■ Auto Racing
Loeb leads in Cyprus
Sebastian Loeb, the defending World Rally champion, led at the end of the first of three days at the grueling Cyprus Rally. Driving a Citroen along the twisting, narrow dirt tracks of the Troodos Mountains, Loeb finished more than 2 minutes ahead of second-place teammate Manfred Stohl of Austria. Norway's Henning Solberg, in a Subaru, was a minute further back. "I've made a good start -- no punctures, no problems," Loeb said on Friday. "I just want to make sure that we keep going like this." Peugeot suffered a blow when Marcus Gronholm, who won last year's event before being disqualified, was forced to pull out with a broken cam belt. His withdrawal dents Peugeot's chances of defending its 11-point lead over Citroen in the manufacturers' standings.
NHL players' won't meet
The NHL Players' Association will not hold a scheduled membership meeting at the end of the month because there has been little change in negotiations with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement. The decision was made on Friday after union leaders held a conference call with team representatives. "In early April, when we set the May 24-26 meeting dates, we thought these dates would work well to allow both North American and European based players to get together," said NHLPA president Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks. "Since our late-February meeting with 156 players in Toronto, we decided there is not sufficient new information to justify another meeting at this time."
World Cup bids entered
Japan, New Zealand and South Africa will bid for the right to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the International Rugby Board said in Dublin, Ireland on Friday. The IRB said it would visit the countries in June and July and will report its findings to Rugby World Cup Ltd. The IRB council selects the host in November 2005. "We have three bids of substance -- three excellent bids -- and we're very pleased," RWCL chairman Syd Millar said. South Africa hosted and won the 1995 World Cup. New Zealand hosted and won the inaugural World Cup in 1987 but was stripped of its status as co-host for 2003 after a row over the provision of space for corporate advertising.
Germany to host event
Germany will host 2010 men's World Hockey Championship, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced in Vienna, Austria on Friday. The venues will be Cologne and Mannheim. Germany beat Belarus by 89 votes to 18 at the IIHF's annual conference. Slovakia withdrew from the contest before the congress, while Sweden withdrew before the vote. Both countries postponed their bids until next year, when the congress will allocate the 2011 championship. Germany has hosted the World Championship six times, most recently in 2001. It also hosted the 1936 Olympic hockey tournament that counted as a World Championship. The 2008 event will take place in Quebec City and Halifax, Canada, while Switzerland will host in 2009.