The Glasgow 2014 Organizing Committee unveiled the official mascot for the Commonwealth Games. Clyde, a patriotic and adventurous thistle, was welcomed at BBC Scotland's headquarters in Glasgow by British Olympic swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Michael Jamieson (Glasgow 2014). The HERALD SCOTLAND noted that the U.K.-wide competition with more than 4,000 entries to design the Glasgow 2014 mascot was won by Beth Gilmour from Cumbernauld, Scotland. The Organizing Committee "joined forces with the BBC in October last year to run the children's competition," which was launched as part of the 1,000 day milestone, with the help of the Children's BBC's site Blue Peter and BBC Radio Scotland's Fred MacAulay & Co Show (HERALD SCOTLAND, 9/20).
Events and Attractions
Prize money for the Hong Kong Open has been cut by $750,000 to $2M, and organizers are "blaming the state of the world economy," according to the AFP. The deduction comes despite the golf tournament, one of the biggest in Asia, recently retaining its sponsor Swiss bank UBS. Hong Kong Golf Association CEO Iain Valentine said, "It's one of these things that have happened because of the downturn of the world economy" (AFP, 9/20). In Hong Kong, Alvin Sallay noted it is the first time "prize money has shrunk" since the tournament was jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the European Tour in '01. The tournament is scheduled for Nov. 15-18 at the Hong Kong Golf Club. UBS has backed the tournament for the past seven years, "but it is believed the bank drove a hard bargain by asking, and getting, a reduction in their financial commitments -- the prize money." The HKGA and the European Tour have recently asked the government for HK$16M ($2.1M), double what they received last year, as government funding is crucial to getting world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and other top players back to Hong Kong (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9/20).
Aintree racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority have announced "a raft of changes that will be implemented" for next year's Grand National, "but have resisted calls to cull Becher's Brook and the field size from the world's greatest steeplechase," according to Rod Gilmour of the London TELEGRAPH. One of the "key measures" is moving the position of the start forward by 90 yards, away from the crowds and grandstands. The changes will make the distance of the race around four miles and three and a half furlongs, reduced from the previous distance of four and a half miles. In addition, the start will include the "no-go" zone, which is defined by a line on the track, being extended from 15 yards to around 30 yards from the starting tape. The starter's rostrum has been moved to a position between the starting tape and the no-go zone to reduce the potential for horses to go through the starting tape prematurely. Meanwhile, "the landing zone at Becher's Brook will be levelled further, and the BHA will continue to review fence designs." There will also be no reduction in the size of the 40-horse field (TELEGRAPH, 9/20).
The Scottish Open "will return to Castle Stuart for a third year before moving to Royal Aberdeen Golf Club" in '14, according to the BBC. The event "moved from Loch Lomond to the links course near Inverness to offer better preparation" for The Open Championship. The European Tour and title sponsors "have also increased the prize fund by 20%" to £3M ($4.9M), with the champion receiving £500,000 ($810,000) (BBC, 9/20). In Glasgow, reported that the venues were announced Wednesday by the European Tour, title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management PLC and the Scottish government. European Tour CEO George O'Grady said, "The venue has been popular with players and public alike, and we are pleased to return before moving to Aberdeen" (DAILY RECORD, 9/20). STV reported that Royal Aberdeen "will be the eighth different venue to host the Scottish Open since '72." Founded in 1780, it is the sixth oldest golf club (STV.tv, 9/20).
Japan has pulled out of the second leg of the Asian Sevens Series in Shanghai "amid a worsening political crisis over disputed islands with China," according to Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. The Japan Rugby Football Union has decided against making the weekend trip to Shanghai. Coach Tomohiro Segawa said, "We've been training hard to try to win the competition, so this is disappointing." The news follows recent sports cancellations in football, badminton, table tennis and a triathlon race (REUTERS, 9/20). However, REUTERS' Patrick Johnston also reported that Japan's tennis No. 1 Kei Nishikori will play in the Shanghai Masters next month "despite his country's political row with China" (REUTERS, 9/20).
New Zealand's Wellington Sevens tournament GM Steve Walters said it is "unlikely" the event will be forced to go alcohol-free in the future, according to Daniel Richardson of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The ongoing debate about drinking at the annual February event was reignited when veteran commentator Keith Quinn said on the radio that the "actions of punters at the Wellington event were getting worse." Quinn lobbied for a dry zone in the Westpac Stadium concourse "in the late afternoon until the early evening" during the annual tournament. People would be able to buy alcohol on the concourse but would have to take it back to their seat to drink it. Walters "poured cold water" on the suggestion of a dry concourse, on the basis that ti would be tough to manage. He said that he could not see a time "where booze wouldn't be available at the event." The event is part of the nine-leg world series that gets underway again next month. Westpac Stadium includes a 'Family Zone' and will also host a 'Rugby Zone' for the first time next year "where fans who want to watch the action on field rather than socialise can sit" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/20).
The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament has become even bigger by expanding to a record 28 teams "in a move to smooth a new qualifying pathway for the world series. The Hong Kong leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, from March 22-24, will serve as a pre-qualifying competition before a final core team qualifier in London at the ninth and final leg, which will decide the three new core teams for the '13-14 season (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 9/20). ... The Cambodia Triathlon Federation is set to host the 2012 Angkor Wat Int'l Duathlon around the historic temple complex in Siem Reap on Oct. 28 (PHNOM PENH POST, 9/20). ... The next edition of the SportAccord Int'l Convention will take place in Saint Petersburg, Russia and will be held at the Lenexpo Exhibition Complex May 26-31 (SportAccord).