Sports Update – La Liga, Cricket Test Series, Lewis Hamilton and more…

World T20 (2020) has been postponed and clears the way for Indian Premier League

After months of deferring their decision, the International Cricket Council has finally postponed the World T20 to next year. The tournament was scheduled for October-November in Australia and the cancellation has been a boon of sorts for Indian Cricket. With the window of hosting World T20 clear now, the BCCI is now hoping to stage the cash-rich Indian Premier League in that window. According to initial reports, the 13th season of the IPL can be staged in UAE in October-November after it was postponed in March due to the global pandemic.
England fight back to level Test Series vs West Indies
After losing the opening test match to West Indies, hosts England roared back to clinch the 2nd test match in Manchester. The series is currently level at 1-1 and the final match of the 3-test series will be played in Manchester from 24th July. Ben Stokes was the player of the match as he smashed a stunning 176 in the first innings followed by a crucial 78 not out in the 2nd. He also picked up 3 important wickets in the match that helped England beat West Indies by 113 runs.
Fight for Champions League intensifies in Premier League
With Liverpool already declared the winners, the fight is on for Champions League qualifications in the Premier League. Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City are locked in a 3-way battle for 2 spots as qualifying for the Champions League means more profit for the teams. The top 4 teams from the Premier League qualify for Europe’s biggest club football tournament every season.
Real Madrid win La Liga, Messi upset with Barcelona
Real Madrid secured their 34th Spanish La Liga title after they finished the season 5 points ahead of 2nd placed Barcelona. 87 points from 38 games were good enough as Zinedine Zidane’s men remained unbeaten in La Liga once it resumed after the Covid-19 forced break. Barcelona, on the other hand, led the tables for the most part of the season finished 2nd as superstar Lionel Messi was left visibly upset with his side. Both teams have plenty of action waiting as they still compete in Champions League which resumes in August.
Lewis Hamilton rakes in 2 wins in 3 races in Formula 1

6-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is back to doing what he does best – winning races! The British racer won  2 out of 3 races in the current Formula 1 season and leads the points table. He won the Styrian and Hungarian Grand Prix and is aiming to win his 7th World Championship title this year. If he does, will have as many titles as the legendary Michael Schumacher who holds the record for the most number of titles titles in Formula 1!

The Sports Update! Liverpool’s big win and the start of the F1 Season.

Credit: YouTube

What did it take for Liverpool to win the Premier League?! They are giants of English football but it took Liverpool 30 long years to finally win the Premier League title.

How did it happen? As Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Premier League last week, Liverpool was handed their 1st league title since 1990. The Reds as they are fondly called, dominated the proceedings this season and won 28 out of the 31 matches and amassed 86 points. 86 points were good enough for them to win the trophy which many Liverpool fans considered bigger than even the Champions League crown.

Why is that? It took Jurgen Klopp’s side 30 years, which translates into 1,149 Premier League games since 1990 when they grabbed their last title. In this duration, Liverpool tried as many as 7 managers, 239 footballers, and a whopping 1.47 billion pounds trying to win this title. They came close to wining it a gut-wrenching 5 times, but fell short each time. They have performed pretty well in other competitions apart from the Premier League, winning 17 titles over the last 30 years including 2 Champions League trophies. This Premier League title is their fourth major trophy in the last 12 months, following the UEFA Super Cup, Champions League and FIFA World Cup wins.

What happens next? As Sadio Mane said, “We won’t stop here’ – we look forward to the rest of their journey!

Lewis Hamilton. Credit: Business Insider

Formula 1 racing: The Formula 1 (F1) 2020 season was due to start on March 15 in Austria, but as many as 10 races were cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The season will finally start on 5th July in Austria. All eyes will be on Defending Champion & 6-time winner Lewis Hamilton, who will once again race for Mercedes. The F1 management has only announced the European leg of the World Championship right now, with Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium & Italy as the hosts. Great Britain’s iconic Silverstone Circuit will become the first venue in F1’s history to host 2 races in a single season as they are scheduled to host races on both the 2nd & 9th August weekends. Get ready for some action and excitement on the track!

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist.

A tennis tournament in the times of COVID-19?

We know that many of you, like us, might be fed up of staying indoors, washing our hands so often, staying away from our friends and extended families, wearing masks, and keeping a social distance from each other. Human beings are social creatures and this seems almost unnatural! And it’s no fun to be in school online and not be able to chat with your friends. But we do have to be very careful in these times, to avoid getting infected and passing on the infection to our loved ones around us. Here’s a very public example of why this is so important.

Crowds of spectators at the Adria Open 2020. Credit: Ubitennis, ATP

Novak Djokovic is the Number One male singles tennis player in the world. Last week, he organised a tennis tournament for charity in Serbia and Croatia, and invited players from around the world to participate. Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev,  and other top tennis players attended. However, tennis in the times of COVID-19 should look different to what it has looked like in the past. Photographs and coverage of the event showed crowds of people together, with no social distancing, players hugging each other and shaking hands, and basically being in close contact with each other.

Early this week, some of the players, including Dimitrov and Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus and are isolating themselves and their families. We wish them a speedy recovery, and use this as a reminder to be responsible. Keep those masks on, wash your hands, and stay safe!

The NBA and MLS are moving into Disney World!

Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, at Disney World in August 2019. Credit: The New York Times

One of the most-watched basketball leagues in the world, the NBA (National Basketball Association) in America is all set to resume in July 2020, and has a nearly foolproof plan to sustain itself in the times of the global pandemic. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver proposed the idea of having the rest of the season at one location and it seems that he has got approval from the team owners.

Where and when will they play? The dates are not yet decided, but 22 NBA teams from both eastern and western conferences will be put together at the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus at Disney World in Orlando, Florida!  The area is a humongous 220 acres, and has many sports facilities and a broadcasting center. The players will have multiple areas for them to train in, beautiful hotels to stay in, and a stadium for them to play in!

Check it out:

Credit: Disney

All matches will be played within the campus and the teams will be put up in different hotels inside the complex.  Once inside, the players and support staff won’t be allowed to move out. The venue will also have adequate medical facilities.  All teams will undergo a 14-day quarantine period and a rigorous safety mechanism will be put in place.  Even the television crews who will be required for the live broadcast will be housed inside the Disney campus. The exact details will be clear closer to the date but the teams are expected to report at the Disney facility by June end and matches will start from 15th July. Strict medical guidelines will be followed and anyone with symptoms of the virus infection will be put into isolation immediately.

The business side: Disney owns ESPN, the sports network, which broadcasts the NBA games on television. ESPN pays the League a lot of money every year for the rights to televise the matches. Disney World has been shut since mid-March due to the coronavirus infections, and is losing A LOT of money. This deal will allow it to open up the ESPN area, hotels, rstaurants, and put people back to work. This will be a good deal for both the NBA and Disney.

Major League Soccer which is the top division league for football in the United States will follow the NBA plan and are likely to share the vast Disney campus with the basketball stars.  Since the United States struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic and has registered over 2 million cases and 1 lakh deaths, the plans for resuming the sports are not yet final.  Although the leagues have taken the necessary permissions, the government has advised them to be careful in resuming the sports.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist.

When can we see some cricket?

The world of cricket has been affected as all sport has since the Covid-19 pandemic started.  While the world is finding it very difficult to resume its regular rhythm, giant strides have been made to restart sports which provides entertainment for everyone across the world.

Cricket has been no different, as live sports were suspended in March, and Australia ended up playing New Zealand in an empty stadium before the International Cricket Council (ICC) officially called off cricket.

2020 was supposed to be a big year for the sport of cricket as Australia was all set to host the World T20 in October-November later this year. But since the pandemic hit almost every country in the world, the dynamics of cricket change completely. The ICC is deliberating whether or not it will be safe to host the World T20 Australia but in all likelihood, the global event will get canceled. The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL)was also indefinitely postponed after it was supposed to start on 29th March, 2020. The BCCI hasn’t given up yet and is flexing its financial muscles to stage the IPL in the window which was meant for the World T20.

The Australians are not likely to complain as they have been promised a tour in return.  Team India led by Virat Kohli is likely to tour Australia for a 4 Test match series followed by a few limited-overs games in December this year. The proposed Indian tour is likely to boost Cricket Australia’s cash Reserves to 400 million dollars which are almost double what they can earn by hosting the World T20. The October-November window is likely to get used by the BCCI to host the IPL. If the IPL gets canceled then the BCCI is likely to lose over 4500 crore rupees.  Since a large part of BCCI’s profits goes to the ICC and other member nations, no one is likely to complain against it.

On the ground, many things have changed due to the global pandemic. ICC has banned the use of saliva to shine the ball and players now will have to use their sweat to maintain the ball. In Test cricket, 1 new ball is given for play for almost 80 overs in a day and the players have been using saliva and sweat to shine the ball which also helps in swinging the ball. The saliva can be a transmitter of the virus and has been banned by the ICC.There will be non-neutral umpires for bilateral cricket series and the teams will be allowed to have a replacement for players with symptoms of Covid-19.  The Covid-19 replacements will only be allowed for Test cricket but a penalty of 5 runs will be imposed if a player is found violating the saliva ban more than once.

While the BCCI has decided to not travel for host till the end of August 2020, certain cricket boards are working hard to resume the sport.  The West Indian cricket team is currently in England where they are going to play Test matches followed by Pakistan touring England for Tests and ODIs. Australia and New Zealand are also in talks to restart cricket but almost all games in the near future are likely to take place in empty stadiums.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist

European football leagues are returning to form! What has the impact of COVID-19 been on them?

Credit: Bloomberg

After China, Europe was the hub and epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. Italy and Spain, followed by England, were the worst affected countries there as Europe came to a standstill. Football too was stopped in March 2020 after most countries went into lockdown. While some football leagues decided to cancel the season, others simply suspended play. One of the most-watched football leagues in the world, the English Premier League, decided to stop the play in early March.  Other major leagues like Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A also followed EPL, and players were forced into hibernation.

French Ligue 1 took an extreme step and decided to cancel the season. Some of the French clubs took the football association to court as they were getting relegated from the top division. Football stars’ contracts too were left in balance as most financial deals end in June when the football season ends. Stadiums across Europe were used for essential services to help people battle COVID-19. In some cases, they were used as testing centers and makeshift hospitals. As the governments slowly gained a little control over the pandemic, individual training sessions for footballers were permitted, with strict social distancing norms.

Slowly and steadily, team training was permitted as footballers looked to regain fitness lost during the lockdown. Germany’s Bundesliga was the first European League to restart on 2nd June in empty stadiums, and set an example for others to follow. Strict medical guidelines were implemented and frequent testing took place to help Bundesliga return to normalcy.

Cardboard cutouts of fans! Credit:

Of course, the matches were played without fans, but the associations looked towards technology to enhance the viewing experience for fans back home.  Artificial crowd noise recorded from previous matches is currently being used to replicate the environment on the football field.  Some teams even decided to put cut-outs of their fans in the stands to fill up the empty seats! Spanish La Liga was the second major European League to restart on 12th June as superstar Lionel Messi returned to the pitch for his fans.

English Premier League is planning to restart behind closed doors from 17th June. The Premier League is testing almost 1000 players, officials, and support staff in a bid to stay away from the deadly virus. The players have been asked to live in isolation for some time and avoid contact with people from outside. On the field, the footballers have been advised not to celebrate by hugging each other, but many of them are not following the celebration guidelines. The stars have also been told to use separate drinking water bottles during practice and matches and have also been advised to maintain distance even while on the ground.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist.

Tokyo 2020 postponed

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Latest update:

The Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed by one year until the summer of 2021, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Tuesday after speaking by phone with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

The much awaited decision comes after weeks of uncertainty for athletes, fans, sponsors and the Japanese public over an event that has cost the country $12.6 billion to stage.

Tuesday March 24, 2020 

The Summer Olympics, the largest sporting event in the world is scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan from July 24th 2020 onwards, but amidst the upheaval caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic (read our Covid-19 coverage here), the fate of the Games hangs in doubt.

There has been a lot of debate over the last few weeks as to whether the Olympic Games would, or should be cancelled or postponed this year, in light of the rapid spread of Coronavirus which has led to the suspension, postponement or cancellation of numerous sporting events all around the world.

Japanese President, Shinzo Abe has maintained his position that the Games will go on as scheduled with Japan playing the host. The International Olympic Committee or IOC has also not indicated that they are planning to cancel or postpone the games.

That is, until today….

Early this morning, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the 2020 Olympic Games, saying that it will not send any athletes to compete this year. Is it only a matter of time before other countries follow Canada’s example and withdraw their participation as well?

Preparation for the Olympic Games for athletes begins a long time before the actual games, with qualifying events and training taking place right from the beginning of the year. As a result of the global pandemic, many qualifying events have been forcibly cancelled. This means that even if the coronavirus situation has stabilized by July, countries are unlikely to have enough athletes who have qualified to participate in the Olympics.

Why won’t the IOC cancel?

Cancelling, or even postponing an event as large as the Olympic Games is a very difficult job. There are many many factors that need to be taken into consideration including the huge costs to both the IOC as well as the host country, logistical difficulties in changing things around and the TV and news networks that have purchased the rights to broadcast the Games around the World. Even though the IOC and Japan as the host country both have insurance policies, they may not be enough to cover all the losses that are likely to occur.

Following Canada’s announcement however, the IOC has been forced to reconsider its position and has imposed a 4-week deadline on itself within which to make a final decision about whether to cancel the Games or to postpone them for one or even two years. Let’s wait and see what the result will be in one month.

The Olympic Games have only ever been cancelled three times in the past, all during the two World Wars. The Berlin Olympics in 1916 due to World War I and the Games in both 1940 and 1944 because of World War II were called off.

Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.

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The Sports Update! Coronavirus and our favourite sports events.

India – South Africa ODI series to be played in empty stadiums 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak in India, the BCCI has decided to host the remainder of the two ODI games vs South Africa behind closed doors in empty stadiums. The 1st match of the series was washed out in Dharamsala due to rain as many spectators turned up to watch the team. The 2nd match of the series is in Lucknow on Sunday followed by 3rd in Kolkata on 18th March.

IPL in doubt after Government advises against tournament 

The Government of India has advised the BCCI against hosting the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The BCCI along with the Governing Council of the IPL will be meeting on Saturday 14th March and take the final call on the tournament. According to many reports, the BCCI might host the matches behind closed doors as fans will be forced to watch the matches on television and mobile phones.

Ronaldo & team under isolation as sports stop in Italy 

After the Italian football side Juventus’ player Daniele Rugani tested positive for Coronavirus, the entire squad along with Ronaldo have been put under isolation. Rugani along with striker Paulo Dybala tested positive and all sports activities in Italy have been suspended. Juventus’ matches in the UEFA Champions League have also been postponed.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has hit the Premier League in England as well as Arsenal’s boss Mikel Arteta tested positive. He along with the entire team and the support staff have been sent to quarantine and the training centre has been shut. Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy has also gone into isolation after a number of his family members showed symptoms of the virus.

Formula 1 season opener in Australia cancelled

Formula 1’s opening race of the season in Australia has been cancelled as well due to the virus outbreak Down Under. Earlier, McLaren pulled out of the season-opening race after one of its team members tested positive. The cancellation also puts next weekend’s race in Bahrain in doubt, along with the Vietnamese Grand Prix on 5th April.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist

The Week in Sports

New Zealand thrash India in the 1st Test Match in Wellington

It took New Zealand just a little over 4 days to thrash India in the 1st Test match in Wellington. Team India were bowled out twice in the Test for 165 & 191 as New Zealand won by 10 wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the 2-match series. The 2nd match will be played in Christchurch on 29th March.

Neymar sent off but Paris St Germain still win 

Bouncing back from their recent defeat in the Champions League, French side Paris St Germain beat Bordeaux in a tight encounter which finished at 4-3 on Sunday. PSG’s star striker Neymar was shown the red-card during the game but not before he scored the match-winning goal in the 92nd minute of the match.

Man United & Arsenal register wins in Premier League 

Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday which pushed them to the 5th spot on the points table. Bruno Fernandez scored his first goal for United as the Red Devils secured a comfortable win. Arsenal, on the other hand, were stretched by Everton on Sunday. The Gunners won the match 3-2 courtesy a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Red Bull sign Jehan Daruvala for his maiden F2 stint

An Indian racer, Jehan Daruvala has been signed by Red Bull Racing team for the new Formula 2 season. The 21-year-old from Mumbai will be competing in the tier 2 competition which acts as a feeder school for Formula 1. Jehan is aiming to become the 3rd Indian after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok to race in Formula 1.

Sports stopped in Northern Italy due to Coronavirus 

A surge in the cases of Coronavirus has forced the Italian government to cancel all sporting events in the northern part of the country. With more than 150 confirmed cases and 3 deaths, the government cancelled all football, tennis and rugby events. Ronaldo led Juventus has also cancelled all events at their Allianz Stadium till 29th February.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist

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Man City is banned for 2 years!

In a major blow, defending English Premier League Champions Manchester City have been banned from competing in all European competitions for 2 years. The ban comes in effect from 2021 season and will prevent the Citizens from participating in Champions League and the Europa League. According to UEFA which is the European governing body for football, City has been banned for breaching the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. 

Why? What happened? According to the FFP rules set by the governing body, football clubs are prohibited from spending more money to acquire new players, in comparison to what they earn. Every football team targets new talent for their side and end up paying a huge amount of money for the player. Sometimes, young players who have potential are bought by the teams for astronomical amounts which lock their future at a club.

Manchester City is owned by Abu Dhabi based Oil baron Sheikh Mansour who has pumped a lot of money into the club. According to the charges against City management, UEFA has said that Sheikh Mansour illegally routed his money through sponsors in Abu Dhabi which helped his team show huge profits. As a result, the team could buy more and more players which benefited them in some way or another.

So what is the full penalty and what happens next? Apart from the 2-year-long ban, UEFA has also imposed a $32.4 million fine on City. The management of the club has appealed against the ban in Court of Arbitration for Sports which is the top court in the world of sports.

Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist