F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has taken a swipe at the Victorian government, telling it not to complain about the price of staging the race after signing a deal," according to Adrian Lowe of THE AGE. Ecclestone, speaking amid an ongoing row about whether Victorians receive value for money for the race, "refused to discuss how much the state pays to keep the event in Melbourne." The octogenarian Ecclestone said of the race's future in Melbourne: "It's up to them isn't it? It's up to the people who are responsible. I can't make them sign a contract, they do it of their own free will." However, he also said: "They shouldn't complain after they sign" (THE AGE, 1/24). 3AW - FAIRFAX RADIO NETWORK's Michael James wrote Ecclestone spoke exclusively with radio station 3AW about the issue. It was speculated that the leak of confidential figures "could jeopardise Melbourne's chances of retaining the event." However, Ecclestone said "it doesn't make any difference." He added, "The first thing, the figure that has been published that may not be the correct figure. I don't really mind. People can report what they like" (3AW - FAIRFAX RADIO NETWORK, 1/24).
Events and Attractions
London's Olympic Stadium will host its first sporting event since the 2012 Games on the anniversary of the Opening Ceremony, according to Eleanor Crooks of the PA. The London Grand Prix athletics meeting, part of the elite Diamond League series, will move from its usual home at Crystal Palace and will take place on July 27, a year to the day after the Olympics began "in spectacular fashion." Already, 15,500 tickets have been sold and "will have to be refunded." Those buyers, however, will be first in line for Olympic Stadium tickets, "but it might be at an elevated price" (PA, 1/24). In London, Tom Peck noted athletes such as Usain Bolt, David Rudisha and Greg Rutherford "would also be highly likely to compete in the event," which is scheduled to take place two weeks before the World Championships in Moscow. The London Legacy Development Corp. announced the news of the grand prix, which will form part of a series of events in the stadium on the anniversary weekend, "with a large scale concert also likely" (INDEPENDENT, 1/24).
ATHLETES ENTHUSED: Also in London, Simon Hart wrote the decision to move the athletics event "has drawn an enthusiastic response from athletes." Olympic heptathlon Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis described the news as "brilliant." Ennis: "It will give athletes and fans who did not get to experience the amazing venue the chance to go there, and for those of us who had the most incredible experiences on the track and field, an opportunity to relive a few memories." The Crystal Palace meeting "usually attracts a sell-out crowd" of 22,000. However, "UK Athletics officials are optimistic" that the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium could reach capacity (TELEGRAPH, 1/24).
The WTA claims women are "willing to play five-set matches in Grand Slam tournaments and all that is required is for the four majors to give the go-ahead," according to Margie McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. But time constraints in fitting matches from two, 128-strong singles draws, together with doubles, and mixed doubles into one two-week period is "still seen as a major stumbling block." Surveys also reveal that people "prefer three-set matches for women's tennis." The WTA believes the best-of-five format should start at quarterfinal level, when prize money begins to skyrocket. The ease with which players such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka won their early rounds in Melbourne has "brought the pay issue to a head once again." WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said that the Grand Slam Committee, comprised of the chairmen of the four Grand Slam tournaments and the president of the Int'l Tennis Federation, "was not keen on the five-set concept." Allaster said, "We've long been in this discussion that we'll play five sets, but the slams don't want us to" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/25).
WOMEN'S FINAL TICKETS: In Melbourne, Richard Hinds reported the Australian Open women's final between Li Na and Azarenka "was not sold out" as of Thursday despite tickets having been "on sale for almost four months. With adult tickets costing A$294.90 ($308.64) and children's tickets A$279.90, "maybe the brevity of some women's finals had persuaded would-be ticket buyers the event did not stack up on a dollar-for-play basis." The "value-for-money final was supposed to have been" between Sharapova and Williams. But for the WTA Tour, trading Sharapova and Williams "for a popular woman from the lucrative Chinese market" in Li means "no commercial damage has been done." Sharapova's semifinal defeat "might even have a counter-intuitive outcome." The absence of the "world's most marketable female athlete (and, particularly, her shriek) will make the final more enticing for some" (THE AGE, 1/25).
WITH LOVE: The WTA will honor its four decades of growth and achievements throughout '13 with a season-long campaign named 40 LOVE. The campaign will showcase the pioneers of the game and the current stars that contributed to the ongoing success of women's professional tennis and the WTA (WTA).
Newly hired Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) Oceania President Tracey Gaudry will hold talks in Adelaide, Australia on Friday "about a push for a second WorldTour race," as well as securing the Tour Down Under's future in Adelaide, according to Reece Homfray of THE ADVERTISER. On the 15th anniversary of South Australia's Santos TDU, Gaudry will meet Premier Jay Weatherill and the state's major events department about how it can help "grow and prosper cycling in the region." Victoria's "iconic Herald Sun Tour and one-day Melbourne to Warrnambool race are events Gaudry believes should be considered for upgrading back to higher-level UCI status." Gaudry said that there has been a "push for more international events" in the Oceania region including all disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, BMX and cyclocross (THE ADVERTISER, 1/25).
The German Football Federation (DFB) "has named Berlin, Dortmund, Munich and Stuttgart as possible hosts for Euro 2020 games" (DPA, 1/22). ... The China Grand Rally, organized by the Federation of Automobile Sports of China, CCTV and China Equity Group, will begin in September and last 16 days. Covering 10,000km, the race will stretch from Beijing through Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and include 10 stages that will be a combined total length of 4,000km (CHINA DAILY, 1/24).