Colors: Yellow Color

British Athletics has today announced that it has accepted a request from World Championship finalist Sophie McKinna to take up the original offer of membership to the Olympic World Class Programme (WCP) for 2020.

Shot putter McKinna enjoyed a memorable 2019 reaching her maiden World Championship final in Doha with a personal best of 18.61m, rounding a progression of 85 centimetres from 2018, and winning the first British titles of her career indoors and outdoors.

She was given the chance to join the WCP at the start of December however athletes can use their discretion should they not wish to accept membership. Following a request to British Athletics, McKinna will now take up her membership, which remains open to all athletes offered it for any given year.

McKinna will be welcomed at Podium Potential level. The British Athletics WCP is UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded initiative to support the delivery of success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Membership onto the WCP for 2020 is based upon an athletes’ potential to win a medal at Tokyo 2020 or Paris 2024.

Sophie said: “I am very pleased to be accepted into the WCP, during the season British Athletics have supported me through injury and allowed me to get back to full fitness quickly. I am very much looking forward to pushing on with the remainder of the 2020 season and onward to 2021.”

Head of Field & Combined Events at British Athletics, Peter Stanley, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sophie onto the World Class Programme. She enjoyed a fantastic 2019, proving herself among the best shot putters in the world delivering an outstanding performance and great personal best when it mattered in Doha.

“Sophie is a brilliant young athlete who we believe will benefit greatly from being on the World Class Programme and we look forward to working closely with her as she continues her development guided by her coach, Mike Winch.”

As National Allotment Week passes, it has been announced that the Walsall Road Allotments in Birmingham will be receiving a much-needed upgrade.

The work being done is thanks to McLaughlin & Harvey, the lead contractor at the Alexander Stadium redevelopment in Perry Barr.

Over the course of the next week, the construction team will be upgrading one of the roads in the allotment used by The Open Doors Project, a non-profit organisation that provides outdoor activities for young people with disabilities or additional needs.

The upgrade will be delivered as part of McLaughlin & Harvey’s You Matter Communities, which provides support to local communities through volunteer time, small grants and the use of excess materials from the construction process.

Kate Millington, Director at The Open Doors Project CIC, said: “Our allotment is a much-loved space and gives the children we work with opportunities to explore nature and take part in a range of activities.

“We are excited about the re-paving of the road next to our plot as it will make access much easier for the young people who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids.”

The works to the road will go on over three to four days and involve the volunteer contributions of nine members of the Alexander Stadium redevelopment team.

McLaughlin & Harvey Operations Director for the Alexander Stadium, Martin Keys, said “You Matter Communities is about making a positive contribution to Birmingham’s communities.

“As a neighbour to the Walsall Road Allotments, we are happy to use our skills in this way and delighted that it will improve the access for the young people involved in The Open Doors Project long after we have completed the stadium project”.

Betty Farrugia, Site Manager, Walsall Road allotments, added: “We are really pleased that McLaughlin & Harvey have made this generous offer. The road upgrade will make it much safer for the young people who take part in the activities. We’ve also benefited from donations of picnic benches and some loads of topsoil from the site team which has benefitted many of the plot holders.”

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “Our partners at McLaughlin & Harvey really impressed us with their vision for the Alexander Stadium project when they outlined their vision for becoming good neighbours and an active part of the local community.

“Through activity like this, they are making a positive difference for many people in Perry Barr and I look forward to seeing many other groups and projects benefit from their efforts in the months and years ahead.”
 

Joshua Cheptegei produced an astonishing run in Monaco to break the 16-year-old 5,000m world record by almost two seconds.

The 23-year-old Ugandam, who won the 10,000m world title in Doha last year, had promised he would take a shot at the time but success seemed unlikely. However, guided by trackside lights illustrating world record pace, he came home in 12 minutes 35.36 seconds.

The previous mark, set by Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele, was 12:37.35.
Remarkably it is Cheptegei's second world record in Monaco this year, despite the season being badly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. He broke the 5km road world record in the principality in February..

"Monaco is a special place and it's one of these places where I could break the world record," he said. "It took a lot to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home but you have to stay motivated."

Elsewhere, world champion Noah Lyles showed his quality in the 200m with a commanding victory in 19.72 seconds. His younger brother Josephus was second on his Diamond League debut ahead of fourth-placed Adam Gemili of Britain in 20.68 seconds. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who won heptathlon world gold last year, admitted she was "not in the best shape" after finishing sixth in the high jump with 1.84m, 14cm short of her personal best.

Cheptegei was not the only athlete to make light of the lack of competitive action in 2020 to post impressive times. Britain's Laura Muir broke Dame Kelly Holmes' 21-year-old British 1,000m record with a time of 2:30.82, in a race won by Kenya's Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon in the second fastest time in history.

"Racing a time like today gives me a lot of confidence going into an Olympic year," said Muir. "To do that in my second run, to run a British record I'm really, really pleased with it."

Norwegian world champion Karsten Warholm turned the 400m hurdles into a solo time trial, breaking Kevin Young's 1992 meeting record in 47.10 and serving notice of his intention to do the same to the American's long-standing world mark.

Scotland's Jake Wightman took more than two seconds off his 1500m personal best, coming home in 3:29.47. It earned him a creditable third behind Timothy Cheruiyot and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, world and European champion respectively, and moved him up to second in the British all-time standings.

Kenyan world champion Hellen Obiri took a comfortable win in the 5,000m, with rival Sifan Hassan stepping out of the race with a couple of laps to go and Britain's Laura Weightman claiming a personal best in third.

Great Britain's Andrew Pozzi has re-started the year in electric form. The 28-year-old, who came within three hundredths of his personal best in Finland on Tuesday, duly matched it with a time of 13.14 seconds to claim a narrow second place behind Spain's Rio 2016 silver medallist Orlando Ortega in the 110m hurdles.

Compatriot Kyle Langford earned a 800m personal best of 1:44.83 in fifth behind world champion Donavan Brazier of the United States. Previous attempts to stage international athletics this season, notably in Oslo and Zurich, have featured athletes competing remotely via video link, rarely-run distances and small fields.

With a limit of 5,000 socially-distanced spectators and star-studded start lists competing in the same stadium, Monaco's Diamond League opener was a partial return to normality. But the effects of the pandemic were still visible.

Athletes prepared for races on the infield to give them more space than Stade Louis II's regular call-room affords, crowd noise was pumped into the venue and American pole vault world champion Sam Kendricks was unable to compete after his pole failed to make it to the stadium on time.

 
With the Müller British Athletics Championships three weeks away, two more World Para Athletics champions – Aled Davies and Jonathan Broom-Edwards - and several reigning British outdoor champions including Morgan Lake and Sophie McKinna, join the journey to the event hosted at the Manchester Regional Arena on 4-5 September.
 
Aled Davies secured his fourth consecutive world shot put title last season in Dubai, just a few weeks after becoming a father, and he’ll be throwing competitively for the first time since November. The Welshman has been a regular at the British Athletics Championships over the last few years, and he will face a strong field including defending champion Scott Lincoln who leads the entries as he seeks a sixth consecutive British outdoor title.
 
Another world champion to grace the in-field will be Jonathan Broom-Edwards who will compete in the men’s high jump. At the World Para Athletics Championships in the UAE, the Newham & Essex Beagles athlete scored his first title at that level in the T64 high jump. He’ll join 2019 British champion Allan Smith who has already been confirmed.
 
In the women’s equivalent, Commonwealth silver medallist Morgan Lake will target a fifth consecutive British outdoor title after dominating the event since 2016.
 
Sophie McKinna contests the women’s shot put with the outdoor champion returning to action. The world finalist will take on 2020 indoor champion Amelia Strickler who secured that title in Glasgow back in February.
 
Among the reigning Müller British Athletics outdoor champions who are returning to defend their title is Harry Coppell who cleared a remarkable PB of 5.71 metres in Birmingham last year to qualify for the men’s pole vault at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
 
In the men’s discus, 2019 gold medallist Nic Percy will face a strong field including Lawrence Okoye (Croydon) who currently leads the 2020 UK rankings after a throw of 65.15 metres last month.
 
In the women’s equivalent, Kirsty Law will be aiming to retain her British crown and she goes up against current UK lead Jade Lally who is also among the entrants.
 
Meanwhile, Jess Mayho and Laura Whittingham return as the reigning British champions in the women’s hammer throw and javelin respectively.
 
Britain’s best athletes will be lining up to provide athletics fans with their fix of the country’s favourite Olympic and Paralympic sport.
 
The format and shape of the competition and guidelines that will be adhered to for competitors and those helping to stage the Championships will be subject to the government guidelines in place.
 

Organisers of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have announced that more locations across the West Midlands and the country could be set to benefit from this major multi-sport event being staged in England, as the search for local areas and facilities to host pre-games training camps officially begins.
 
Some of the 71 nations and territories taking part in the Games are looking to set up camps to ensure they have a base from which to prepare, train and acclimatise ahead of the event – the biggest ever to be staged in the West Midlands region.
 
Hosting teams in this way can often provide an economic boost but the areas involved can also benefit in other ways including; gaining additional profile for the venues and facilities hosting the camps, building or strengthening relationships with Commonwealth nations and providing opportunities to inspire young people from local clubs or the community, who may have a chance to watch training sessions or take part in events.
 
John Crabtree, Chair of Birmingham 2022, said: “We have frequently said that the whole region and even the whole country will benefit from Birmingham 2022 and pre-Games training camps are a really great example of how that’s possible.
 
“We are expecting 6,500 athletes and officials to come to Birmingham and the region to compete in the Games and many of those teams, especially from the larger Commonwealth nations, will be looking to arrive early, acclimatise and fine tune their preparations, before moving into the official Games time accommodation.”
 
The process to match suitable hosts with competing nations and territories from across the Commonwealth is being overseen by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Its team is working in conjunction with UK Sport and Sport England, helping to match up local authorities and suitable venues with those Commonwealth Games Associations looking to organise camps for their teams.
 
Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said: "This is a great opportunity for communities right across the country to play their part in Birmingham 2022. From fostering relationships with other Commonwealth nations to building the profile of local venues and facilities, there are significant benefits from hosting pre-Games training camps. I would encourage anywhere with the right facilities to express their interest."
 
Birmingham itself has successfully staged pre-games training camps in the past, with USA Track and Field and the Jamaican Athletics Association previously choosing the Alexander Stadium and the University of Birmingham respectively, as locations for their training camps, prior to both the London 2012 Olympic Games and the London 2017 World Athletics Championships.
 

 

Record number of GB & NI Paralympic and World Medallists set for Müller British Athletics Championships

The Müller British Athletics Championships will hold four para events for the first time at the Manchester Regional Arena on the 4 and 5 September 2020, welcoming a record number of para athlete entries across the field.

With competition opportunities restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic this summer, two wheelchair and two ambulant track events have been added to the programme at the Championships with six world medallists from the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships among those confirmed so far.

In the women’s ambulant 100m, sprinting royalty Sophie Hahn and Maria Lyle will line up. Both won double gold at the WPA Championships last November; Hahn setting world records in both the T38 100m and 200m, while Lyle bagged her first world titles in the T35 races for the same distances. They will be joined by European T38 400m silver medallist Ali Smith, as well as previous WPA Junior medallists, Simran Kaur (T47) and Kirsty Taylor (T44).

In the men’s ambulant 100m, Thomas Young will line up looking to show the form which saw him win world silver in the T38 100m in Dubai last year. He’ll be joined by Bolton-based Ola Abidogun who was in the form of his life in 2019 as he returned to the world stage finishing sixth in the T47 100m final, running a PB of 10.92 on his way there.

12-time world champion Hannah Cockroft will race in the 400m wheelchair race where she will join 2017 double T53 world champion Sammi Kinghorn over the one-lap distance. Joining the pair will be three-time 2019 WPA Junior T54 silver medallist Eden Rainbow-Cooper who will be among those opening her season in the north-west.

In the men’s wheelchair equivalent, T54 400m world bronze medallist Richard Chiassaro will take on European universal relay gold medallist Nathan Maguire over the one-lap contest. Ben Rowlings – a multiple European medallist in the T34 category – joins the field as does T54 400m European bronze medallist Dillon Labrooy. This adds to the names which included F20 shot put world champion Sabrina Fortune as well as Paralympic long jump silver medallist, Stef Reid.

Major Events Director at British Athletics, Cherry Alexander, said: “We are delighted to welcome a record number of para athletes to the field for the Müller British Athletics Championships. We are pleased to create further competition opportunities for all our world-class athletes by adding these four para events to our programme. We already have a host of Paralympic and world champions confirmed for the Championships in the field, so we are delighted to announce this quality line-up on the track too.”

With the championships being broadcast live on Friday night on BBC2, extended to 1800-2100 and Saturday, afternoon on BBC1, 1315-1630, Britain’s best athletes will be lining up to provide athletics fans with their fix of the country’s favourite Olympic and Paralympic sport.

The format and shape of the competition and guidelines that will be adhered to for competitors and those helping to stage the Championships will be subject to the government guidelines in place and will be communicated in due course.

 

Birmingham 2022 unveils venue for 3x3 basketball and beach volleyball to mark two years to go
 
In exactly two years’ time, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will begin, and organisers are marking this major milestone on the countdown to the Games by unveiling Smithfield, with its impressive city-scape backdrop, as the chosen location to create two bespoke arenas side by side to stage the 3x3 basketball and beach volleyball competitions.
 
Smithfield, previously the site of Birmingham’s Wholesale Markets, is located at the heart of the city centre and will be a crucial venue, for the host city, creating an urban hub that’s just a short walk from Birmingham’s famous Bullring shopping centre, with views of the Rotunda and Selfridges building.
 
The new venue announcement has been warmly welcomed by the sports that will play there, and comes on what would have been the fourth day of sporting action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with the prospect of a major multi-sport home Games providing a positive point on the sporting horizon for Team England hopefuls to set their sights on over the next 24 months.
 
Temporary courts for the two sports have been set up at the site as part of the two years to go celebrations, giving current and future stars of both sports, and young basketballers from the City of Birmingham Basketball Club the first chance to try out the location and to provide just a flavour of the sporting action that spectators can expect in 2022.
 
Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, who is visiting the site today, said: "2022 will be a fantastic year of celebration for the UK, with a number of major events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Festival 2022. 

“With two years to go until Birmingham 2022, we've reached another major milestone. The site at Smithfield will be right at the heart of that, acting as a powerful focal point in making this a Games for everyone and helping to create a real buzz in the heart of the city.”
 
Birmingham 2022 finalised using the Smithfield site after working closely with the host city and the national governing bodies and international federations for the sports.
 
Chief Executive Officer for Birmingham 2022, Ian Reid, said: “Today marks exactly two years to go until the official opening ceremony for Birmingham 2022 and we’re on track with our plans to host a spectacular event which will not only put Birmingham and the West Midlands centre stage but will also be an integral part of the region’s recovery plan following the global pandemic, bringing jobs for local people and contracts for local businesses.
 
“Smithfield is a fantastic location for these two sports, allowing us to bring together thousands of local people and spectators from further afield and enabling us to create a key hub for the Games in the heart of the city centre. It’s currently a blank canvas which will allow us to transform this location into a vibrant venue for two exciting sports that will no doubt bring a festival atmosphere to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
 
The 3x3 version of basketball is making its debut as a Commonwealth Sport in Birmingham. It will also be the first time that wheelchair basketball in any format has featured at a Commonwealth Games, a sport which is expected to be one of the highlights of the integrated para sports programme – the biggest in history for the multi-sport event, with eight sports set to feature at Birmingham 2022.
 
Beach volleyball will be making its second appearance at a Commonwealth Games after the sport was added to the Birmingham 2022 programme last summer. The Smithfield site, at the heart of the landlocked city of Birmingham, will provide an interesting contrast to the sport’s first Commonwealth Games appearance on Australia’s Gold Coast, however organisers revealed that its popularity with a younger audience was one of the main reasons for choosing to add the sport, identifying this as a good fit for a city that is one of the youngest in Europe, with 60% of its residents aged 30 or under.
 
The Smithfield site is owned by Birmingham City Council and its Deputy Leader, Councillor Brigid Jones, said: “We are delighted to be able to make available a prime piece of city centre land in the council’s ownership as a Commonwealth Games venue – making it a focal point of Games-related festivities in the city in the summer of 2022.
 
“It offers a stunning backdrop that depicts the very best of Birmingham’s past, present and future, showing off a key part of the city’s skyline to a massive global audience.
 
“And for the people of Birmingham, the Games-time plan gives a fantastic purpose and use to this land before we bring forward our plans to redevelop the site into a thriving hub of residential, commercial and leisure developments, including a new home for our retail markets.”
 
The Commonwealth Games Federation is also joining the other Games Partners in celebrating the countdown to Birmingham 2022 and CGF President, Dame Louise Martin DBE, said: “Today marks two years to go to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. It only feels like yesterday that the Commonwealth Games Federation awarded the city the right to stage the XXII edition of the competition, when in reality, that announcement was back in December 2017!
 
“Birmingham and the West Midlands are making excellent progress towards staging a fantastic competition for athletes, fans and spectators, alike, across the Commonwealth.
 
“Birmingham is one of the most culturally diverse cities of the UK, home to 187 nationalities which makes the 2022 Commonwealth Games really feel like a home Games for all of our 71 nations and territories. It is truly a Commonwealth city. We are looking forward to welcoming the world to the West Midlands in just two years’ time.”
 

In the ‘run-up’ to what should have been the Great Birmingham Half Marathon, Birmingham-based charity LoveBrum is asking runners to take on the challenge and complete their own race in support of good causes in the city.
 
LoveBrum will send out bespoke medals to individual participants who complete their half marathon – and for teams, additional medals can be purchased separately. Just send evidence of your run to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by sending a screenshot using a running tracking app. There will also be prizes for #OneBrum ‘Fundraising Heroes’; the runners who raise the most for the appeal. 
 
Paul Mitchell, executive director at LoveBrum, said: “We were overwhelmed by the support we received from the running community when we invited people to run 10k for Brum back in May. We know how disappointed many runners are by the cancellation of events this year; many will have put in a lot of training and miles, and we don’t want it to go to waste. 
 
“As well as hitting their own goals, they’ll be giving a massive boost to the amazing support our nominated charities are giving those most in need during the pandemic.”

Updates, videos and images can be shared on social media by using #OneBrumHalf. 
 
The OneBrum campaign is raising vital funds, which are being distributed to local charities and community projects across Birmingham. Donations have helped to deliver care packages to those most vulnerable still sleeping on the streets; provide advice, support and food parcels to those most affected by the pandemic; and support children, young people and families who have been affected by loss, bereavement, divorce or separation
 
OneBrum has a simple premise; everyone in Birmingham is being asked to do just two things; donate £1 to support the work happening right now in Birmingham to support local communities, and do one thing locally to help - whether that’s phoning someone in isolation or completing a shopping drop to a vulnerable person.  

LoveBrum is encouraging both individuals and teams to pull on their running shoes, sign up at https://lovebrum.org.uk/event/onebrum-half-marathon/, and run their own race on Sunday 11th October (the planned event date), for a donation of £20 to its #OneBrum appeal.
 
To get involved with #OneBrum, go to www.lovebrum.org.uk or follow LoveBrum on social: @lovebrum

Participants can also donate £1 via JustGiving at www.justgiving.com/campaign/onebrum, or text ONEBRUM to 70085 to donate £1.
 
 

Indoor gyms, swimming pools and other indoor sports facilities have seen a cautious return of customers as they reopen their doors for the first time since March. However, it's thought at least a third of public facilities have stayed shut.

The leisure sector has warned it will still struggle because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Gyms that reopen must follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, such as limiting the number of people using the facility and spacing out equipment.

Facilities should also reduce class sizes and ensure adequate ventilation, according to government guidance issued earlier this month. Outdoor gyms and pools have been open in England since 4 July because there is less risk of catching coronavirus outdoors.

Indoor gyms in Northern Ireland opened earlier this month, but they remain closed in Scotland and Wales. Swim England has published its own guidance for operators on how to reopen indoor pools, including implementing a one-way entry and exit system.

Its chief executive Jane Nickerson said financial problems meant less than 20% of pools will reopen this weekend. The cost of heating the pools and implementing the new guidelines, as well as the reduced footfall and fewer swimming lessons, mean many cannot afford to open, she said.

She also called on the government to give more financial support to struggling pools, saying the money would also help with its plan to tackle obesity. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed gyms and sports facilities will not reopen in Luton or Blackburn with Darwen due to an increase in coronavirus cases in those areas.

Despite the relaxed rules, industries bodies have warned many facilities could be forced to close amid the pandemic.

Community Leisure UK, the members' association that specialises in representing charitable leisure and culture trusts across England, Scotland and Wales, estimates that 48% of all public leisure facilities face closure, meaning as many as 1,300 could disappear by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.

Over 200 athletes have confirmed their entry for the Müller British Athletics Championships with six weeks to go including World Championship silver medallist Shara Proctor and para world champions Stef Reid and Sabrina Fortune.

Following official invites being sent last week, the number of athletes confirmed to compete in Manchester from September 4-5 has surpassed 200 with Proctor and Reid’s appearance setting up a world class women’s long jump with Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers having made the decision to star two weeks ago.

Fortune, who added the world F20 shot put title to her European crown last year, will compete once again in an integrated field in the women’s shot put as will five-time Paralympic medallist Dan Greaves in the men’s discus and world record holder in the F41 shot put Kyron Duke in the men’s shot put.

Zak Seddon, Britain’s first finalist in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at a World Championships since 1983, is the latest in a long list of British champions from 2019 confirmed to defend his title with Spencer Thomas, who won a dramatic men’s 800m final last year, among the next wave back to defend his title in Manchester.

Sprint hurdler David King, holder of both the 60m indoor and 110m outdoor titles for the first time in his career, joins Seddon and Thomas aiming to regain their British champion status as does Allan Smith in the men’s high jump after ending a five-year wait for gold last year.

Amelia Strickler will be bidding to add the outdoor crown in the women’s shot put to the indoor success she achieved in Glasgow in February as does Adam Hague in the men’s pole vault.

European champion in 2018 as part of the British men’s 4x100m relay team Harry Aikines-Aryeetey will travel to Manchester while Marc Scott and Chris Baker will look to top the Müller British Athletics Championships podium once again after wins in the 5000m and high jump back in 2018.

Cherry Alexander, Major Events Director at British Athletics, said: “The Müller British Athletics Championships are really starting to take shape with over 200 athletes confirming that they will compete in Manchester in September. We have announced a host of star names over the past two weeks and the latest list is no different and shows that the level of competition will be extremely high.

“It is fantastic to see our best para athletes choosing to compete as part of integrated fields once again and we look forward to more of the same as we countdown over the next six weeks.”

 

A four-dimensional strategy has been unveiled at a major ministerial forum, to help governments sustain the sport sector ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s ‘Data, Digital, Diversify and anti-Discrimination’ strategy will help the sector adapt to the new normal and continue contributing to health and wellbeing, community spirit and economic growth.

The sport industry is expected to experience a recession several times worse than the average sector of any economy, according to a new Commonwealth supported study. Thousands of jobs, livelihoods and social benefits could be at risk.

The ‘data’ pillar provides critical research on COVID-19’s impact on the sport sector to help countries monitor and better target responses.

The ‘digital’ pillar offers a repository of COVID-19-adapted virtual solutions, including training courses and knowledge products, which are reproducible and accessible to all member countries.

The ‘diversify’ pillar contains policy guidelines to modify modes of delivery to get more people active safely and spread investment and resources to grow domestic sport markets. The final pillar includes a call to action to intensify the fight against racism and discrimination in and through sport in the Commonwealth. Supported by the four pillars, the strategy will help governments design, modify and implement resilient sport policies and programmes to tackle the pandemic’s impact on the sector.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “It is clear the sport and physical activity sector demands consideration in the ongoing response to the current pandemic and the preparation for any future outbreaks. It is important then for member countries to take advantage of our suite of new resources, cleverly designed to help them respond to the new COVID reality and create pandemic-resilient sectors and populations.”

The Commonwealth Ministerial Forum on Sport and COVID-19 takes place virtually on 23 July, which will be attended by ministers, senior officials and representatives of sport bodies and regional organisations.

The virtual forum will hear from member countries on how they are responding to and planning to recover from the COVID-19 shocks in the sport sector and ensure the Secretariat’s work is finely tuned to their existing and emerging needs.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage, Amina Mohamed, will chair the virtual forum. She said: “Today, we find ourselves in an unprecedented global health crisis, which has touched almost every corner of the world and our lives, including our mobility. I am hoping that through this forum, we can leverage the Commonwealth cooperation and partnership to collectively overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic in the sport sector and beyond.

“Responding to new challenges requires coming up with fresh solutions on the back to existing approaches so this gathering is an important opportunity for Commonwealth countries to share their experiences on what has and what has not worked in tackling COVID-19 disruptions.”

British Athletics can confirm the cancellation of the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead, which was originally rescheduled for 12 September.

A joint statement from Gateshead Council and British Athletics said: "It is with sad news that we announce that the proposed Müller Grand Prix Gateshead due to take place this September, has now been officially cancelled.

“The government measures brought in earlier this year due to COVID-19 have ultimately prevented the progress of the much-needed upgrade of the facilities at the Gateshead International Stadium.

Time has ultimately defeated us to ensure that International athletes can not only compete in a safe manner but can also compete to their full potential using world class facilities.

“We will continue to work together to achieve our ambition of returning International Athletics back to Gateshead next year.” 

Leading British Basketball League team the London Lions have confirmed the addition of five-year NBA veteran DeAndre Liggins to their 2020-21 squad.

The 6’7” forward/guard last played in the NBA during the 2018 Play-Offs as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, but also played 64 games for Cleveland Cavaliers and had his longest stay with the Miami Heat and their G-League affiliate, Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Achievements include being the G-League Champion in 2016 also an All-Star and two-time G-League Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2016.

Liggins appeared in 34 games (33 starts) for Sioux Falls during its 2016 championship season and averaged 13.0 points, 7.0 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.06 steals per game.

2018-19 saw the Kentucky Wildcats graduate play in 25 G-League games – including 21 starts – Liggins averaged 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.

“I am very excited to join such a winning and upcoming organisation,” said Liggins. “My competitive edge and winning mentality will certainly be effective immediately in the London Lions’ organisation. I’m excited and can’t wait.”

Lions Head Coach, Vince Macaulay added, “This is a great opportunity for us all in British Basketball. Deandre is an unbelievable hard worker, we wanted someone that would nullify the highest of European talent and we think we have him.

“His experience, his team ethos will no doubt spread into our team and I’m delighted we could sign him and I’m sure all our fans will take him to their hearts.”

Fans will get to see the team for the first time on 15 September, with Lions taking on Neptunas Klaipeda in a Basketball Champions League qualifier.

 

The world of sport has been severely disrupted by Covid-19, with headlines highlighting everything from cancelled events and empty stadiums, to athlete health and spectator safety. But the pandemic has also had a huge knock-on effect on businesses that support the sport industry - and nowhere is that more apparent than around the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Games, originally due to start today, Friday, have been delayed until summer 2021, affecting UK firms who had been fortunate enough to win work.

British companies were set to provide parts for water sport courses, ambulances for horses, power generators, and Olympic venue construction - not to mention softer services such as sponsorship expertise. Two of the bigger affected firms are ES Global and Aggreko Events Services.

Glasgow-based Aggreko is the only British firm among the 66 official Tokyo Olympic partners and sponsors, and has been part of the Games since Seoul 1988, providing generators. Its initial Tokyo contract value was around $200m (£158m) and Aggreko said earlier this year it expected that to increase to around $250m. It has received more than $100m in payments so far, as the Japanese hosts continue to deliver scheduled instalments.

Robert Wells is the managing director of Aggreko Events Services.
"A postponement is much better than a cancellation," he says. "At the moment we are in detailed conversations with the Games' organising committee. There is a huge logistics operation to reschedule things." He said Aggreko was now removing generating equipment it had already installed in some Olympic venues.

They will go back to Aggreko's facility in Tokyo, stored, and tested to make sure they are ready for next year.

"Clearly there will be a cost of delay," Mr Wells adds. "But we can't quantify that at the moment. We are talking continuously with the organising committee about what it may be."

As well as generators Aggreko is also supplying the likes of electrical distribution, power cabling, as well as battery storage units to support electricity from existing Japanese power grids. The firm will be employing a multi-national team of some 500-plus staff and contractors in the run up to the Games, and more than 300 during the event. Meanwhile, London-based ESG will build and dismantle temporary venues for six events: triathlon, shooting, golf, tennis, rowing and hockey.

"Although organisers have made statements that the Games are only postponed, there are contradictory statements coming out at a lower political level - there is a certain level of uncertainty," says Olly Watts, joint chief executive of ESG. "It has been made clear there are circumstances under which the Games could be cancelled, depending on how the virus continues in Japan and worldwide.

"Our existing contract has cover for any Games cancellation."

He says the firm is waiting to see if the Tokyo organisers are going to come up with new contracts, now the event is taking place in 2021.

"Any changes will be slow to filter down," he says. "With regard to our existing contracts, my feeling is they will be honoured."

ESG had started installing venues, for example, 99% of the shooting venue was in place when the Games were called off in March. The others all had equipment on site and were ready to erect.

Shooting is largely being left up. With the others, all equipment is being stored on site.
Olympic Games organisers say they are renegotiating existing contracts "for example, with regards to fulfilment periods and delivery dates" and are also "newly procuring other items that will be required".

It is not just big-name firms who have been affected by the postponement.
Smaller UK firms are hoping to showcase their expertise to the Japanese and wider sporting world.

Newmarket-based Equisave designs and manufactures horse ambulances. For founder Bill Fellowes, who started the business in 2000, this will be his third Olympics after London 2012 and Rio 2016.

His ambulances are manufactured in the UK and the firm provides them to 17 British racecourses and the Middle East.

"For Tokyo these will be our first trailers to have air-conditioning because of the temperatures there," he says.

Equisave is providing six vehicles, with two non-air conditioned vehicles already shipped for test events in Japan last year, and the four high-tech ambulances set to follow.

"My contract originally said to ship the remaining items in April but the Games were cancelled before then. In my line of work it is financially feast or famine, and we couldn't afford to sit on the ambulances for a year.

"So we came to an arrangement. As long as the Games organisers would pay for the cost of the ambulances in full - which they have done - we will store them here in the UK free for them."

The remaining ambulances will now be shipped next year. Despite the uncertainty, one small UK firm is well ahead of the game on Olympic installations.

Cumbria-based RapidBlocs makes large blocks to be used in the canoe slalom event. Its equipment has been installed into the concrete course in central Tokyo's Kasai Rinkai Park.

Company founder Andy Laird says large blocks - made from polyethylene and steel - are put onto the concrete base of a canoe course. The blocks then "sculpt" the direction and flow of water. Mr Laird says work was finished a year ago.

"We are all paid for. We made it, shipped it, and then installed. The trial event has been held and the course was great."

As well as Tokyo 2020, he has also already installed the canoe slalom course for the 2024 Games in Paris.

"We completed that in May 2019," he says. "We are done and dusted for the next two Olympics. That is four Olympics we have supplied now."

Away from infrastructure, Len Olender is from True Gold Communications, an agency that helps sponsors and sports bodies with their Olympic marketing programmes. He has previously worked with the likes of Samsung, Coca-Cola, Fujitsu and NTT.

Now on his 14th winter and summer games, he has been helping the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC).

"We had secured a wonderful plaza at Tokyo harbour for our showcase Oceania Village in partnership with the city of Tokyo," he says. But the postponement means it is not known if the site will be available next year.

It is hoped that the project will pick up again early next year, but Mr Olender does not know if there will be funding to restart it. However, he says there is a potential silver lining to the Olympics' delay.

Games partners will have the opportunity to activate their sponsor programmes in a different way, taking account of things like social distancing and AI technology - which could create opportunities.

Also, Tokyo 2021 organisers might want to sell the Games as part of the global "rebirth" of the sporting world after coronavirus.

"This could mean heightened interest to be on the Olympic bandwagon, and hence more opportunities for marketing agencies, and sponsorship experts."

India will not travel to England for the proposed women's tri-series because of coronavirus restrictions.

They were originally due to tour in June and July but those matches were postponed. And with South Africa due to arrive later in the summer, it had been hoped the three sides would play a tri-series, but the rising number of cases in India mean they will not be able to travel. It is understood England will try to extend the series against the Proteas and will no longer be hosting India later this summer, after the visitors pulled out of a proposed tri-series due to coronavirus.

The T20 World Cup runners-up had initially been scheduled to tour in June, but lockdown restrictions saw the matches postponed. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had hoped that it could instead arrange for India to take part in a tri-series along with South Africa later this summer, but the country's Covid-19 crisis has meant they will be unable to commit. India has reported 1.1 million cases of the infection, and scheduled flights to the UK are currently suspended.

England's squad returned to training, following three months out of action after their World Cup semi-final exit and it is understands that the ECB is pushing to potentially extend England's run of fixtures against South Africa, originally scheduled as two T20s and four one-day internationals, in order to get as much play as possible. Dates for the series have not been confirmed but are expected to be announced for late August at the earliest.

Coronavirus has ravaged what was expected to be an exciting summer for women's cricket this year. The Hundred competition, which would have seen women's domestic cricket aired on terrestrial television and players receive salaries, was a major casualty to the crisis after it was cancelled since March. The ECB, however, reiterated its commitment to the women's domestic game and 25 players were awarded retainers, in a step towards offering professional status to those outside the England squad.

Full-time contracts, which will be a step up from the retainers, are expected to be allocated later this year. Also, details about the new elite domestic competition for later this summer - comprising the new regional teams made up from county groupings - are likely to soon be announced.

 

The men's T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia later this year, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament was due to take place between 18 October and 15 November. An edition will be held in October and November 2021 and another in 2022.

ICC (International Cricket Council) chief executive Manu Sawhney "The decision gives us the best possible opportunity of delivering two safe and successful T20 World Cups.

"Our members now have the clarity they need around event windows to enable them to reschedule lost bilateral and domestic cricket."

It has not been announced whether the 2021 tournament will be held in India as planned, and the 2022 competition in Australia, or the Australia edition will be moved to 2021 and India to 2022.

The ICC also announced that the 2023 50-over men's World Cup in India will move from February and March to October and November. It says it will "continue to evaluate" the situation before deciding on the 2021 Women's World Cup in New Zealand in February, with planning continuing as scheduled.

The men's 2021 T20 tournament will finish on 14 November and England are set to start their Ashes tour of Australia later that month. Melbourne, which was scheduled to host seven games including the final, went back into a six-week lockdown on 9 July after a spike in coronavirus infections.

All travellers entering Australia currently need to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Test cricket returned in England on 8 July with all the players and people involved in the game in a bio-secure bubble but the ICC deemed that unworkable with 12 different nations involved. England are playing a three-Test series against West Indies - who arrived in England four weeks prior to the first Test in Southampton to meet isolation restrictions - before playing series against Ireland and Pakistan in late July and August.

They are also hoping to play a limited-overs series in September against Australia, who named a preliminary 26-player squad last week in a "positive albeit not definitive step".

The postponement means the Indian Premier League, which was due to start on 29 March, may take place in the vacant window later this year, while England's tour of Sri Lanka that was called off in March may also be rearranged.

The next Women's T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in South Africa in 2022.
Australia won the 2020 edition in one of the last major sporting events before lockdown.
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