The 2015 Asian Cup organizing committee believes that the tournament "will prove a hit with local sports fans and create a rich football legacy for Australia," according to Sebastian Hassett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. However, the battle for public attention "will be fierce." The event will be held six months after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, one month before Australia co-hosts the Cricket World Cup and at the same time as the Australian Open tennis tournament. A Rugby World Cup will also start in September of that year. These events "might seem to be counting against the showcase's fight for attention," Asian Cup Local Organizing Committee CEO Michael Brown said that "it will capture the public's imagination." Brown even suggested that rather than going head-to-head with other events, they should "work together to build a summer tourism mecca." Brown said, "We want to connect with the Sydney Festival, we'll connect with the Cricket World Cup and the tennis in Melbourne. We want to add to what is a great time, in January, to be here. We want to showcase Australia to people who might not see it again" (SMH, 1/10).
CHINA QUALIFIERS: XINHUA reported two of the three home games of the Chinese football team's 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers "will be held in Shaanxi province, while the other one will be arranged in Changsha, Hunan province." China will meet Iraq in Changsha on March 22 and take on Indonesia and Saudi Arabia on Nov. 15 and 19, respectively (XINHUA, 1/9).
The WTA has announced one of its top tournaments is moving from Japan to China. The Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo will end what will have been a 30-year run after this year and move to Wuhan, China, hometown of top WTA player Li Na. The announcement comes amid a flurry of calendar developments from the WTA, including a 10% rise in prize money this year to $58.7M. Two events are relocating to China. In addition to the Tokyo one, which awards $2M in prize money, a smaller one in Malaysia will move in '14 to Hong Kong. In a statement, WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said: "We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil. Development in the BRIC markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years.” The WTA is staging an inaugural event in Brazil this year, and the women’s event in Memphis will relocate to Rio de Janiero next year. The WTA also said it would announce in April the host city for its season-ending championships beginning in '14. They are in Istanbul this year.
Swimmers "will take their first splash" toward the Rio de Janeiro Olympics at the State New Zealand Open Water Championships in Taupo this weekend. At stake is automatic selection to the World Championships later this year. The championships "form part of the two-day State Epic Swim in Lake Taupo." There is also NZ$14,000 ($12,000) of prize money "up for grabs" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 1/9). ... The Thailand Professional Golf Association "will launch this year's 30-event schedule with two tournaments next week." The season "will feature 12 ThaiPGA Tour and SAT tournaments, 12 Challenge events, four events co-sanctioned with the Korean PGA and two events sanctioned by the Asian Tour -- the King's Cup and Queen's Cup" (BANGKOK POST, 1/9).