European Athletics Championships

European Athletics has cancelled its 2020 Championships in Paris after conceding that the COVID-19 situation in France makes it impossible to deliver the event.

The showpiece event of European athletics’ governing body was due to take place at the Charlety Stadium (pictured) from August 25-30. The decision to cancel was taken by the Paris 2020 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Fédération Française d’Athlétisme (FFA) at an extraordinary LOC Executive Committee meeting.

This was held following an earlier meeting between the relevant French authorities. European Athletics and the Paris 2020 LOC had been evaluating all possible options for holding the championships this year as planned following a feasibility study relating to the current situation, which was requested last month.

The stakeholders said the decision to cancel was driven by the ongoing pandemic and the associated risks linked to the current situation, as well as the existing ban on mass gatherings in France. An evaluation made by the FFA Medical Commission was also taken into account when considering all the potential risks for spectators and accredited persons who would attend the championships.

European Athletics interim president, Dobromir Karamarinov, said: “We had hoped in these troubled times to offer European athletes a major event to aim for at the end of this summer. Unfortunately, we were informed by the LOC and French athletics federation that, after discussions with the relevant French national and local public health and safety authorities, they were no longer able to proceed with delivering the championships this August and were forced to cancel the event.

“Whilst we regret announcing the cancellation of our European Athletics Championships, it is worth reiterating that in these unprecedented times the health and safety of all athletics’ stakeholders including athletes, fans, officials, partners and everyone connected with the sport is paramount. We will always do what is best for the members of our athletics family and the wider public.”

World Athletics Championships

World Athletics has shed further light on Budapest’s sustainability plans for its staging of the 2023 World Championships, which will encompass the development of a new stadium.

Budapest was awarded hosting rights for the 2023 Championships in December 2018, with a new 40,000-seat stadium to be built in the Hungarian capital. The Championships will not require any permanent construction as all facilities have been planned and approved independent of the event.

The stadium will utilise temporary seating for the Championships, giving it a capacity of 40,000 during the event and 15,000 after. When the temporary upper tier is removed, the stadium will be left with a circular plateau, which can be filled with publicly available leisure areas.

The stadium site, on the river bank on the southern border of Budapest, is currently disused waste ground, with the whole area regenerated to become a public park with 15 acres of green space. The construction of the stadium and regeneration of the surrounding area was approved by the Hungarian government independent of Budapest’s World Championships bid.

“This area, the South-Pest Sports and Leisure Park, will not only be used by elite athletes, it will be used by families, schools, employees of the area and a lot of Budapest,” said Marton Gyulai, CEO of the Budapest 2023 Bid, according to WorldAthletics.org.

“For months, we have been working with architects to develop the idea of ​​having as many multifunctional and event spaces in the stadium as possible, which can be utilised in a variety of ways after the event.

“At the same time, the stadium and park would be not only an event venue but also a community space. The area, both inside and outside the stadium, will be used by locals who want to run in the good air, jog or just walk on the banks of the Danube.”

The stadium will also be directly accessible by public transport including trams, buses, local railway and boats on the Danube. VIP transportation will make use of electric cars, but all attendees will be encouraged to consider walking to the stadium along the river bank.

Budapest, like all host cities of future World Athletics Series events, will also join the governing body’s Air Quality project. World Athletics recently launched its Sustainability Strategy, which has a central goal of making the organisation carbon neutral by 2030, with the organisation spelling out its goals to TheStadiumBusiness.com earlier this week.

“It’s important – for us and for World Athletics – that the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023 is not just a competition,” Gyulai added. “Residents of Budapest will feel the tangible legacy of the event.”

T20 World Cup, Women’s Cricket World Cup

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has said it currently remains committed to staging its men’s T20 World Cup 2020 and women’s 2021 World Cup, adding that the planning for resumption of international cricket is including the option of ‘bio-bubbles’.

The ICC’s major events are a hugely important revenue source for most of the world’s national governing bodies, with the T20 World Cup due to take place in Australia from October 18 to November 15, and New Zealand to host the women’s World Cup from February 6 to March 7.

The ICC yesterday (Thursday) held a Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) meeting via conference call as members came together to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sport. During the call, the ICC said the CEOs of the 12 full members and three associate representatives confirmed their full commitment to work in partnership to address the challenges the sport will face in the coming weeks and months.

The CEC was updated on the continuing contingency planning for all ICC global events, including the T20 World Cup and the women’s World Cup. The ICC said planning for both events as currently scheduled is ongoing.

Chair of the ICC Medical Committee, Dr Peter Harcourt, provided a general medical update to the meeting. He said: “The situation is rapidly evolving and full of significant risk as there is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 which can make decision making difficult.

“Our next step is to create a roadmap for the resumption of international cricket which will include a criteria for decision making and a checklist for what needs to happen. This will consider everything from player preparation to government restrictions and advisories and bio-bubbles.

“The scale and complexity of getting cricket started again cannot be underestimated particularly with respect to a global event. The more teams, venues and cities involved in an event, the greater the risk which has to be assessed and managed.”

ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney added: “The complexities involved in being able to stage ICC global events are extensive to ensure we protect the health and safety of everyone involved and they will be carefully considered before any decisions are arrived at in the best interests of the game.”

ECB

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has today (Friday) announced that no professional cricket will be played until at least July 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has delayed a decision on the scheduled launch of its showpiece new tournament, The Hundred.

The ECB last month said COVID-19 testing checkpoints and isolation units could be deployed at grounds under a behind closed doors event model, adding that the “national mood” would also need to be judged before the domestic season could begin play. This came after it was agreed that no professional cricket would be played in England and Wales until at least May 28.

This suspension has now been pushed through to July 1, meaning that nine rounds of fixtures will be lost in the County Championship season, with blocks for red-ball cricket and white-ball cricket held in a revised schedule.

The ECB said the T20 Blast will be pushed as late in the season as possible to give it the best opportunity of being staged. All matches previously scheduled in June will be moved later in the season.

International cricket, featuring England men’s and women’s teams, will look to be scheduled from July until the end of September, with the West Indies Test Series and the whole women’s series against India both moving from their original slots.

An additional board meeting will be scheduled for April 29 to discuss The Hundred, following a request to dedicate further talks to the competition, which was due to launch this summer.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority – over and above the playing of professional sport – will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole.

“That’s why, simply put, there will be no cricket unless it’s safe to play. Our schedule will only go ahead if government guidance permits. Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned. The guidance we receive from Westminster will help us shape how we deliver this.”

Beach Volleyball World Championships

Rome’s 2021 Beach Volleyball World Championships has become the latest major sporting event to be rescheduled following the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.

With Tokyo 2020 now due to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has announced that its 2021 Beach Volleyball World Championships have been rescheduled for June 2022.

The Championships were originally scheduled for next summer in Rome as part of a joint agreement between the FIVB, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), Sport e Salute and the Italian Volleyball Federation (FIPAV).

The World Championships will remain in the Italian capital, which has hosted several major volleyball events at its famous Foro Italico venue. Indeed, Rome last year staged the Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals, which generated more than 36 million impressions on social media and was broadcast live in over 70 countries.

CONI president Giovanni Malagò said: “We fully share and support the decision to reschedule the World Championships to 2022 in light of the postponement of the Olympic Games of Tokyo to 2021, and in respect of the international sports calendar and agenda. Everything must be perfect for this unique event in Rome while fully respecting all the values that, together with the FIVB, the Italian Volleyball Federation and Sport e Salute, have always been our main objective.”

FIPAV president Pietro Bruno Cattaneo added: “We truly believe that this is the best possible solution for the good of all: athletes, sector operators and fans who will be in the thousands – I am sure – as happened during the wonderful nights in 2011 when the Foro Italico took the leading role of an amazing show. The organisation of the World Championships demands an extraordinary commitment, and under the present conditions it would not be possible to work safely.”

The Beach Volleyball World Championships is held every two years. The previous edition of the event was held in Hamburg, Germany in 2019 and welcomed over 130,000 spectators.

Images: Paris 2020 & Axiom Visual