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Volume 7 No. 149

Events and Attractions

With seven months until the Rugby World Cup, organizing committee CEO Akira Shimazu said Thursday that the number of foreign fans set to attend the quadrennial tournament has far "exceeded his expectations," according to Ayano Shimizu of KYODO. He said that the event will see about 500,000 tickets sold to foreign fans who will travel throughout Japan, including Kamaishi in the country's northeast -- a city that "hopes to showcase its recovery" from the '11 earthquake and tsunami. While most foreign arrivals last year were from Asian countries -- with only 7% from traditional rugby nations such as Britain -- Shimazu said that the Rugby World Cup "will allow Japan to introduce its attractions to first-time visitors." He said, "I'm sure the lineup of inbound tourists will change drastically with the Rugby World Cup in Japan and that will be a big legacy to be left after the tournament" (KYODO, 2/21).

England & Wales Cricket Board Chair Colin Graves is "expected to face opposition" from his own board over his proposal to punish Surrey County Cricket Club by "ditching the Oval" as one of the eight venues for The Hundred that starts next year, according to Elizabeth Ammon of the LONDON TIMES. Graves "wants to jettison the Oval" because Surrey did not vote in favor of a constitutional change to allow the new 100-ball format to go ahead. The 71-year-old’s course of action against the county, which "he insists he cannot work with," will "likely split the board," which comprises 11 independent directors. An emergency meeting is expected to be "held shortly." At least four of the directors are "expected to raise concerns about not wanting to be party to a decision that smacks of petulance" by Graves and the "financial impact that losing the largest county would have." Although the "bulk of the income" will come from TV revenue and sponsorship, any decision to move the competition away from the Oval will "deter potential sponsors" (LONDON TIMES, 2/21).

The opening stages of the Tour de France will shift 750 miles away from Paris to Denmark in '21. The race will begin on July 2 with a 13km flat run around Copenhagen "followed by two more stages around the country." A 190km stage between Roskilde and Nyborg will follow. The last stage before heading back to France will be in the "hilly" Jutland peninsula between the towns of Vejle and Soenderborg (AP, 2/21).

Six Nations regulations state that the away side "gets the discretion" and has to inform Wales of its decision more than 24 hours before kickoff, and England has "asked for the roof to be left open for the match." Wales' default position is to "always leave the roof closed for home matches," but in this Championship the away side has to state its preference before the match (London DAILY MAIL, 2/21).

Rugby Championship side Widnes Vikings postponed Sunday's game against Sheffield Eagles "with discussions ongoing to ensure the club's survival." A prospective takeover of the club "fell through" on Tuesday and the club was unable to pay staff on Wednesday. Widnes said that the decision to postpone Sunday's game was done "in conjunction" with the Eagles (BBC, 2/21).

Ironman announced that Ironman 70.3 Italy Emilia-Romagna was chosen as the latest race addition to the '19 calendar. The inaugural event will take place on Sept. 22, replacing previous host city Pescara (Ironman).