Australia's "dream of reclaiming one of the most coveted trophies in world sport is over, with Team Australia withdrawing from the America's Cup," according to Amanda Lulham of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. The decision was revealed on Saturday "but does not come as a complete surprise to sailing insiders." Australia, which won the America's Cup in '83, has not "been in the Cup fray for more than a decade," although Australian sailors "have major roles on rival teams." America's Cup organizers confirmed they had "received notification from the principals of Hamilton Island Yacht Club of their intention to withdraw Team Australia from the 35th America's Cup." The Australians were "the Challenger of Record for the next Cup to be raced at a time and venue still to be determined." Hamilton Island Owner Bob Oatley, a "Sydney to Hobart veteran" who led Australia's bid to "enter the historic race, said the cost of putting a campaign together had become too much" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/19). In London, Stuart Alexander wrote "another major wobble in the progress towards the next America's Cup" came with the announcement. In "the meantime," the America's Cup Event Authority is "continuing its work to select a host venue for the America's Cup" in '17. The process is "progressing well," with an aim to "announce the final venue in October." ACEA said that the "final two being considered" are San Diego and Bermuda. Team Australia will reportedly "continue to provide the crew for the GAC Pindar challenge for the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series with Nathan Wilmot continuing as skipper for the next regatta in Cardiff next month" (INDEPENDENT, 7/19).
Events and Attractions
Fears "are growing that Formula One is steering towards a new public relations fiasco as the sport gears up for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Leading sponsors were "already nervous about the new race in a country embroiled in the crisis in Ukraine, but the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet on Thursday has sent a fresh shudder through the paddock." The Russian Grand Prix is a "pet project" of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His presence at a Russian Grand Prix at "such a sensitive time would embroil F1 in a political row that could be as ugly as the infamous Bahrain Grand Prix" of '12, when F1 "ploughed into Bahrain even though protesters were on the streets trying to prevent the race from taking place in the wake of the bloodshed of the pro-democracy uprising." The teams "were safe" but the publicity was "appalling" and one source at motorsports governing body FIA called it "a public relations catastrophe." Sochi in October "could be as bad." Ecclestone will "hear no question of cancelling the first Russian Grand Prix and sponsors are torn between the need to exploit one of the world’s biggest-growing markets and being seen to uphold the highest of standards in business" (LONDON TIMES, 7/19).
The fear of "jeopardising the financial health of Hong Kong cricket" has forced organizers of the Hong Kong Sixes to "cancel the tournament for the second year running," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Hong Kong Cricket Association Chair Mike Walsh rued the "lack of financial support from the government as well as the corporate sector in backing the tournament." Months of "chasing a title sponsor" after the government's Mega Events Fund turned down two applications for funding "proved fruitless, forcing the HKCA to throw in the towel rather than take the risk of using its own funds to stage the two-day tournament in November." The HKCA "laid the blame squarely on the Hong Kong Tourism Commission-run MEF." Walsh said, "Without support from the Mega Events Fund, the costs of staging the tournament in 2014 were significantly increased, making securing sufficient corporate sponsorship a challenge" (SCMP, 7/19).
Nimes, France Mayor Jean-Paul Fournier said that the 2017 Vuelta a Espana will start in Nimes. Fournier: "The Grand Depart of the 2017 will be held in Nimes, it will be the first time (the race will start from France). It will start with a team time trial" (REUTERS, 7/20). ... Organizers said the "source of the suspected norovirus outbreak" which has hit the Commonwealth Games' Athletes' Village "has been traced." There have been 32 "suspected cases of the sickness." It was "traced to a temporary facility that was in use during construction work in the security area" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 7/18). ... A total of $6,000 "raised by entry fees in the fourth edition of the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon," which was held on Tuesday along the streets of Phnom Penh, was donated to Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (PHNOM PENH POST, 7/18).