Thursday 8 April 2021 10:00 pm

Week in Sportbiz: Sports give qualified backing to Covid certification plan; US Beijing boycott talks escalates; Masters caught up in vote row

British sport’s leading governing bodies have backed plans to use Covid certification if it means they can reopen stadiums in full later this summer.

But they have called for urgent clarification on how and when social distancing will be relaxed, warning that partially full venues will not stem their financial losses.

The Premier League, Football Association, England and Wales Cricket Board, Rugby Football Union, Lawn Tennis Association, Wimbledon organisers the AELTC and Silverstone are among the signatories to the letter to Primer Minister Boris Johnson and other political party leaders.

Covid certification must not be vaccine-dependent, the letter argues; those with antibodies or recent negative tests should also be permitted entry to events.

“Based on these principles, we support the review of the use of Covid certification for major events,” the bodies say.

Fans are due to return in small numbers to a handful of events in April and May as part of a pilot scheme to determine best practice.

The bodies want full venues for a summer of sport that includes Euro 2020, Test cricket, The Hundred, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix.

“It is important that we have certainty as soon as possible on the form this guidance will take so that we can plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards,” the letter adds.

A government spokesperson said: “We welcome the constructive approach from major British sports as we explore how testing covid certification and other steps can help get more fans back into stadiums and other large events safely.”

US Beijing boycott talk ramps up

While debate over the safety of staging Tokyo 2020 continues to rumble on, another Olympic row is brewing across the Atlantic.

The US state department was this week forced to deny that it was attempting to rally support for a joint boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics over China’s alleged human rights abuses.

Beijing is due to host the Winter Olympics next year amid concerns over its human rights record
Beijing is due to host the Winter Olympics next year amid concerns over its human rights record (Getty Images)

The backtrack came after a spokesperson for the department earlier suggested a boycott was being considered.

President Joe Biden has previously said he would seek to work with allies to “confront China’s economic abuses”.

Vote row casts shadow on Masters

Golf’s most celebrated tournament returns this week but not everyone is happy at the prospect of the 85th Masters at Augusta National.

After Major League Baseball chiefs pulled their All-Star Game from Atlanta over Georgia’s controversial new voting laws, some civil rights groups urged other sports to shun the state too.

US civil rights groups called for the Masters to be moved in response to Georgia's new voting laws
US civil rights groups called for the Masters to be moved in response to Georgia’s new voting laws (Getty Images)

“Major League Baseball is on the right side of history,” said David Johns of the National Black Justice Coalition. 

“We urge the PGA Tour and Masters Tournament to follow the leadership of Major League Baseball in standing up for civil rights by pulling the upcoming event from Augusta National Golf Course.”

Racer rallies support by selling himself

A British rally driver has found a novel way to bankroll his return to the sport: selling shares in himself.

Chris Ingram won the 2019 European Rally Championship and was close to clinching a World Rally Championship drive when the pandemic arrived – and his options hit the skids.

British racer Chris Ingram is returning to the World Rally Championship after finding a novel way to raise enough funding
British racer Chris Ingram is returning to the World Rally Championship after finding a novel way to raise enough funding (Getty Images)

But following a crowdfunding process which included selling a percentage of his future earnings, Ingram has raised the six-figure sum needed.

The 26-year-old is due to make his 2021 season debut in Croatia on 22 April.

Stampede for grassroots sport return

Eager amateurs were champing at the bit to get back to grassroots sport last week when facilities finally reopened across the UK.

Demand to take part was up almost 1200 per cent on the same week in 2019, according to app Find a Player, which helps users find teams and games near them.

“I expect there will be a few tired legs and trips to the physio next week,” said Find a Player CEO Jim Law.

Share
Tags: