Elite athletes in Scotland have been given the go-ahead to return to training in groups under social-distancing guidelines
The Scottish Government has approved plans for professional, performance and Olympic/Paralympic athletes to return to organised sessions following talks with sportscotland, which has published detailed guidelines.
Stewart Harris, the chief executive of sportscotland said: “We all want to see sport return as soon as it is safe to do so but the most pressing priority at this time remains public health and well-being.
“We have been working closely with our partners including the Scottish Government and SGBs (sports governing bodies) to develop guidance, appropriate to Scotland, which follows the route-map through and out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Following the announcement of the move into phase one of the route-map on May 28, a number of outdoor non-contact sports were given approval to issue guidance to their communities to allow appropriate physical activity and exercise to take place.
“Our collective ambition has always been to progress both community and performance sport simultaneously and approval has now been given to allow commencement of the first stage of a return to professional/performance sport for athletes, coaches and support staff.
“This will allow engagement in outdoor, individual or group training, with appropriate physical distancing and health and hygiene measures in place. It will also allow travel to outdoor training sites beyond the current Scottish Government guideline of broadly five miles.
“These measures are very positive steps forward for the sport sector as we seek to rebuild our systems at all levels. Alongside our partners we will continue to play our part to ensure the transition back to sport, both in local communities and at a performance level, is as safe and effective as possible.”
The guidelines include stipulations that indoor facilities remain closed to the public; a ban on spectating other than for adults supervising children or vulnerable adults; limits on participants to ensure social distancing; regular cleaning of equipment and removal of non-essential equipment such as benches and scoreboards. Detailed sport-specific guidelines have also been published.
Non-contact sports such as tennis and golf returned for the general public with restrictions when phase one was introduced in late May, while the Scottish Rugby Union this week confirmed its players would be invited to BT Murrayfield for individual training from June 22.
Rugby transfer confirmation: Cobus Reinach joins Montpellier
South African World Cup winner Cobus Reinach has joined Montpellier on a three-year deal, the Top 14 club said today.
The 30-year-old scrum-half, who has won 14 caps for the Springboks, spent the last three seasons with the Northampton Saints where he established himself as one of the league’s best players.
“Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities,” said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.
“He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing.”
Credit: Action Images
Montpellier finished the Top 14 season in eighth place after the National League ended it early amid the COVID-19 crisis after 17 games.
Supporters want Manchester City-Liverpool to go ahead at the Etihad
Liverpool supporters’ group the Spirit of Shankly has asked for input into the decision on where next month’s match against Manchester City should be played.
The fixture on July 2 is the only Premier League match in the rearranged 2019-20 calendar without a confirmed venue.
Manchester City Council’s safety advisory group will decide whether the Etihad Stadium can be used for the match, and SoS says it is vital fans are given a voice in the discussions.
Earlier this week the safety advisory group for Liverpool City Council gave the go-ahead for the Merseyside derby to be played at Goodison Park on June 21, which had been the only other fixture with an unconfirmed venue.
On May 29 the UK’s football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, said local forces had requested five matches to be played at neutral venues.
These were the Manchester City v Liverpool match, the Merseyside derby, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Manchester City v Newcastle and Newcastle v Liverpool.
The latter three are all listed to be played at the regular home venue on the Premier League’s website, with only City v Liverpool now listed as “TBC”.
The Premier League is set to resume on June 17, with Aston Villa taking on Sheffield United and City hosting Arsenal.
More on the F1 news:
Formula One will not visit Azerbaijan, Singapore or Japan this year but organisers remain confident of staging between 15 and 18 grands prix.
F1 announced on Friday morning that it would not be possible to put on races this year on the street circuits in Baku and Singapore, nor at Suzuka.
A statement read: “As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season.”
Earlier this month an eight-race European calendar was unveiled to get the delayed 2020 season under way, but the plan is to add a further seven to 10 events before the end of the year.
It is hoped the full calendar will be finalised before the season-opening race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on July 5.
That grand prix will be the first of two races on consecutive weekends at the track in Spielberg, before a Hungarian Grand Prix on July 19 and two races at Silverstone on August 2 and 9.
Further races will follow in Spain, Belgium and Italy – with eight races the minimum needed to determine a world champion.
F1 had then been hoping to shift to Asia and the Americas, but managing director Ross Brawn on Thursday suggested further European races could be added due to the difficulty of organising events around the world as nations come through the coronavirus pandemic at different rates.
“There is a contingency to have an extended European season with another one or two races if needed,” Brawn said on the F1 website. “I think Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be the backstop of the season from what we can see at the moment.
“That gives us 10. We’ll find at least five or six good races in the middle.”
Olympics update: 80 per cent of venues secured for next year’s Games, says Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto
Tokyo 2020 organisers announced on Friday that 80 per cent of the venues required to run a successful Olympics have been secured ahead of next year’s rearranged Games.
In the original plan for the Olympics due to start next month, 43 venues, including eight new sites built for the Games, were included.
The National Stadium, set to host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, is one of the venues that has been successfully secured for 2021.
F1 news: Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan races all cancelled
This year’s Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese Formula One Grands Prix have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers announced today.
Formula One had already cancelled four other races, including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May, and published a revised and shortened provisional schedule due to start in Austria on July 5.
“As a result of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, we and our promoters in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan have taken the decision to cancel their races for the 2020 season,” Formula One said in a statement.
The long lead times required to construct the Singapore and Azerbaijan street circuits made hosting those events impossible, it added.
Singapore Grand Prix organisers said “prohibitions imposed on access and construction of the event venue” had forced the cancellation of the spectacular night race.
“Apart from the closure of the event venue, other challenges include ongoing mass gathering and worldwide travel restrictions,” they added.
Singapore has nearly 39,000 COVID-19 cases, one of the highest tallies in Asia due to mass outbreaks in cramped migrant worker dormitories in the city-state.
“In Japan, ongoing travel restrictions also led to the decision not to proceed with the race,” said Formula One.
Japan’s round of the MotoGP championship, which was due to take place on Oct. 18 at Motegi after the F1 race at Suzuka on Oct. 11, had already been cancelled due to the expected extension of a travel ban.
“We have made significant progress with existing and new promoters on the revised calendar and have been particularly encouraged by the interest that has been shown by new venues in hosting a Formula One race during the 2020 season,” the F1 statement said.
A second race in Italy has been mooted for Ferrari-owned Mugello or Imola, once home of the San Marino Grand Prix, while Germany’s Hockenheim and Portugal’s Algarve circuit in Portimao are other possibilities.
Sochi in Russia could host two races.
“We are confident in our plans to have between 15-18 races by the time our season concludes in Abu Dhabi in mid-December and expect to publish the finalised calendar before we start our season in Austria,” said Formula One.
More on Pakistan’s squad:
Pakistan have named a squad of 29 to tour England later this summer.
The trip does not yet have official dates or venues but will be held in August and September, consisting of three Tests and three Twenty20s.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had previously announced that Mohammad Amir, Haris Sohail and Hasan Khan would be unavailable, leaving head coach Misbah-ul-Haq to place “one eye on the future”.
Uncapped 19-year-old batsman Haider Ali is a notable inclusion, while experienced seamer Sohail Khan has been recalled for the first time since 2016.
Azhar Ali will captain the Test side, while Babar Azam will lead the T20 team.
Commonwealth Games: Athletes to be allowed to take a knee in protest, says Games chief
Athletes competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England will be allowed to take a knee in support of worldwide anti-racism movements, competition organisers said.
Several major sports organisations have moved to allow protests at their events following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed athletes are still banned from protesting at the Olympic Games but Commonwealth Games organisers said they would respect people’s rights to voice their opinions.
“The movement is challenging all institutions to really look introspectively at what we can do to be more fair, more free, have better equality. Sport is no different,” Commonwealth Games chief executive David Grevemberg told reporters yesterday.
“We are comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation and we need to embrace it. We maybe have more responsibility because of the shared history of the Commonwealth so we need to find solutions that don’t build walls but rather build bridges.”
Grevemberg said athlete protests have long been a part of the Commonwealth Games, citing the example of former Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman, who wrapped herself in the Aboriginal flag after winning the 200 and 400 metre races in the 1994 Games. Freeman went on to win the 400 metre race at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, afterwards draping herself in both the Aboriginal and Australian flags.
“The reason her moment was so powerful at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was because of what she did in Victoria in 1994,” Grevemberg added.
Good morning, some cricket news from India to start the day
The Indian Premier League (IPL) could be played behind closed doors as last resort, if that is the only way to save this year’s Twenty20 tournament from falling victim to the coronavirus epidemic, a senior cricket board official said.
The tournament had been scheduled to begin in late March but was indefinitely postponed following the outbreak.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) stands to lose $525 million in revenue if it cannot stage the 2020 edition of the franchise-based league and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly assured members this week that they were exploring “all possible options”.
“If it can be with spectators, we’d ideally want that,” BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal said.
“But if we have to stage it in empty stadiums and there’s no other choice, we might go for that. We’ll try and work out depending on the situation at that point in time.
“But before anything else, we have to have a window available and a clear-cut directive from the government (to go ahead).”
India on Friday reported a total of 297,535 coronavirus infections, surpassing the United Kingdom to become the fourth worst affected country in the world.
The pandemic also jeopardises this year’s Twenty20 World Cup with hosts Cricket Australia conceding the tournament’s October-November schedule was under “very high risk”.
The BCCI has said it would consider slotting IPL in that window should the World Cup be postponed, but the International Cricket Council would not take a call on the fate of the flagship tournament until next month.
“Whatever decision has to happen should happen well in time,” Dhumal said.
“If that tournament is not happening, other boards can decide whether they want to have some bilateral tournament or something else to make up for the loss they have incurred because of the pandemic.”