Tokyo Olympics fol­lowed by 3 big events in China

The State - - Sports -

Uncer­tainty grips next year’s post­poned Tokyo Olympics: Will there be fans or empty sta­di­ums in 14 months? And how will thou­sands of ath­letes, staff, and tech­ni­cal of­fi­cials travel, be housed, and stay safe amid COVID-19?

And Tokyo is not alone. China – where the COVID-19 out­break was first de­tected – will hold three mega-sports events within a year af­ter Tokyo is set to close.

The World Univer­sity Games in Chengdu in western China open 10 days af­ter the Tokyo Games close, with up to 8,000 ath­letes. Next come the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics be­gin­ning on Feb. 4, 2022, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou start­ing on Sept. 10. The pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the Asian Games in In­done­sia drew 11,000 ath­letes and fea­tured more sports than the Olympics.

A fourth ma­jor event, soc­cer’s 24-team Club World Cham­pi­onship, was to open in China in June of 2021, but has been post­poned be­cause of sched­ul­ing con­flicts.

China is a go-to coun­try for these mega events, through ex­per­tise gained from the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics and be­cause it ab­sorbs the mas­sive costs. It spent at least $40 bil­lion to or­ga­nize the 2008 Olympics, and there was no na­tional de­bate since the au­thor­i­tar­ian state pro­hibits vot­ing or ref­er­en­dums.

Vot­ers in Europe and North Amer­ica have re­peat­edly said “no” to ref­er­en­dums to hold the games. China landed the 2022 Win­ter Olympics when sev­eral Euro­pean bid­ders with­drew. Bei­jing won nar­rowly in a vote by the IOC against Al­maty, Kaza­khstan.

“Telling the cit­i­zens of Bavaria or Switzer­land that an­other Win­ter Olympics would ben­e­fit them greatly doesn’t work,” Jonathan Grix, who stud­ies sports pol­icy at Manch­ester Metropoli­tan Univer­sity, wrote in an email. He said vot­ers sense that “cit­i­zens rarely ben­e­fit the most from such events.”

“Au­thor­i­tar­ian states have no need to ask the pop­u­lace, they have no need to com­pro­mise on pol­icy, there is no po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion (by def­i­ni­tion) and most de­liv­ery ser­vices are state-run, en­sur­ing the smooth run­ning of the event,” Grix added.

Soc­cer

Fin­land aims to restart:

A stel­lar 2019 for soc­cer in Fin­land was meant to hit a new peak in the 2020 sea­son. The na­tional team qual­i­fied last Novem­ber for its first ma­jor tour­na­ment and Fin­land was go­ing to spend midJune ob­sessed by the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

An­other Nordic na­tion mak­ing a long-shot de­but dressed in blue and white, Fin­land was aim­ing to fol­low Ice­land’s in­spir­ing run to the Euro 2016 quar­ter­fi­nals.

“It was re­ally, re­ally pos­i­tive. The coun­try has never been so en­thu­si­as­tic,” Fin­nish league CEO Timo Mar­ja­maa told The As­so­ci­ated Press of his home coun­try that is world cham­pion in its top sport, ice hockey.

The pan­demic has forced Euro 2020 – where Fin­land was set to play against top-ranked Bel­gium, Den­mark and neigh­bor Rus­sia – to be post­poned for one year.

On June 16, in­stead of pre­par­ing to face the Rus­sians in nearby St. Peters­burg, Fin­nish fans are look­ing to restart the na­tional cup com­pe­ti­tion stopped in March.

July 1 is the tar­get, pend­ing gov­ern­ment ap­proval, to start the 12-team Veikkaus­li­iga sea­son. That’s al­most three months af­ter the league’s planned open­ing day and more than eight months since a mem­o­rable 2019 ti­tle was sealed.

The league tro­phy won by KuPS in Oc­to­ber was the team from Kuo­pio’s first in 43 years, and the first de­cided in a six­team cham­pi­onship group af­ter the reg­u­lar sea­son. The back­drop was the an­tic­i­pa­tion of Fin­land ad­vanc­ing to Euro 2020 with group leader Italy by win­ning its home games in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

NBA

Wall starts rent pro­gram:

Wiz­ards point guard John Wall is start­ing the “202 As­sist” pro­gram to help with pay­ing rent for peo­ple in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. The John Wall Fam­ily Foun­da­tion set a goal of rais­ing $300,000 over the next month. The pro­gram is named for Wash­ing­ton’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and dis­perse funds.

Wall is a five-time NBA All-Star who was drafted No. 1 over­all by the Wiz­ards in the 2010 draft. He sat out all of the 2019-20 sea­son af­ter tear­ing his left Achilles ten­don. His foun­da­tion do­nated 2,300 masks and hun­dreds of meals to front-line work­ers in Wash­ing­ton and in his home state of North Carolina in April.

Ten­nis

Djokovic plans tour­neys:

No­vak Djokovic is plan­ning to set up a se­ries of ten­nis tour­na­ments in the Balkan re­gion while the sport is sus­pended. The top-ranked player’s me­dia team said the Adria Tour will start in Bel­grade on June 13 and end on July 5 with Djokovic’s ex­hi­bi­tion match against Bos­nian player Damir Dzumhur in Sara­jevo. The other events are sched­uled for the Croa­t­ian Adri­atic re­sort of Zadar, Mon­tene­gro and Banja Luka in north­ern Bos­nia.

Djokovic will play in all of the round robin tour­na­ments. The other par­tic­i­pants are to in­clude Do­minic Thiem and Grigor Dim­itrov.

Or­ga­niz­ers left open the pos­si­bil­ity that the “hu­man­i­tar­ian” tour could be played in front of spec­ta­tors.

No pro­fes­sional ten­nis tour­na­ments have been played since March.

AP file

The uncer­tainty that sur­rounds the post­poned Tokyo Olympics also per­me­ates three mega-events planned in China, where the coro­n­avirus was first de­tected.

KAM­RAN JEBREILI AP

Ser­bia's No­vak Djokovic is plan­ning a se­ries of ten­nis tour­na­ments in the Balkans. The Adria Tour will start in Bel­grade on June 13 and end on July 5 in Sara­jevo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.