible for this branded product. We hope that the ATP will be responsible to maintain its branded product for their own sake in the medium- and long-term interest. As Mr. Wang indicated after our consultations, both parties have agreed to find certain ways to compensate for the fans. Also, some certain actions and measures will be taken including ATP's promises to help Shanghai, help the country, help tennis become more popularized. The withdrawals of the five tennis players really is a test to the ATP and also to the Organizing Committee. Whatever we do is a test to show if we have the responsibility, passion or love to the people and fans here. Of course it's also this kind of unexpected incident that will test our way of behaving ourselves, particularly from the fans' side, and also fans not only from Shanghai but also from the country. Even though many fans have already confessed that they feel regret that some tennis masters are out, they feel that the excitement still remains, and hopefully it will remain intact. They certainly hope to use this opportunity to understand the nature of tennis and learn more about the charm of tennis. It will also reflect the degree of civilization of people in Shanghai. As we said, the fact that the ATP has chosen Shanghai to be the venue for this Tennis Masters Cup for the next three years, including this year, is not easy. This is only day three, and we still have five more days to go. We believe that with the joint efforts from everybody including the ATP, the Organizing Committee, and certainly we cannot forget the media's efforts to support us, we would like to make this event as beautiful and as perfect as possible. We welcome your constructive suggestions to the Organizing Committee. Thank you.

JIANG LAN: Now the Q and A session.

Q. The question is about the venue itself, and also if it is related to the injury or the pullout from these tennis players.

WANG LIQUN: The venue, under the sanction of the ATP and also thanks to the French company Chef (ph), it was completed. It was 100%. It actually met the standard set by the ATP 100%. Therefore, in terms of different opinions about this venue itself, different people certainly will hold different opinions. It's very hard to judge in that sense.

Q. In terms of Rafael Nadal, he has been in touch with the media and also fans, which is great. In terms of Andre Agassi, he hasn't done anything so far yet.

WANG LIQUN: (Through Chinese translation) The ATP are trying to consult with both of them. Mr. Wang personally doesn't appreciate what Andre Agassi is doing, so to speak. In the year 2000 when Andre Agassi came to Shanghai for the Heineken, in the first round he took an early exit. Two years later in the Tennis Masters Cup, after two defeats, he cited his injury again, a hip injury, and he took off again. This year, by the same token, it happened. He doesn't want to make any personal comments on Andre Agassi's decision; however, he certainly is not appreciative of what he did, and particularly because he actually made the sudden announcement here without notifying anyone.

Q. As you said before, five of the top six players have pulled out of this tournament. For the last big event in China, the Shanghai Open, in Beijing in September, many big players also pulled out before. On the women's side, for instance, Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova have pulled out. Don't you think it will be difficult in the future to sell the tickets to the fans and generally to convince them to come to the stadium, because actually this is the third time in three occasions that this kind of thing is happening in China.

WANG LIQUN: That's why we're taking action from our side to cope with this issue. As far as the technical part is concerned, how to curb the injury, how to curb the situation from the athletes, it's beyond my control. It's the issue that is dealt with by the ATP and the ITF.

QIN WEICHANG: This is a question we've been concerned about. Obviously, from our side, the Organizing Committee's side, we would like to provide a better and more satisfying service to our audience. We say we have the best venue here. Also we'd like to improve our organizing level and organizing ability. However, in terms of the hectic schedule from the ATP's side, we are talking to them about it. We are suggesting that they really perhaps need to make some adjustment in order to play for the athletes' interest. When they don't have an injury, they will come to the venue to perform better. We certainly hope that they will analyze and go into details to talk over these accidental incidents that took place here in order to maintain a branded product here.

Q. I heard the word "compensation" raised more than a few times. Was the local Organizing Committee seeking compensation from the ATP? Was that part of the discussions last night and today?

WANG LIQUN: Of course in terms of this tournament it's the efforts from both sides. As far as our side is concerned, we have already promised and would like to be responsible for our fans and also give an explanation, say the action being taken is to give them a discount in terms of tickets next year. As far as the business between the ATP and the Organizing Committee here, certain issues talked about are strictly highly confidential. I am not going to talk about them here.

Q. Any event that comes at the end of a very long, grueling season is going to be vulnerable. As you said, this one has unprecedented vulnerability with the injuries. The ATP have been running the calendar now for many, many years. We seem to have the same problems persisting. As new people involved in tennis, have you any ideas to bring a freshness and new look to the calendar, any new objectives you see to improve the situation we're in at the moment?

WANG LIQUN: Throughout the past 15 years, as we said before, the incident here has been totally unprecedented. It's very hard for me to come up with some suggestions or advice. We certainly would like to have everybody perfect the system, the system of the game itself throughout the whole year, throughout the whole calendar. We certainly hope that we can work out something like that.

QIN WEICHANG: As we know, the ATP has very successfully been able to host many events throughout the year, throughout the past years, and also in a commercial sense as well. Obviously, because of that, all the ATP stops, the ATP tournaments, have been very, very competitive. We have many tournaments going on. We certainly hope that what happened in Shanghai -- we have already given them our suggestion, and we certainly hope that these unhappy incidents will not happen next year. What happened here is the first time; also we hope it's the last time. We certainly would like to ask the ATP to cover the bases on the commercial end and also the interest of the audience or the fans to make the tournaments more exciting. Whatever we've been discussing with them or suggesting to the organization itself may not be convenient for me to reveal or uncover right now.

JIANG LAN: The issue you mentioned, you brought up actually, has been heatedly debated over years past. Nothing has fundamentally changed. However, what happened here in Shanghai is certainly something unprecedented. We certainly hope the situation itself may actually create a silver lining; the Shanghai tournament itself, what happened here, will give the international tennis community a special contribution in that sense, to arouse the attention to pay attention to this kind of incident. Last question.

Q. Two brief questions to Mr. Wang, please, about your comments earlier about Andre Agassi's record here in Shanghai. Have you had a chance personally to air your grievances to Andre Agassi?

WANG LIQUN: Not a chance yet (smiling).

Q. Would you have preferred it if he had done what Nadal had done, i.e., pull out before playing a match? And has the fact that he played a match affected you in any way?

WANG LIQUN: Perhaps it's our bad luck here, all his injuries took place. I mean, whenever he was here, in other words, his injuries took place or incurred.

QIN WEICHANG: We commend Andre Agassi at the age of 35 of being competitive and still carrying on with this kind of professional career. Just like Andre Agassi, we certainly feel sorry that Andre Agassi had three chances in Shanghai and three times he lost here. We have this certain degree of disappointment, as he does. Frankly, he's extremely popular in Shanghai, particularly among female fans. We actually, therefore, have already conveyed in talks with the ATP, asking them to convey to Andre Agassi that he needs to probably return this kind of favor, react to this kind of strong passion from the audience and show his professionalism here.

JIANG LAN: The ticket-selling situation is pretty good. We have sold basically the majority or part of the tickets prior to the tournament taking place. We still have some tickets left and you may get tickets from gate No. 2. We certainly hope everybody will hold on to the conclusion of the tournament here. Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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