The organizers of the Open Championship "have blamed hot weather rather than high ticket prices for a drop of almost 20,000 spectators from the last time the event was staged at Muirfield," according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. In '02, a total of 160,595 attended the third major of the year in East Lothian. Last week, that figure fell to 142,036 with a standard walk-up price of £75 ($115) generally recognized as off-putting. Before the Open started, R&A Championship Committee Chair Jim McArthur said, "We are expecting a total crowd of 160,000, and hoping for 170,000 over the week." An Open spokesperson said, "Advance ticket sales were very strong, and we believe the extremely warm weather put off some of our pay-at-the-gate customers. That is perhaps why, unusually, we had a higher attendance on Sunday in cooler weather than we did on Friday, which is normally the busiest day" (GUARDIAN, 7/22). The high temperature at Muirfield was 72F on Friday and 66F on Saturday and Sunday, according to The Weather Channel (SBD Global).
SETTING THE SCENE: In Edinburgh, Alan Pattullo reported in the moment of Phil Mickelson’s triumph, "it felt as if the attendant controversies had briefly melted away." The Muirfield ban on female membership issue "will of course rear its head again, but it did not seem relevant" Sunday, as Amy, Mickelson’s wife, skipped across the 18th green in a bid to obtain a good vantage point for the presentation. There "was no grumbling from the clubhouse." Only applause. It is hard to explain why attendance numbers "are down if those present seem intent on showering praise on the Open, but it is there in black and white." Robert Fisher had come all the way from Mickelson’s hometown of San Diego, and hailed this year’s Open as a "fantastic tournament." The lower number of spectators "was a positive, as far as they were concerned." He said, "It wasn’t packed, compared to the U.S. Open for example. I prefer less people, but you still drink beer and cheer and have a good time" (SCOTSMAN, 7/22).
With the friendly match between a BNI Indonesia All-Stars side and EPL club Chelsea looming, state-owned bank Bank Negara Indonesia "has been forced to refund fans who had paid for pre-match events, including a meet and greet with the Chelsea players," according to the JAKARTA GLOBE. BNI Consumer & Retail Banking Dir Darmadi Sutanto said in a statement that BNI "has requested fans who bought tickets to attend the three pre-match events: the meet and greet, jersey signing, and a coaching clinic, to apply for a refund." He went on to say BNI "had followed standard procedures by charging for these events when foreign teams visit Indonesia, but understood Chelsea’s desire for a different approach." Darmadi said, "However, we want to respect Chelsea’s philosophy on their preseason tour ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay,’ so both BNI and the promoters have agreed to waive the charges and refund fans who had previously purchased tickets for the extra events." Chelsea had earlier announced it would refund the fans who paid £1,500 ($2,300) for the meet-and-greet with the players and £330 ($507) for a charity coaching clinic. The club added that the events, including the meet-and-greet and coaching clinic, "have to be ticketed due to the high demand and fans in Thailand and Malaysia, who attended similar events, had not been charged" (JAKARTA GLOBE, 7/22).
German Football Federation (DFB) President Wolfgang Niersbach has said that the organization "is mulling a bid to host the 2024 European Championships," according to the DEUTSCHE WELLE. It "might all depend on what slice of the action Germany gets" in hosting a pan-European tournament in '20. Niersbach said that his organization "was considering an application to host the tournament, but that the decision would have to wait." Niersbach also said that Germany "would wait to see if it was chosen to host the final phase" -- the semifinals and final -- of Euro 2020. He said, "UEFA will announce the 13 host cities in September 2014 ... Thereafter we will be able to decide what to do. If we look at the European map, we can say with assurance -- and not arrogance -- that we have the ability to organize such a complex tournament" (DEUTSCHE WELLE, 7/20).
Organizers said on Monday that China will not take part in the inaugural Indian Badminton League next month, "taking much of the sheen off the million-dollar event," according to the AFP. The IBL, inspired by the Indian Premier League, is due to be held from Aug. 14-31 and "features six city-based franchises sold to businesses and individuals." The IBL "failed to attract Chinese and Korean players despite being touted as badminton’s richest event." An organizer said, "The Chinese will not be coming this year mainly because the IBL clashes with their national games" (AFP, 7/22).
The 2013 Singapore Open golf tournament will not be held this year, and will return at the beginning of '14. Barclays ended its seven-year sponsorship of the tournament after last year's event and "there are no developments yet on potential suitors" (ASIA ONE, 7/22). ... Kenya "has cancelled a planned tour of Ghana" to play in build-up matches in field hockey ahead of the Africa Nations Cup tournament, which will be staged in Nairobi from Sept. 26 to Oct. 6. The men's and women's teams, which were due to depart this week to Accra, Ghana, "will have to stay and use local facilities to train." Kenya Hockey Union Chair Risham Bains said, "The trip is off. The government has not released the funds and we have no choice but to pull out" (XINHUA, 7/22). ... The Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Exec Committee has awarded the 2014 AIBA Congress to Jeju Island, Korea (AIBA).