Sport’s return from lockdown: Rafael Nadal says Novak Djokovic will need to be vaccinated if made obligatory – The Telegraph

Rafael Nadal says Novak Djokovic will need to be vaccinated to keep playing if tennis’ governing bodies make coronavirus shots obligatory once they become available.

Nadal told the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia that Djokovic and all players will have to follow the rules when tennis eventually returns to action.

Nadal said no one can be forced to take the vaccine and everyone should be free to make their choices, but all players will have to comply if tennis officials require “vaccination to travel” and to “protect” everyone on the tour.

“Then Djokovic will have to be vaccinated if he wants to keep playing tennis at the top level,” Nadal said. “The same for me. Everyone will have to follow the rules, just like now we have to stay at home.”

Djokovic recently said he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus even if it became mandatory to travel. He later said he was open to changing his mind.

“If the ATP or the International Tennis Federation obligates us to take the vaccine to play tennis, then we will have to do it,” Nadal said.

The Spaniard compared it to the restrictions players already have on medicines because of doping controls. “It’s about following the rules, nothing more than that,” he said.

Djokovic on Monday broke confinement rules in Spain after a local club said it mistakenly allowed him to practice on one of its courts.

Nadal recently said he was pessimistic about the return of tennis in 2020. He said that if given the option, he would scrap this season entirely so tennis could resume normally in 2021.

‘The gloves will be off…’

A fiery Premier League meeting is expected on Monday. Among the issues raised will be:

  • Lack of player consultation
  • Growing self-interest among clubs
  • A lack of leadership from the Premier League

Read our report, from Matt Law and John Percy.

“If football can get results in this amount of time, why can’t everybody?”

Premier League clubs have been told to expect the results of their coronavirus tests in 24 hours – less than those carried out on key workers. That has led to more criticism of ‘Project Restart’.

Matt Law and Sam Wallace have the exclusive story.

A return for live football

Jim White tuned into the BBC’s coverage of the K-League earlier today. Even a wearisome VAR delay warmed his heart.

Credit: REUTERS

Golf returns to South Korea

A women’s tournament in South Korea will be the first competitive golf played since the season was interrupted by Coronavirus, reports James Corrigan. Read the full story here.

Debate will rage around UFC’s return

UFC 249 takes place at a sealed-off Florida hotel on Saturday evening. Read Gareth A Davies’ take on the event and why UFC is used to being an outlaw sport.

Justin Gaethje is headlining this weekend’s event Credit: Zuffa LLC 

No VAR and five subs

Fifa have confirmed two big temporary rules changes for when football returns. One is that five substitutes will be allowed per game and the other is that each competition can choose whether to drop VAR for the remainder of the season.

You can read all the details in Mike McGrath’s story here.

Credit: REUTERS

England women seeking mental health support

Katie Whyatt has been surveying the Women’s Super League, to find out which clubs are offering mental health support to players. These are the results.

New Zealand rugby sack half their staff

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) will lay off half their full-time staff and have the other half reapply for their jobs as part of cost-cutting to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re working through consultation with our people at the moment on that and it’s obviously a challenging time for rugby so we are taking all steps to make sure we communicate directly with our staff,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told Radio New Zealand.

The report comes despite optimism in the governing body that elite rugby competition, suspended since March, will be given the green light to restart as early as Monday when the government decides whether to ease social restrictions.

Robinson said NZR was dealing with “an incredibly challenging time”, and like other businesses in challenging positions because of Covid-19 it was seeing a significant reduction of revenue through the course of the year. In late March Robinson estimated that NZR would lose NZ$100 million (£49.52 million) in revenue this year if no elite rugby was played due to Covid-19.

An NZR spokeswoman said on Friday the governing body was involved in consultations and declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters. NZR staff had already had their pay cut 20% last month. All rugby has been suspended across the country since March, leading to pay cuts for players and staff cuts at the country’s five professional Super Rugby clubs and at community level.

Decision expected on French qualification for women’s Champions League

Division 1 Féminine, the highest tier of women’s football in France, is expected to make an announcement on May 11th regarding which teams will qualify for next season’s Women’s Champions League (Katie Whyatt writes). 

Usually, the league’s top two teams qualify for the Champions League: the winner of the Challenge de France, the female equivalent of the Coupe de France, does not. The remainder of the Division 1 Feminine was ended last month due to the coronavirus crisis, with Lyon leading on 44 points, PSG second on 41 and Bordeaux third on 37, all having played 16 games. 

It is understood that an outcome has been formulated to finalise the league standings based on a points-to-match ratio.

Telegraph Sport understands that, with the season now finished, the French Football Federation – which oversees the league – must submit a proposal for approval by Uefa to justify which clubs will take the two Champions League spots. This could take any form – points per game ratios, play-offs, taking the table as it stands – as long as the underlying principle is perceived by Uefa to be one of sporting merit.

‘I now feel I am being harassed’

Kyle Walker has responded to criticism of his second (and third) lockdown breaches. Read what he had to say here.

Credit: PA

Coronavirus testing bill of £8m to bring Leagues One and Two to a close

Credit: CameraSport

It includes quotes from Gary Neville, the co-owner of League Two outfit Salford City, who believes a resumption is “extremely unlikely”.

Carragher: ‘Clubs must stop bleating about sporting integrity’

Jamie Carragher’s column explains why neutral venues are the safest option, even if it risks supposed “sporting integrity”.

At the start of every Premier League season, the 20 clubs broadly agree sporting integrity exists, everyone playing each other home and away and accepting ‘the league table never lies’ in May.

But within those eight months, anyone imaginative enough can find multiple reasons why the playing field is far from level across 380 fixtures.

Read the full column here.

Premier League to spend £4m on test kits

Government has given strong indication that it wants football season to be completed, Sam Wallace reports, and players will be tested twice weekly with privately-sourced kits. Read more here.

Indian cricketers prepared for quarantine in Australia

India captain Virat Kohli and his team mates would be ready to spend two weeks in quarantine in Australia if that helped the tour go ahead as planned later this year, a top official of the Indian board has said.

A cash-strapped Cricket Australia (CA) is banking heavily on the series, reportedly worth A$300 million ($195 million), to help it cope with an acute financial crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) treasurer Arun Dhumal offered encouraging words, saying India cricketers would be willing to isolate themselves before playing four tests and three one-day internationals in December and January.

“There is no choice – everyone will have to do that. You would want to resume the cricket,” Dhumal told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The boards have been discussing the possibility of a fifth test but Dhumal felt playing extra limited-overs matches would make more financial sense.

“If there is a window available it would be up to the boards to decide whether they wanted to go for a test match or maybe two ODIs or maybe two T20s.

“Given the revenue loss they will have on account of lockdown, post-lockdown they will want to have revenue and revenue most likely will come from ODIs or T20s much more than a test match.”

Dhumal was less optimistic about the preceding Twenty20 World Cup and did not fancy a flagship tournament in Australia featuring players who are still rusty as they emerge from the lockdown.

“Would you want to be without training for that long and straight away go and play (the) World Cup?” he said.

“That is a call every board has to take. It seems to be difficult.”

The BCCI has had to indefinitely postponed its own cash-cow Indian Premier League (IPL) and Dhumal said an alternative window for the tournament was yet to be identified.

“Once things get clear, then only will we be able to go back to the drawing board and think about re-starting cricket.”

Football’s return good for nation as a whole

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has urged caution over the Premier League’s plans to play out the rest of the season behind closed doors.

Dowden is set for further meetings with top-flight officials next week at which the option of playing games without fans is expected to top the agenda.

But asked about the prospect, Dowden told BBC Radio 4: “They’ve not got the green light.

“If we can get a plan that works then I’d like us to be able to go ahead with it because I think it would be good for the nation, it would be good for football as a whole.

“I’m really hopeful we can get this up and running but public safety must come first so it’s only if we’re confident of that that we’ll be able to proceed.”

Woods, Mickelson, Manning and Brady showdown set for May 24

The coronavirus relief golf match featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will be on May 24 at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports said on Thursday. The sanctioned PGA Tour event, which is being dubbed The Match: Champions for Charity, will begin at 7pm GMT and the four golfers will come together to make a charitable donation of $10 million to benefit coronavirus relief.

Heavily-restricted NBA practices expected to resume on Friday

NBA teams are expected to get the go-ahead to reopen practice facilities for limited use as early as Friday, less than two months after the coronavirus outbreak forced the suspension of the season. With head and assistant coaches barred and scrimmages forbidden, the workouts are unlikely to resemble business as usual for the NBA but would nonetheless be a step towards normality for a league whose season was upended in dramatic fashion in March.

Fighters tested on arrival ahead of UFC return in Florida

Fighters taking part in Saturday’s UFC 249 card in Jacksonville, Florida have been tested on arrival and many have been isolating in their rooms as the mixed martial arts promotion prepares to to get back to business in the wake of the pandemic. The event was scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn, New York, but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. A bid to stage the card on tribal lands in California was aborted when UFC came under pressure from Disney, which owns broadcast partner ESPN.

Ferdinand says there is no happy solution

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand believes there is no viable resolution to the resumption of the 2019-20 season that will satisfy all 20 Premier League clubs.

Top-flight clubs are understood to have been told that the use of eight to 10 neutral grounds is the only way to complete the campaign in a way which satisfies the Government and emergency services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber is among those opposed to the idea, with his club hovering two points above the drop zone with nine fixtures remaining – five of which would have been at home.

Ferdinand told the PA news agency: “The Premier League are in a position where they’re not going to please everybody. There are going to be people whose noses are put out of joint.

“Teams in the relegation zone [will be] saying ‘we were relying on our home form with the backing of our fans to make sure that we remain in this league’, which you can understand.

“But we’re in uncharted territory and we’ve never been here before so to expect that the Premier League and the FA are going to have an absolute resolution for this that’s going to suit all parties would be very, very naive.

“People are going to feel at a disadvantage if certain decisions are made but I don’t think the Premier League can have a wholehearted 100 per cent win on this no matter what decision they make, which is unfortunate.”

Player welfare is an issue that could dominate the agenda if the Premier League presses ahead with its plans to complete the season.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Brighton counterpart Glenn Murray have raised objections from a safety point of view.

While Ferdinand sympathises with their concerns, he thinks the players must put their faith in medical staff at clubs as well as the Premier League, the Football Association and the Government to act in their best interests.

Speaking at the launch of Amplify Pro, Ferdinand added: “In any situation and any walk of life the not knowing and uncertainty always leads to an element of fear and this is no different from anything else.

“It’s understandable but I think the players will need to be putting their trust in the medical staffs at their clubs.

“The Premier League, the FA and the Government, if all of those three bodies give it the green light then I’m sure the players’ protection, health and well-being will be at the top of their agenda to make sure they remain healthy and not at risk.

“That’s where the players’ trust has to lie and they’ve got to believe that these powers that be are doing it for the right reasons and that’s that health is at the forefront of everything.”

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