11th to 17th May
Welcome back to another edition as we reflect on the previous few days of sports news and what potentially lies ahead for next week. Most of Europe is enjoying a weekend of pleasant spring weather and it seems almost surreal that we are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic. We have now reached the end of week seven of the United Kingdom's stay-at-home campaign. For some it has been two months and for certain European nations even longer. The nation will be addressed on Sunday by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and all indications are that the lockdown period will be extended. Even so, the expectancy is for a phased return of some industry sectors and also the prospect of specific age groups only. It is a difficult decision for any government to make weighing up the balance in safeguarding the population, while laying out a plan to rescue their economies.
The balance extends to sport and one can almost sense the nervous tension a governing body must be experiencing. Every week that goes by without the various revenue streams flowing, adds to the concern. Some may view sport as a recreation and therefore not that important, but it is also a business with many livelihoods dependent on it. On the brighter side of things, there are now more concrete talks for the resumption of certain sports. For example, Angela Merkel and her government have given the clearance for the Bundesliga to resume on the 16th May. The K League (South Korea's premier football league) resumed last night. The players did not wear masks, but the management and staff in the stands did. It will be a strange adjustment for players as no spectators are present. In Germany cardboard cutouts will be placed in the stands and the K League made use of crowd noise over the loudspeakers. The decision when the Premier League will return is still not clear yet, but I think we can almost safely say it will happen to complete the season.
In other sports and something amazing to cheer, actor and strongman Hafthor Julius Bjornsson of Iceland, broke the world deadlift record by completing a hefty 501 kilogram lift. Bjornsson is also known for his role in Game of Thrones. He is the first person to have won the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe's Strongest Man and the World's Strongest Man all in the same calendar year. South African Rugby have a difficult to decision to make around the British & Irish Lions tour scheduled for 2021. Rugby officials are become increasingly desperate for the season to resume, but it is unfortunately one of those contact sports that will be last to be given the green light. With that in mind, northern hemisphere unions are looking at completing the remaining Six Nations matches of 2020 later this year. Then there are the autumn internationals and the Six Nations of 2021, potentially creating a fixture pile-up. This may put the Lions Tour in doubt as unions may feel their players will not get sufficient rest. It is a valid point, however we know this is about money and Six Nations unions are more concerned about their own income from television rights and gate receipts than a traditional away tour to South Africa, where the hosts will be the ones to suffer a major loss.
Chase Carey, the chairman for Formula 1, has stated their commitment to complete the season for 2020, but also stressed there is a real possibility that no races may feature this year. If air travel is restricted and teams cannot travel freely, it could mean venues may change to where nations will be more accommodating. UCI, cycling's governing body, have confirmed the Tour de France will start on the 29th August. This means the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España will overlap in October. Bill Beaumont won the election for a second term as the chairman of World Rugby with Bernard Laporte chosen as his deputy. More will be discussed about the outcome next week as we feel this particular choice will be a setback for the worldwide development of rugby union.
Until next week, stay safe and stay positive.