Laver Cup

The O2 in London has today (Friday) softened the blow of the impending departure of the ATP Finals by landing another tennis showpiece in the form of the Laver Cup.

The O2 has secured hosting rights to the fifth edition of the team competition, which will take place in London from September 23-25, 2022. This will follow on from Boston’s staging of the 2021 Laver Cup, which was originally due to take place at TD Garden this year only to be postponed due to COVID-19.

Named in honour of Australian tennis legend Rod Laver, the Laver Cup pits six of the best players from Europe against six of their counterparts from the rest of the world. Since its debut in Prague in 2017, the Laver Cup has been staged in Chicago in 2018, and Geneva last year.

The O2 has been home to the ATP World Tour Finals since 2009. However, this year will be the final edition in London with the Association of Tennis Professionals announcing in April 2019 that Turin’s Pala Alpitour will be the tournament’s new home from 2021 to 2025.

Gael Caselli, vice-president of sport for The O2’s operator, AEG Europe, said: “We are delighted The O2 will host the Laver Cup in 2022 and look forward to welcoming the tournament to London and bringing the excitement of tennis to the British fans. The O2 has held a multitude of world class sporting events since opening in 2007 and will continue this tradition with the Laver Cup, which will no doubt be a must see event in the sporting calendar.”

Laver Cup CEO Steve Zacks added: “London’s The O2 is one of the world’s most iconic music and entertainment venues. It is a destination unto itself, with spectacular scale, design, technology and amenities. It is the perfect setting for the Laver Cup to create an unrivalled fan experience.”

WBBL

Cricket Australia (CA) has today announced that the 2020 Women’s Big Bash League will take place entirely within Sydney, with a WBBL Village concept created to help stage the Twenty20 tournament.

The WBBL, regarded as the world’s most prominent women’s club cricket competition, will play out a full 59-game schedule for its sixth season. The campaign will begin on October 25, with all eight teams in action and both a Sydney and Melbourne derby to be played.

The season will conclude on the weekend of November 28-29. Locations and timings of the three-match finals series matches are still to be confirmed, but North Sydney Oval, Hurstville Oval, Sydney Showground Stadium, Blacktown International Sportspark and Drummoyne Oval will be utilised for the early stages.

The WBBL Village will see parts of Sydney Olympic Park transformed into a athletes’ precinct to accommodate all eight teams and staff. The Village, created with the support of tournament title sponsor rebel, the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Accor Hotels and Cricket NSW will see the League given exclusive use of multiple hotels, high performance facilities and dining venues.
 
Alistair Dobson, CA head of Big Bash Leagues, said: “Today’s announcement of the changes to the rebel WBBL|06 fixture and the transformation of Sydney Olympic Park into the rebel WBBL Village sets the League up for another unforgettable season.
 
“Last season was the biggest in the history of the women’s game and now, following on from the Commonwealth Bank ODI and T20I series in Brisbane, we’ll get to see the stars of our world champion Australian team in action during rebel WBBL|06.”
 
Geoff Lee, New South Wales’ Acting Minister for Sport, added: “We are ready to see the heroes of Australia’s triumphant T20 World Cup side return to action as the league continues its popularity surge across the nation.
 
“These women are setting an excellent example to young girls aspiring to play the game of cricket and that is so important as we continue to drive sport participation across the state.”

Pac-12

The Pac-12 has become the last of the ‘Power Five’ US college sports conferences to commit to a return to play, with college football set to resume on November 6.

The Pac-12 CEO Group yesterday announced the decision based upon updated guidance from its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee that took into account material changes to testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance.

The football season may now commence for those teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals on November 6, followed by men’s and women’s basketball on November 25 consistent with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) official start date for these sports, and other winter sports consistent with the NCAA season dates for those sports. 

The Pac-12’s decision comes after the Big Ten last week announced it will open its American football season on October 23-24, little over a month after deciding to postpone. The Big Ten and Pac-12, two of the five wealthiest conferences, last month postponed their fall sports seasons due to COVID-19, including the highly lucrative football competitions.

The ‘Power Five’ conferences, whose membership include the likes of University of Michigan, Ohio State University and the University of Southern California, took the decision despite pressure to continue.

The Big Ten suspended fall sports, while the Pac-12 said it would not stage any sports competitions for the remainder of 2020. Following yesterday’s announcement, Pac-12 universities with the necessary public health approvals may commence football practice immediately with a seven game Conference-only season to begin on November 6, and the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 18.

No fans will be permitted at any sporting competition taking place on Pac-12 campuses.  The decision to not allow fans at competitions will be revisited based upon health and safety considerations in January.

“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. “Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.”

Image: The O2