International cricket's tsunami appeal fund was given a US$764,000 boost by finance company Travelex yesterday, four days before a World XI faces Asia's best in a one-day cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the donation was a morale booster for organizers of the charity match, who have faced major logistical problems in setting up the event at short notice.
Sutherland said organizers now knew the MCG match would at least make a tangible difference to tsunami victims.
"Pulling a match of this scale together in little over a week has been a mammoth task, which has only been possible because of the goodwill of so many organizations and individuals," he said in a statement.
The Jan. 10 match is expected to make about US$5 million, including gate takings at the 78,000 capacity MCG, international broadcast rights and the proceeds of a concurrent telethon organized by Australian host broadcaster Channel Nine.
Almost 41,500 tickets had been sold for the match in just two days and organizers are confident of a sell-out.
Leading women tennis stars have observed a minute's silence ahead of a Hong Kong invitational on Wednesday in honor of the thousands killed in the Asian tsunamis.
Top players including Russia's Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams of the US paid their respects to the thousands who perished in the Dec. 26 tragedy.
They will also donate to a fund-raising auction signed racquets and other souvenirs from the Hong Kong Challenge, which began on Wednesday in the city's Victoria Park Tennis Center.
Sharapova had already donated US$10,000 to the Thai government's victim relief fund during an exhibition event last week in Bangkok.
The Hong Kong tournament will see Williams, her sister Serena and Sharapova play in round-robin singles and doubles competitions with US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, French and US Open finalist Elena Dementieva, world number 11 Vera Zvonareva, up-and coming Czech star Nicole Vaidisova and Spanish veteran Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
A minute of silence will be observed this weekend in Portugal before each first and second division football match as a mark of respect for the victims of the Asian tsunami, the Portuguese Football Federation said on Wednesday in a statement.
Earlier this month the the president of the federation, Gilberto Madail, said Portugal plans to host a football match between its national team and a squad made up of players from Asian nations.
He told Radio Renascenca the goal is to hold the match by Jan. 15 at Lisbon's 65,000-seat Stadium of Light and the proceeds of ticket sales would go to charities working to aid survivors.
FIFA, world soccer's governing body, has set up a US$3 million fund to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and revive soccer in the devastated nations.
"As the international community has already raised such a substantial amount of money, FIFA has decided to concentrate on reconstructing the footballing infrastructure in the affected areas," it said in a statement.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) called on former players to help with "distribution efforts in the affected region."