The total attendance for this year's Australian Open was 684,457, just short of the '12 record of 686,006, according to Linda Pearce of THE AGE. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia officials are negotiating with the state government "in an attempt to avoid the annual disruption to play caused by the Australia Day fireworks display." This year, the extended break came during the women's final. Next year it will happen during the men's final. Often, the best-of-three set women's final is finished by the scheduled fireworks time of 9:40pm, "but instead the interruption came after the third game of the third set between Li Na and Victoria Azarenka." Li fell immediately after the resumption, "twisting the ankle she had hurt earlier in the match and being assessed for possible concussion after banging her head on the court." Australian Open Tournament Dir Craig Tiley said that talks had begun with the state government "to try to find a solution acceptable to both parties" ahead of the '14 event, with the next men's final scheduled for Jan. 26. He said that the interruption was "particularly perplexing for the global TV audience, but also had the potential to affect the momentum of a match." Another issue to be addressed in the coming months is the "lack of space on the men's trophy, the historic Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, for if there is room to add another name below that of '13 champion Novak Djokovic, it will only be one." First won by Fred Perry in '43, the cup stands on a 15.5cm plinth that carries the names of the men's singles winners, "each of whom receive a replica of the original" (THE AGE, 1/28).
Events and Attractions
In Jaipur, India, "uncertainty looms large" over the city's chances of hosting the upcoming Indian Premier League matches as the Memorandum of Understanding between the Rajasthan Cricket Association and Rajasthan State Sports Council, which had expired last year, is still "yet to be renewed," according to the PTI. Rajasthan Royals CEO Raghu Iyer and skipper Rahul Dravid "are confident that the matter would be sorted out by the state government, RCA and RSSC." Iyer said, "Yes there is an air of uncertainty over the venue. We have met the government, RSSC and the RCA officials and all of them want the IPL matches to [be] held here only. We are part of the IPL and whatever BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) says we will have to follow it." The row has already "robbed Jaipur's chances of hosting the prestigious Irani Trophy match." The BCCI has reportedly given RCA deadline until Thursday "to make its position regarding MoU" (PTI, 1/28).
The French Professional Football League (LFP) has announced that the 2013 Trophée des Champions will take place on Aug. 3 in Libreville, Gabon. The event will see the winner of Ligue 1 take on the winner of the Coupe de France. In a statement, the LFP said, "This decision is in line with the development strategy of Ligue 1 internationally, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that accounts for 30% of revenues from TV rights internationally. This choice is also an opportunity to strengthen exchanges between French football and African football. Organizing the Trophée des Champions in Gabon is a way to reach out to Africa, from where more than 110 players play in Ligue 1 this season (LFP). SOCCEREX opined that with the move, the LFP "will continue its bid to build Ligue 1's international brand" (SOCCEREX, 1/28).
Myanmar "has dropped popular Olympic sports" from the Southeast Asian Games in December, and "hopes to pack the competition with less well-known sports where its athletes are likely to win medals," according to the BANGKOK POST. The Games, to be held in capital Nay Pyi Daw and other locations, "will not have table tennis, tennis, gymnastics or badminton." Instead, Myanmar sports authorities have put 14 "traditional sports on the schedule, eight of which are played almost exclusively in Myanmar." One traditional sport is chinlone, which a newspaper described as a mix of "dance-like acrobatics mixed with soccer juggling skills" (BANGKOK POST, 1/28). In N.Y., Thomas Fuller wrote the SEA Games "is causing acrimony long before a single athlete has competed." National Olympic Committee of Thailand President Yuthasak Sasiprapha said that Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand "all intend to participate" in the competition, and have each "sent separate letters to Myanmar protesting the way the event is being organized." Yuthasak said, "These games are supposed to bring unity, but they are causing divisions instead." The country's Ministry of Sport Dir U Htay Aung said, "Every host country has the authority to decide which competitions should be included and excluded" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/27).
Approximately 2,300 athletes have gathered in the South Korean ski resort of PyeongChang for the 2013 Special Winter Olympics, "with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to attend" Tuesday's Opening Ceremony. The eight-day event will see athletes from 110 countries competing in disciplines including alpine and cross-country skiing, figure and short-track speed skating, hockey and snowboarding (AFP, 1/28). ... The flame that will light the 27th Universiade or World Student Games in Kazan, Russia this summer has landed in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok ahead of National Students' Day, "before beginning its journey across Russia's nine time zones." The torch for the Kazan 2013 Universiade was lit on July 12 in Paris -- the city that hosted the first World Student Games, in '23 (RUSSIA TODAY, 1/28). ... Spain won the Int'l Handball Federation's Men's World Championship for the second time in its history on Sunday after beating Denmark 35-19 in the final (MARCA, 1/28).