Skater sparks Puccini fever
Puccini's opera Turandot is enjoying a sudden surge in popularity in Japan after figure skater Shizuka Arakawa's spellbinding performance to its Violin Fantasy earned Japan's only Olympic gold. CDs have been flying off the shelves of Universal Music Japan's Princess and Prince on the Ice, a compilation of figure-skating numbers from Turin that includes the Puccini. "We have received 10,000 additional orders since the CD's release on Feb. 22. It is a splendid achievement for classical music," said Hiroko Kawachi at the classics and jazz section at Universal Music Japan. A classical CD rarely sells more than 10,000 copies in Japan, she said. Arakawa beat Sasha Cohen of the US and two-time world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia to become the first Asian woman to take home the gold in figure-skating.
McGrath pulls out of series
Fast bowler Glenn McGrath ruled himself out of Australia's cricket Test series against South Africa for family reasons yesterday, Australian Associated Press reported. McGrath made himself unavailable for the current limited overs series in South Africa, choosing to remain in Australia to be with wife Jane, who is fighting cancer. McGrath told the Sydney radio station 2KY he would not be available for the March Test series because of ongoing family commitments, AAP reported. The first Test begins at Cape Town on March 16.
■ Cricket World Cup
Antipodes launch 2011 bid
New Zealand and Australia completed a joint bid for cricket's 2011 World Cup, officials said yesterday. Representatives of both countries worked for four weeks at New Zealand Cricket's Christchurch headquarters to prepare a 258-page bid document, which will be presented to the International Cricket Council in Dubai today. "We have created a really good submission which is designed to really leave no doubt in the mind of any ICC members about our ability to produce the best possible event," New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden said. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have indicated they will also make a joint bid to host the Cup but have asked the ICC for an extension on Wednesday's bid deadline to supply more information. The ICC board is expected to decide on March 20 which bid to recommend, and the final decision on the Cup venue will be made at the ICC general meeting in July.
Pele tuts at Ronaldo's life
Pele says Ronaldo's off-field issues have held back his career. "Ronaldo has proved to be a good player with all those titles, but he tends to lose his way," said the Brazilian soccer great and FIFA ambassador, who was appearing on Monday at a World Cup promotional event. "He could have been a better player had he not been affected by troubles off the pitch," Pele said, describing Ronaldo's personal life as "so confused." Ronaldo helped Brazil win the World Cup and has been voted world player of the year three times and European player of the year twice. He has 94 goals in 143 appearances for his Spanish team Real Madrid. Yet the 29-year-old has recently drawn controversy for saying he was considering leaving Madrid because he was unappreciated by the team's fans. Pele was quoted by the English-language Shanghai Daily as urging Ronaldo to be patient with fans, and warned that changing teams at this stage in his career could be tricky.