Sweet-toothed striker Timo Werner on Sunday bagged a hat-trick as RB Leipzig thrashed FSV Mainz 05 to climb back to third place in the Bundesliga and keep their dwindling title hopes just about alive. When asked how he would celebrate the 5-0 win, Werner, 24, told reporters: “There will definitely be some sweets involved.” Julian Nagelsmann’s side sit seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich ahead of the reigning champions’ top-of-the-table clash against second-placed Borussia Dortmund today. Leipzig bounced back from their draw with SC Freiburg the previous weekend in their first match since the COVID-19 lockdown in style, with Werner moving to within three goals of Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski at the top of the Bundesliga scoring chart. Werner, who has been linked with several of Europe’s biggest clubs, has scored 24 league goals this season, including two hat-tricks. Lewandowski on Saturday scored his 27th league goal this season in Bayern’s 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Leipzig’s victory was the 10th win for a visiting team in 18 matches since the Bundesliga restarted in near-empty stadiums. “We could have scored a few more, but no complaints — we’re very happy,” Leipzig sporting director Markus Kroesche told Sky. Werner opened the scoring in the 11th minute, before Yussuf Poulsen marked his 250th appearance for Leipzig by heading home a Marcel Sabitzer cross on 23 minutes. The pair reversed roles for the third when Poulsen laid the ball off for Sabitzer to make it 3-0 before halftime. Werner grabbed his second goal three minutes into the second half when Kevin Kampl played him into the penalty area. The visitors were attacking at will when Kampl had a goal ruled out for offside soon afterward. With 15 minutes left, Poulsen’s floated free-kick was met by Werner, who volleyed past Mainz goalkeeper Florian Mueller to wrap up his hat-trick. Earlier, Augsburg also eased to a comfortable away win
Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili, ranked 27th in the world, was on Sunday charged with physically assaulting his ex-wife, prosecutors said. A court in Tbilisi charged Basilashvili with perpetrating “violence against a family member committed in the presence of a minor,” before releasing him on US$30,000 bail, prosecutor Natia Guruli said. He faces up to three years in prison if found guilty. Basilashvili’s ex-wife, Neka Dorokashvili, on Sunday told Mtavari TV that Basilashvili “physically assaulted” her on Friday in the presence of their five-year-old son. Basilashvili denied the charges, his lawyer Irma Chkadua said. The 28-year-old won his second ATP Tour title at the China Open in 2018 by defeating world No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro in the final, three months after winning the German Open in Hamburg. He went on to defend the Hamburg title last year. In May last year, Basilashvili reached a career high of 16th in the world. Meanwhile, New Zealand is to stage a team-based tennis tournament for local men’s players from Wednesday next week, organizers said yesteray, an event marking the southern hemisphere’s first professional competition since the COVID-19 pandemic brought global sport to a halt. All 112 matches of the “NZ Premier League” are to be played in Auckland without spectators, but broadcast live on TV or YouTube, Tennis New Zealand said. After a strict two-month lockdown, New Zealand has begun easing disease prevention measures and given the green light to some professional sports to restart. “Training without a goal is not possible for professional and competitive athletes,” Tennis New Zealand high performance director Christophe Lambert said in a statement. “The NZ Premier League offers opportunities for our best players to have a home base competitive environment so they are ready to jump back in when the pro circuit starts again, but also for our younger players to get the experience needed to
Tiger Woods on Sunday said that while his surgically repaired back might never be 10 out of 10 again, that would not stop him from being healthy and ready to go when the PGA Tour restarts. The 44-year-old said that he has been able to use the down time during the COVID-19 pandemic to get himself in shape for an expected condensed golf season. “It is going to be interesting,” Woods said at a four-man charity golf tournament in Florida. “I am used to trying to peak for majors in April, May, June and July, forever. Now this has changed everything. It is fluid. It is on the fly.” Asked to rate how his back feels on a scale of one to 10, Woods said: “Well, let’s just say 10 is not what it used to be.” PGA Tour stars Woods and Phil Mickelson, and two NFL quarterback legends Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, squared off in an entertaining made-for-television charity golf event that raised US$20 million for pandemic relief efforts. The 18-hole match included nine holes of four-ball and nine holes of modified alternate shot, with on-course challenges for charitable funds. Woods, who paired with Manning, showed no rust as they held off a back-nine rally from Mickelson and Brady for a 1-up victory. “The Match: Champions for Charity” was a rematch of sorts for Mickelson and Woods, who faced off in a similar charity event last year in Las Vegas. It also marked a return to the golf course for both. The PGA Tour is on hiatus until June 11, when the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is scheduled to begin in Texas. The charity match was the first competitive golf for Woods since the Genesis Invitational on Feb. 16, where he shot weekend rounds of 76 and 77 to finish in 68th place at the Riviera
La Liga president Javier Tebas on Sunday said that players must remember to act responsibly to stop the spread of COVID-19 after four Sevilla players broke the Spanish government’s rules on social gatherings. Argentina trio Ever Banega, Lucas Ocampos and Franco Vazquez, as well as Netherlands striker Luuk de Jong, were pictured at a party alongside eight other people at the weekend. Spain has eased one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe as its COVID-19 infection rate has slowed and the death toll has declined, although gatherings of more than 10 people are still not permitted by the guidelines. The picture, which was posted on Instagram by Banega’s wife, also showed a shisha pipe. “Players are an example to society and should be careful with their actions,” Tebas told Movistar TV. “I call on all footballers to not act like this. We have to be very careful because a lot of people’s jobs are at stake.” “Safety is guaranteed at training grounds and matches, but I’m worried about other places and parties like this. We should all be very cautious,” he added. The players all issued statements to apologize for their behavior, which Sevilla published on the club’s Twitter account. Sevilla did not state whether the players would face disciplinary action and did not respond to a request for comment. All soccer in Spain was suspended on March 12 due to the pandemic, although on Saturday the Spanish government said that the top two divisions could resume from June 8. Sevilla’s derby with Real Betis Balompie is set to be the first La Liga game to be played when the season resumes next month.
Fallen Asian giants Liaoning Hongyun bid farewell to their fans and apologized after they were among 11 clubs disqualified from Chinese soccer because of financial problems. Chinese Super League club Tianjin Tianhai folded earlier this month and now Liaoning, a traditional powerhouse, have similarly dissolved. Liaoning, based in Shenyang, were Asian champions in 1990, and dominated Chinese soccer from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, but in an arc that typifies the boom-and-bust nature of Chinese soccer, not helped by the COVID-19 pandemic, Liaoning have fallen on hard times and finished one place off the foot of the second division last season. The Chinese Football Association threw them out of the professional leagues on Saturday, along with 10 other cash-strapped clubs who owed players wages, and in a subsequent statement the club said it would fold. “The spirit of Liaoning football stands for self-improvement and never gives up,” Liaoning, founded in 1953, wrote on Sina Weibo. “The club has left, but the spirit of Liaoning football lives on. We sincerely thank all the fans from all walks of life who have supported and loved Liaoning Football Club for many years — the media, government leaders, sponsors and so on. We express deep regret and we apologize.” Liaoning were ranked the 10th most valuable team in China by Forbes in 2015-2016. In 2016 they spent 11.5 million euros (US$12.5 million at the current exchange rate) on Nigeria striker Anthony Ujah from Werder Bremen, but the club fell out of the top-tier Chinese Super League in 2017. The players received no salaries last year, former Liaoning chairman Huang Yan admitted, and have launched legal action to recoup their earnings. Shenzhen, coached by former AC Milan midfielder Roberto Donadoni, are to replace Tianjin in the Chinese Super League this season.
NBA championship-winning center Andrew Bogut yesterday announced that he would not be renewing his contract with the Sydney Kings in the NBL, but the 35-year-old Australian said in a social media post that he was “by no means” retiring yet, just taking time to consider his options given the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have decided not to sign with the Sydney Kings, or any professional sporting team for that matter for the time being,” Bogut wrote on Twitter. “With everything going on in the world, the future does not look too clear, most notably in regards to sporting leagues worldwide. This by no means is a retirement note, but simply saying any concrete decisions are too hard to be made at this point in time.” Bogut signed a two-year contract with the Kings in 2018 following a 13-year NBA career capped when he won the championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2015. He was the NBL’s Most Valuable Player in the 2018-2019 season and the Kings made it to the league’s grand final this year before the season was ended prematurely by the pandemic. Bogut said that he had enjoyed spending the lockdown with his wife and “learning more about my kids than I ever could have previously.” “The plan moving forward? Spending time with my wife and kids, slowly getting back into physical shape, and finally making the most of the time we don’t traditionally get at home,” he wrote. Bogut was the NBA’s top draft pick in 2005 and spent seven seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before being traded to Golden State.
CLOSED SPACE: The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, has three arenas and 24,000 hotel rooms. Major League Soccer is also eyeing the facility
The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Saturday said that it is in “exploratory” talks with The Walt Disney Co about a late-July restart at a Disney resort in Florida. NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed earlier reports that the league is having conversations with Disney officials about restarting the 2019-2020 season in Orlando, Florida. “The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” Bass said. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” he said. The NBA on March 11 suspended its season indefinitely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ESPN reported that the NBA has a board of governors virtual meeting set for Friday. The call is expected to provide additional details for players and coaches on plans to proceed with the restart. Las Vegas has also been mentioned as a potential host. There are still plenty of issues to resolve before the season can restart, including whether the league will play the rest of the regular season or go straight into playoffs. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with three arenas and 24,000 hotel rooms, would allow the league to restart play in a closed-door environment. The complex has previously hosted the Junior NBA World Championships. Major League Soccer is also looking at using the facility at the same time as the NBA. ESPN said that most club executives believe NBA commissioner Adam Silver will next month give the go-ahead to a return to play,
The Rakuten Monkeys remained atop the CPBL table, despite a 5-7 loss to the Uni-President Lions in Taoyuan yesterday, while the CTBC Brothers fell to the Fubon Guardians at the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium. The visiting Guardians blasted three home runs in their 7-3 triumph, helping Dominican pitcher Henry Sosa pocket his second win of the season. Improving his record to 2-2, Sosa sailed through seven innings, allowing six hits while striking out five. He gave up one earned run in the opening frame, with two Brothers relievers mopping up the final two innings. Fubon’s marquee stars, designated hitter Hu Chin-lung and first baseman Lin Yi-chuan, hit solo homers, but it was the three-run shot by shortstop Lee Chung-hsien that did most of the damage in their fourth-inning surge. The visitors stayed ahead for rest of the contest. All three homers came against CTBC’s Cuban lefty starter Ariel Miranda, who was tagged with the loss. He lasted only five innings, yielding six runs, four of them earned. His team used four relievers. Pinch hitter Hsu Ji-hong gave his team some cause for celebration, breaking a long slump as he clobbered a two-run dinger late in the game. Hsu scored two of CTBC’s three runs in the contest. For the Lions, outfielder Su Chi-chieh slammed a solo shot to extend his team’s league record of hitting a home run in 22 straight games. However, with their power hitting in the early-season encounters, the Monkeys remained in first place on 16 wins and six defeats, while the other three teams were all below .500 after yesterday’s results. With this month being affected by rain, most of the games last week were rained out. The main topic of discussion amid the washouts was the CPBL’s “juiced ball” controversy. Since spring training and the start of the season early last month, home run numbers have shot up, with
The peculiarly British sports of croquet and bowls are taking baby steps to return from the COVID-19 lockdown, away from the glare of publicity. Both conjure up images of elderly people pitting their wits against each other on lush lawns, with social interaction a big factor. The British government’s easing of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus paved the way for croquet and bowls to resume. The Croquet Association welcomed the chance to start up again, marketing itself as an ideal sport in unusual times. “Media reports on lockdown easing have focused on sports like golf, tennis and basketball, with the glaring omission of croquet, which is the perfect social-distancing sport,” the association said in a statement. “A croquet court is twice the size of a tennis court, so playing against a member of your household, or one other person from outside your household, is no problem at all.” Croquet — which has two forms, golf croquet and association croquet — is seen as quintessentially English. Former British prime minister Winston Churchill replaced a tennis court at his Chartwell home with a croquet lawn. However, the origin of the sport is disputed by Jonathan Isaacs, chairman of the Croquet Association council. “All I can say is that in the Bayeux Tapestry there is an image of a person with a mallet, hoops and ball, so the indications are it came over with William the Conqueror” in 1066, he told reporters. Isaacs said that the coronavirus shutdown had proved a headache, but he remained upbeat about the future of the sport. “Fortunately, as a governing body we have pretty robust finances behind us and we had enough money in a contingency fund to be able to say: ‘Yeah, we can see a way through this’ and offer loans to clubs who have problems,” he
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has said he should have quit the job early last year after Rugby Australia brought in Scott Johnson as director of rugby and introduced a three-man selection panel. Cheika stayed in the job until the World Cup in Japan later in the year and quit after the Wallabies were thrashed 40-16 by England in the quarter-finals. However, the 53-year-old yesterday told Britain’s the Times that he should have stood down earlier, because he felt that Rugby Australia’s management had lost confidence in him. “In a footy team, there can only be one boss, that’s all there is to it,” Cheika told the newspaper. “I should have left because that shows they didn’t trust me anymore.” Rugby Australia appointed Johnson following a review into the Wallabies’ 2018 season, when they lost nine of their 13 Test matches and there were suggestions Cheika would be sacked. The former Leinster and New South Wales Waratahs coach said that while he did not agree with the decision to appoint Johnson, he had felt he could get the team to perform well enough to clinch their third World Cup title in Japan. “I loved Australian rugby and I thought I could do it, I believed I could get the players together and I didn’t want to let the players and the supporters down,” Cheika said. “I tried to manage it the best way I could without being out of order,” he said. “If you cause turbulence at that point, everyone feels it and I didn’t need everyone to feel the turbulence in the team,” he said. “You have to deal with it internally.” However, Cheika ended his tenure as coach with a parting shot at the Rugby Australia management, saying he had virtually no relationship with then-chief executive officer Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne, who have both since
BASEBALL Nationals cancel ceremony The Washington Nationals on Saturday said that they were canceling plans for a virtual World Series ring ceremony. “The players collectively decided they would prefer to receive their rings when the team could be physically reunited,” a spokesman for the club said. “We support that decision.” With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start of the Major League Baseball season, the Nationals had made plans for a virtual presentation yesterday. The Nationals claimed their first World Series championship in October last year by beating the Houston Astros in seven games. PREMIER LEAGUE COVID-19 cases reported Two people from two Premier League clubs have tested positive for COVID-19 after a second batch of testing, the Premier League said on Saturday. Since the players returned to limited group training on Tuesday, eight positive tests for the novel coronavirus have been confirmed from England’s top-flight clubs. “The Premier League can today confirm that on Tuesday 19 May, Thursday 21 May and Friday 22 May, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” the statement said. “The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.” The Premier League said it would not be providing details of the identities of the two new positive tests. A total of 748 tests of players and club staff made up the initial round of testing on May 17 and 18. Watford’s Adrian Mariappa and two members of the club’s non-playing staff and Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan were among six positive tests. They were all still in their seven-day isolation period. No matches have been played in the Premier League since March, but the British government
PANDEMIC HYGIENE: Players had their temperatures checked, carried their own equipment and towels, and tapped rackets to congratulate the match winners
Alison Riske and Danielle Collins of the US and Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic were among the winners on Friday, the opening day of a women’s tennis mini-tournament in Florida that offered professional players an opportunity to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The WTA women’s tennis tour canceled four more events this week and is not to resume until at least July 20. However, four women ranked in the top 60 in the world turned out for the UTR Pro Match Series event in Palm Beach, which followed a similar event for men two weeks ago. World No. 51 Collins toppled 28th-ranked compatriot Amanda Anisimova in the opening match 4-1, 4-2 and said that she was “grateful” to be back on the court even with no fans in attendance. “I’m familiar with playing without fans, but I definitely miss it,” she said. “One of the things that makes it so special to be a professional athlete is having people supporting you.” Tomljanovic, ranked 56th, defeated 19th-ranked Riske 4-3, 4-1 and in the final round-robin match of the day, Riske beat Anisimova 0-4, 4-0, 4-3. The tournament was to conclude yesterday with more round-robin matches, as well as a contest for third place and a championship match. All are played in a shortened format in which the first player to four games with a two-game lead pockets a set. “Just getting into the competitive spirit again kind of got me really excited today,” Tomljanovic said, adding that her first few weeks off had been a welcome break, but when she felt the need to return to training it was difficult to find motivation with no tournaments scheduled. “I need that competition to keep me going,” she said. Players had their temperatures taken upon arrival at the venue, and carried their own equipment and towels onto the court. With social distancing in place, a racket
Uncertainty grips next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Games: Will there be fans or empty stadiums in 14 months? How will thousands of athletes, staff members and technical officials travel, be housed and stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic? And the Tokyo Games are not the only event. China, where COVID-19 was first detected, is to hold three mega-sports events in the year after the Tokyo Olympics are set to close. The World University Games in Chengdu, China, are to open, with up to 8,000 athletes, only 10 days after the Tokyo Games close. Next come the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Feb. 4, 2022, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, from Sept. 10. The previous edition of the Asian Games, hosted by the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang in 2018, drew 11,000 athletes and featured more sports than the Olympic Games. A fourth major event, soccer’s 24-team Club World Championship, was to open in China in June next year, but it has been postponed because of scheduling conflicts created by the pandemic. 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. The country spent at least US$40 billion to organize the 2008 Olympics, and there was no national debate since the authoritarian state prohibits voting or referendums. Europeans and North Americans have repeatedly voted down referendums to host the Games. China landed the 2022 Winter Olympics when several European bidders withdrew. Beijing won narrowly in a vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) against Almaty, Kazakhstan. “Telling the citizens of Bavaria or Switzerland that another Winter Olympics would benefit them greatly doesn’t work,” said Jonathan Grix, who studies sports policy at Manchester Metropolitan University. “Voters sense that citizens rarely benefit the most from such events,” Grix added. “Authoritarian states have no need to ask the populace,
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson insists that he has felt “very safe” since his club returned to training amid the COVID-19 pandemic this week. Juergen Klopp’s side began socially distanced training in small groups on Wednesday, as the English Premier League steps up its bid to resume the season in June. Although all players and staff members at top-flight clubs have been tested for the virus, Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Watford striker Troy Deeney opted against returning to work because of fears that they would not be safe. However, England midfielder Henderson is sure that everything has been done to keep players as safe as possible at Liverpool’s Melwood training base. “I feel very comfortable with all the measures that the Premier League and the club have put in place, along with my teammates,” Henderson told Sky Sports on Thursday. “The testing, the temperature control, the social distancing and disinfecting everything has been at a really high level since we’ve been back. They’re doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible.” “We do feel comfortable and that’s why we’re here training,” Henderson added. “I feel very safe at the training ground, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Last weekend, the Bundesliga returned to action and Henderson is hopeful that contact training and then a resumption of Premier League games is to follow. “We want to follow the right protocol and follow the next steps,” Henderson said. “We want to start bigger group training and then hopefully start playing games again, sooner rather than later — whenever it’s safe to do so.” Henderson said he understood the decision of players at other clubs who have stayed away. “I fully respect their opinion. Everyone is in a different situation at home and, ultimately, if you don’t feel comfortable, you shouldn’t feel forced or pressured to come into work,” he
Hosts Hertha BSC on Friday claimed Berlin derby bragging rights over 1. FC Union Berlin with a convincing 4-0 victory in their almost empty 74,000-capacity Olympiastadion. Hertha moved up to 10th place after the opening match of the second round of games since the Bundesliga restarted last week under strict coronavirus measures thanks to second-half goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Dodi Lukebakio, Matheus Cunha and Dedryck Boyata. “It would have been fantastic if we could have played a game like that in front of 75,000 spectators, but I hope that the fans at least had fun in front of their TVs,” Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia said. “In the first half we played very well against well-organized opponents. I had to make that clear to my team at halftime because they were feeling a bit negative. By the end, we were happy because these were important points in the relegation battle.” Labbadia, in his first home match in charge, started midfielder Vladimir Darida in the only change from their win at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday last week. Union’s Urs Fischer, who guided the east Berlin outfit to the top-flight for the first time this season, brought in four fresh faces to his starting lineup after their loss to champions Bayern Munich on Sunday last week. A minute of silence was held in the eerily quiet ground before the match began in remembrance of all of the country’s COVID-19 victims. The best chance of the opening 20 minutes, which were dominated by Labbadia’s players, fell to winger Lukebakio, but his effort was stopped by Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz. Labbadia’s side continued their dominance into the second half. Lukebakio was stopped two minutes into second half, again by Gikiewicz, before captain Ibisevic headed home a powerful opener. Just 70 seconds later, Hertha doubled their lead as forward Ibisevic fed Lukebakio, who
Italy’s heritage authority raised no objections to tearing down Milan’s 1920s-era San Siro arena, a document seen by Reuters showed, removing a major obstacle to the city’s top-flight soccer club’s plans to replace it with a new stadium. Serie A clubs AC Milan and Inter, respectively owned by US fund Elliott and Chinese electronics retailer Suning, last year filed a request to jointly build a new 60,000-seater stadium in the San Siro area. The new stadium is the key element in a wider 1.2 billion euro (US$1.31 billion) real-estate plan for the district, which includes demolishing almost the entire historic San Siro arena, home ground of both the city’s top-flight clubs. Although approval from heritage authorities is not the final decision, it is an important step toward implementing the plan. According to an opinion from the authority to the Milan municipality, which owns the site, the arena does not have any architectural significance that would prevent its demolition. Following several redevelopments, only a small remnant of the oldest part of the stadium, built in 1926, is left. The clubs and the municipality have been in talks for months to try to find a compromise over plans to replace the nearly century-old arena. City representatives, including Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, had repeatedly questioned plans to tear down the San Siro and the clubs have modified initial projects that would have seen the entire stadium demolished. The plans under discussion include tearing down most of the old arena, but keeping part of it as a kind of city landmark around which the clubs would build a new sports complex available to the public.
NO EXEMPTION: ‘This isn’t just 90 minutes of an exciting sporting race. This is about getting an industry back to work,’ Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said
Formula One’s hopes of hosting two races at Silverstone were on Friday dealt a blow as the sport was not handed any exemption to the British government’s plans to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the country. The measures are to be introduced from June 8 to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but would be reviewed every three weeks, meaning that an agreement could still be found in time for the two races at Silverstone to go ahead in July. The sport earlier this week stressed the need for a quarantine exemption by highlighting the effect that the new rules would have on “tens of thousands of jobs linked to F1 and supply chains.” However, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle is hopeful that an agreement can be reached that allows both races to go ahead. “I am very clear that the importance of the industry is understood by the government,” he told Sky Sports. “So I remain optimistic that a sensible and pragmatic solution, which puts the onus on the sport quite rightly to come up with the right solution, can be found.” Seven of the 10 teams on the F1 grid have bases in England. “This isn’t just 90 minutes of an exciting sporting race. This is about getting an industry back to work,” Pringle added. “This is about 40-plus thousand people’s livelihoods being ignited. The racing is at the very top of the pinnacle. Formula 1 is absolutely the top of the motorsport tree — it’s the bit that we see and it’s the most visible bit, but it’s the stand-bearer for this industry and it’s about getting an industry started again.” The sports’ organizers are hoping to start the season with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 behind closed doors, followed by a second race at the Red Bull Ring
Alex Hales deserves a “second chance” with England after being sent into international exile as a result of recreational drug use, Chris Woakes has said. Opening batsman Hales was dropped from the Cricket World Cup squad shortly before last year’s tournament after it emerged that he had tested positive for drugs. England went on to win the event on home soil in dramatic fashion without him and he has not played international cricket since. Despite his months in the wilderness, there is speculation that Hales could be in line for a white-ball recall. England are set to announce separate Test and one-day squads as they bid to complete a full international home program against the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia is still scheduled to take place later this year. Asked about the prospect of Hales playing for England again, Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes told reporters on Friday: “I don’t know 100 percent if it’s the right decision — it’s not my call — but I’m a believer that people serve their time, so to speak. He’s gone through a tough time being left out of the World Cup and going on to see that team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him.” “I think if people have gone away for a time and worked on their weaknesses, they should be allowed a second chance,” Woakes added. Nottinghamshire’s Hales was the second-highest run-scorer in Australia’s most recent Big Bash and has three of the five highest scores in England’s T20 history, including the highest of 116 not out against Sri Lanka. His 171 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2018 is second only to Jason Roy’s 180 as England’s highest individual score in one-day internationals. It was only earlier this month that England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan said
Celtics forward Grant Williams is accustomed to having roommates. It was only a year ago that the 21-year-old rookie was sharing living space as a college student during his final season at the University of Tennessee, so when Celtics teammate Kemba Walker invited Williams to join him at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, shortly after the NBA went on its pandemic hiatus, Williams jumped at the offer. “It’s been amazing,” Williams said. “Just hanging out, relaxing, being able to get to know each other better, as well as work out together. We’re here, we’re isolating on our own means... It was just a great decision.” Williams, who grew up in the Charlotte area, was initially debating whether to remain in Boston or join his family in North Carolina at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, but that would have meant being close to his grandparents and potentially putting them at a higher risk of contracting the disease. “For as much as I talk, I’m glad that he even considered it,” Williams said of Walker’s invitation. The warmer weather in Charlotte, as compared with Boston, has allowed Williams to use Walker’s outdoor court and other spaces to work on his ball handling and his shooting. He has also been going through workouts given to him by the Celtics’ trainers. “I feel like a lot of us are going to be prepared when we get back,” Williams said. “No matter how soon it will be, we’re going to speed up to the peak shape that we can be at and as healthy as we can be, too.” One scenario being looked at by NBA officials for a restart is for Eastern Conference teams to be based in Orlando and play their games at the vast Disney Wide World of Sports complex. That facility is equipped with much of the
Kyle Busch is NASCAR’s reigning Cup champion and the resident villain of the series, while Chase Elliott has been voted most popular driver for the past two years and is quickly building a loyal and rabid fan base. Their on-track tussle at Darlington Raceway last week might be the start of a much-needed new rivalry in the sport. Busch admittedly misjudged a gap and unintentionally wrecked Elliott in what turned out to be the final green-flag lap of Wednesday night’s race. Elliott crashed, climbed out of his car, waved off medical personnel and waited on the apron for Busch to circle the track under caution — as Busch passed, Elliott gave him a long, middle-finger salute. The tension did not end there, as rain opened up over the South Carolina track moments after the incident and the drivers were told to bring their cars to pit road, where a group of Elliott’s team members stared Busch down. Among them was Elliott crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was Busch’s crew chief when Busch drove for Hendrick Motorsports early in his career. Busch was informed over his radio that he had a welcoming committee waiting for him, and one of his own Joe Gibbs Racing crew members sat on the wall directly next to Gustafson as a de facto bodyguard. A NASCAR official eventually told all of the mask-clad crew members to get back over the wall, the race was called because of rain and Busch appeared to have a civil discussion with Gustafson. NASCAR once thrived behind strong rivalries, but they have lessened over the years into brief feuds or spats. Busch had an ongoing issue with Brad Keselowski for several years, while Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin both tangled with Joey Logano. However, nothing has developed into anything like the battles between Richard Petty and David Pearson, or how