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Volume 6 No. 264

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Novak Djokovic "denied reports of a potential Australian Open boycott, rejecting suggestions he is greedy and money-driven," according to the HERALD SUN. The ATP Player Council president and former world No. 1 described reports of demands for more money and a possible boycott as "a little bit exaggerated." He said, "You've taken things out of the context. I saw that you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy, asks for more money and wants to boycott. But I respect your freedom and decisions to do that. But not much of what you have wrote is true." Referring to a player meeting on Friday, when he cleared the room of officials, Djokovic said, "We players just wanted to have us players talk about certain topics" (HERALD SUN, 1/16). In Sydney, Sam McClure reported while Djokovic admitted that there was a portion of the meeting where only players were present, he "shut down any talk of a potential boycott" in '19. Djokovic: "We wanted to use this opportunity to speak about certain subjects and see how everyone reacts to that and see what the opinions are. There was no talk about boycotts or anything like that. I've never intentionally thrown anyone out of the room, everything was done in a normal and polite way" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/16).

SOCIAL REACTION: In London, Kevin Mitchell reported former player Andy Roddick, an advocate for "more equable distribution of prize money in the game," referenced the players' involvement in the ATP -- which also acts for tournament directors (GUARDIAN, 1/16).

BARGAINING POWER: In London, Simon Briggs reported Djokovic's denial is "at odds with the widespread understanding" that a professor of law, specializing in labor relations, was present at the meeting. The "central thrust" of Djokovic's argument is understood to be that the ATP cannot coordinate strike actions, and thus leaves the players "lacking in bargaining power," whereas a separate union would have that option (TELEGRAPH, 1/16). The AP's Justin Bergman reported world No. 4 Alexander Zverev said that Djokovic "did most of the talking at the meeting," which was attended by all of the top male players at the season's first major. Zverev: "I don't really have a position (on the subject) because that was the first time it was mentioned. Everybody listened to it. That's about it" (AP, 1/16). In Auckland, Cheree Kinnear reported Serbian tennis player Victor Troicki said that it was "just ridiculous" how small a percentage players received from grand slam revenue. When asked if he had an opinion on the matter, Troicki said, "I do. I do. I have an opinion but I think what happens inside the union with the players should stay inside, and we'll see." Roger Federer was said to be in favor of the "status quo" and has reportedly said that he was "comfortable players were receiving enough" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 1/16).

Curling "will sweep onto the ice" at next month’s PyeongChang Olympics with the "proud boast of being the world’s fastest growing winter sport," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The "roaring game," with its origins in the "frozen ponds and mists of medieval Scotland, is now popping up in the sort of sunny places" where ice usually "comes in cubes to cool the drinks." Qatar’s men’s curling team celebrated its first int'l victory last November, beating Kazakhstan on Australia’s "sun-soaked Central Coast north of Sydney." World Curling President Kate Caithness said, "You’d obviously think curling is for winter sport countries, it’s not really." Caithness, one of "only two female presidents of any Olympic sports," added, "Give us a hall and we’ll make ice." The "main growth areas" over the next four years for the sport are likely to be China and the U.S. Caithness: "China is a huge, huge market for us. We’ve just signed a $13.4 million contract with a sponsor (Kingdomway Sports) in China for the next four years in the run-up between now and 2022." Starting this year, a new "made-for-television World Cup" will start with four city events on three continents forming the "Road to Beijing." USA Curling last year signed a sponsorship deal with Pepsico’s Frito-Lay brand Cheetos (REUTERS, 1/16).

Formula 1 execs "will present their vision for the future to all current race promoters" at a conference in London on Wednesday, according to Lawrence Barretto of MOTORSPORT. Since completing its takeover of F1 in Jan. '17, Liberty Media has held discussions with all the stakeholders and conducted its own research as "part of plans to reshape the championship." It will present its findings and plans for the future during an eight-hour conference. F1 CEO Chase Carey, Managing Dir, Commercial Operations Sean Bratches and Managing Dir Ross Brawn "are expected to give presentations and answer questions" (MOTORSPORT, 1/16).

NEGOTIATION CONCERNS: MOTORSPORT's Straw & Barretto reported McLaren F1 Exec Dir Zak Brown warned talks surrounding the future of F1 beyond '20 must not become "destructive." Each team has an individual bilateral contract with Formula One Management tying it to the championship and these expire at the end of '20. Talks regarding "what form the next agreements will take" are ongoing. Brown said, "My big concern now is the negotiations for the new contract will be tough, some teams will be tougher than others and I think we know who. I hope, but I'm not confident, that they can negotiate behind the scenes and not too much through the public, which I don't think it's going to be the case because they already are" (MOTORSPORT, 1/16).

Sports clubs in Dublin "are being awarded the lion's share of government grants even though they score lower marks" in a rating system designed to establish projects' merits. An analysis of last year’s grants for capital works in sports organizations "shows that hundreds of highly-rated projects around Ireland are missing out on essential funding" because of a rule that the awards "must be distributed to counties on a per capita basis" (LONDON TIMES, 1/16).

The IAAF announced a $500,000 solidarity fund to help member federations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean recover from the damage caused last year by four hurricanes. The fund is made up of contributions from the IAAF, the Int'l Athletics Foundation and Seiko (IAAF).

FINA unanimously approved a new program aimed at supporting its national federations through the distribution of up to 70% of the IOC TV revenue share. The project represents an approximate quadrennial budget of more than $21M (FINA).