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Volume 10 No. 23

Events and Attractions

The Int'l Hockey Federation (FIH) "has drawn up a strategic plan to revitalise the sport in the coming years and it includes the introduction of Hockey5s," according to Y. B. Sarangi of THE HINDU. After the uncertainty over wrestling’s tenure in the Olympics earlier this year, "the FIH has woken up to take the sport to a wider audience and make it more contemporary." FIH President Leandro Negre said, "We had some challenges this year with the (Int'l) Olympic Committee. I can assure you that [field] hockey is not in danger. But we need to learn that we cannot be in a siesta." Among several initiatives taken up by the FIH, Hockey5s -- "which promises a faster, higher scoring, action-packed format played with five players per team on smaller pitches for shorter duration" -- has an important role to play as it is aimed at attracting youth and non-traditional spectators. Negre said that in the FIH's scheme of things, India, which has been assigned some major int'l events in the next five years, "would play a big role." Negre: "India is the key for hockey, not only for the best of hockey in India, but for hockey all around the world. Now with new technologies, everybody looks for figures -- figures in television, figures in Twitter -- and only India can give that to hockey" (THE HINDU, 12/14).

The Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament "has increased its prizemoney" to a total of 315,000 Swiss francs ($354,800), according to the SID. The overall winner of the event will continue to receive 20,000 Swiss francs ($22,500). For the first time, the winner of the qualification rounds will earn a reward of €2,000 ($2,750). However, the event in '11-12 "theoretically remains the most lucrative in history." Back then, the organizers offered up 1M Swiss francs "in case one jumper would have won all four competitions." The only ski jumper who managed to win all four events during a single Four Hills Tournament was German Sven Hannawald in '01-02. This year's 62nd edition of the Four Hills Tournament kicks off in Oberstdorf, Germany on Dec. 29 (SID, 12/16).

Myanmar football fans started fires, tore out seats and hurled rocks after their team was eliminated from the Southeast Asian Games, "the latest stadium violence in a country once banned from 2018 World Cup qualifying because of unruly fans," according to REUTERS. Myanmar's 1-0 defeat to Indonesia late on Monday "angered spectators, who threw stones as disappointed players left the pitch in tears." Some spectators "invaded the pitch as others tore down banners and destroyed plastic seats." Fans outside "set ablaze billboards and SEA Games flags, hats and even their own T-shirts." Rioters threw stones at police, "who huddled behind shields and responded with water cannon" (REUTERS, 12/17). The AFP reported trouble "flared inside the Yangon stadium before full-time and then carried on after the game with furious fans setting alight police posts and billboards." Deputy Police Colonel Min Aung said, "We detained eight football fans last night, including two who invaded the pitch in second-half." Hooliganism at Myanmar's football matches "is common." In August, "fans destroyed the pitch at a new stadium in the capital Naypyidaw, where Indonesia will now travel to contest the semifinals." Blame "swiftly fell on Myanmar's Korean coach as the home side failed to progress despite sharing points with Indonesia and having a better goal difference." Park Seong-Hwa was dismissed after the match, with local reports saying that "he admitted he was unaware of competition rules stating that the head-to-head result -- and not goal difference -- would determine who progresses if teams were tied on points" (AFP, 12/17).

The Australian capital of Canberra is "in contention to host Test cricket for the first time" as early as the '15-16 Australian summer, according to Jesse Hogan of THE AGE. Canberra's revamped Manuka Oval is "shaping as a replacement venue for the tiring WACA Ground in Perth." The WACA Ground "may never again host a Test match," with Cricket Australia and the Int'l Cricket Council "united in their belief the venue no longer meets international standards.'' Manuka hosted the Australian team in a one day int'l for the first time in February, having "installed broadcast quality lighting that enables it to host day-night matches." It is currently undergoing the next phase of a planned A$35M ($31M) renovation by the end of the decade. The latest upgrade, to be completed by the Prime Minister's XI match against England on Jan. 14, "has involved a complete resurfacing of the ground." It will also "increase the venue's capacity to in excess of 15,000" (THE AGE, 12/17). In Sydney, Peter Lalor reported reality is "slowly dawning that the famous WACA Ground is no longer viable for Test matches." Int'l attention has "focused on the large crack opening in the desiccated pitch" which "has cooked in an unseasonal heatwave." The "famous wicket always breaks apart but this year canyons have opened up," taking their cue from channels dug by the Nine Network for its stump microphones and cameras. WACA confirmed that "this caused the fissures" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/18).

The ATP tournament in Dusseldorf, Germany "will change its name to 'Dusseldorf Open.'" Tournament Dir Dietloff von Arnim and license holder Rainer Schüttler announced the tournament's name change, which was made necessary by the loss of its title sponsor, on Monday. The ATP 250 event will take place from May 18-24 (SID, 12/16). ... Standard Chartered Bank "is joining the increasingly popular trend of organizing running events in Taiwan, as it plans to sponsor a marathon on the island for the first time next February" (CNA, 12/17). ... Chinese Taipei Baseball Association Secretary General Lin Chung-sheng said on Monday that Tainan, a southern Taiwan city, "has won the right to host" three Int'l Baseball Federation (IBAF) 12U Baseball World Cup competitions in '15, '17 and '19 (CNA, 12/16).