Host cities cut to three
The chase to host the 2020 Summer Games was reduced to a three-horse race between Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo after Doha and the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, were dropped from the running by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday. The announcement in a packed Quebec City ballroom brought smiles, but few cheers, from the surviving cities because all three know the challenges that lie ahead having previously cleared the first hurdle with recent bids. Next for Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo is 16 months of campaigning as they try to convince the IOC they are up to the task of staging the world’s biggest sporting spectacle. The high stakes run-off reaches the finish line in Buenos Aires in September next year, when the IOC will vote on the 2020 host city.
ECB fines Kevin Pietersen
England batsman Kevin Pietersen was fined an undisclosed amount by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Wednesday for disparaging comments he made on Twitter about a television pundit. The South African-born batsman has more than 600,000 followers on the social media site and has used it to deride the same commentator, former England opener Nick Knight, twice in the past year. Pietersen was summoned to a disciplinary hearing with ECB chief Hugh Morris and England coach Andy Flower on Wednesday, where the fine was handed down. Pietersen’s latest comment came during the first test against West Indies at Lords, which England won by five wickets on Monday.
Pomersbach case dropped
A US woman has decided to withdraw a molestation case against Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach after an out-of-court settlement was reached, a report said. The 27-year-old batsman, who plays in the Indian Premier League for the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, was last week granted bail by a New Delhi court following accusations he molested the woman and beat up her fiance. The cricketer, who has played one Twenty20 international for Australia, denied the charges against him, but faced a jail sentence if found guilty. A Press Trust of India report early yesterday said the woman’s lawyers would seek withdrawal of the case at the Delhi High Court. Pomersbach has battled depression and drug problems and narrowly avoided a jail sentence in Australia after admitting assaulting a police officer who was trying to arrest him for drink driving.
Miami players suspended
The NBA has slapped Miami forward Udonis Haslem with a one-game suspension and center Dexter Pittman with a three-game ban over incidents in Game 5 of their playoff series against Indiana. Haslem was suspended for striking Tyler Hansbrough in the head and shoulders during the Heat’s 115-83 rout of the Pacers on Tuesday. The Heat lead the series 3-2. Reserve Pittman was suspended for an illegal elbow to the chin of Indiana guard Lance Stephenson in the final minutes of the game, league executive vice president Stu Jackson said. Both Haslem and Pittman had their fouls upgraded to a category two after a video review by the league’s disciplinary officials following the game. Hansbrough was also given a flagrant foul, but was not suspended. Haslem and Pittman were scheduled to begin serving their suspensions yesterday when the Pacers hosted the Heat in game six of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.