Tagged in: pandemic

Catalan government gives go-ahead for 2021 Spanish GP

The government of Catalonia has given the go-ahead for Spanish Grand Prix organizers to agree a contract extension with Formula One for 2021.

The May 9 race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya is listed as subject to contract on the sport’s record 23-round provisional calendar.

The regional government said in a statement it had authorized Circuits de Catalunya SL to sign the renewal. “The signature guarantees the celebration of the 31st consecutive edition of this event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” it said.

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“The F1 Grand Prix is ​​an asset that contributes to Catalonia’s position in the world in the fields of tourism and automotive.”

The circuit agreed last year an extension to cover this year’s race, which was held in August and without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after fears it would drop off the agenda.

Spain will have two drivers on the starting grid next season

With Carlos Sainz moving from McLaren to Ferrari while double world champion Fernando Alonso makes a comeback after two years out.

Alonso has returned to Renault, the team that took him to his titles in 2005 and 2006 and which is changing name to compete under the French manufacturer’s Alpine sportscar brand.

The 2021 campaign is due to start in Australia on March 21, although how that unfolds will depend on the state of the pandemic. There is also still a slot, vacated by Vietnam, to be filled on April 25.

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Trevor Bauer rejects Cincinnati Reds’ qualifying offer, but open to return

Free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer has rejected the Cincinnati Reds’ $18.9 million qualifying offer for the 2021 campaign, agent Rachel Luba revealed on Twitter.

Luba, however, said Bauer remains open to discussing a return to Cincinnati and “all other interested teams thru Free Agency.”

“Why wait for the QO to expire to state the obvious,” agent Rachel Luba tweeted Wednesday. She added that Bauer “believes the QO is a ridiculous process so let’s just put it to bed.”

Bauer, 29, who went 5-4 with a National League-leading 1.73 ERA in 11 starts last season and is a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award, was one of six players in Major League Baseball to receive the qualifying offer.

His salary in 2020 was $17.5 million. If Bauer signs with another team, the Reds will receive draft-pick compensation in the 2021 draft.

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Players have until Nov. 11 to decide whether to accept the qualifying offer.

In nine campaigns, Bauer is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA. Drafted No. 3 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, he was traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal in 2012 and spent seven seasons with the Indians before he was traded to the Reds in 2019.

Because of pandemic-related penny-pinching, Bauer is unlikely to land a contract on par with Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million). FanGraphs crowdsourcing projects a three-year deal worth $29 million per year for Bauer. I think five years is possible. If he indeed takes one year, it could come in as high as $35 million. Maybe more.

The Reds presently have approximately $103 million on the books for nine players next season, plus $21.2 million in projected arbitration salaries for another nine players.

Last year’s $166 million full season payroll would’ve been a franchise record, and with payrolls set to come down following the pandemic, it’s uncertain whether Cincinnati can afford to keep Bauer.

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Djokovic avoids upset bug in New York

Bothered by a bad neck that a trainer massaged twice, Novak Djokovic double-faulted seven times and trailed by a break in each set before avoiding the rash of upsets at the Western & Southern Open by taking the last four games for a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis on Monday.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was playing his first ATP match in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. He withdrew from the doubles event on Sunday because of his neck.

“I’m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s been like that for the past three or four days.”

Djokovic improved to 19-0 in 2020 as he prepares to seek a sixth title in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments when the US Open begins in a week. That major championship’s site in Flushing Meadows is hosting the Ohio-based Western & Southern Open as part of an unusual doubleheader with no spectators.

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Djokovic got by, even though he was wincing and stretching his neck between points.

He wound up lying on his back — with a medical mask and protective glasses on his face — while having his neck manipulated after the first set.

While the tours were shut down, Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in June after a series of no-social-distancing exhibition matches that he organized in Serbia and Croatia.

As tennis ramps up — this is the first tournament of the resumption for the men; the women returned earlier this month — there has been a host of surprises, including defending women’s champion Madison Keys’ 6-4, 6-1 departure versus Ons Jabeur in an hour Monday night.

No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, a three-time major finalist, wasn’t competitive in a 6-2, 6-1 defeat to Filip Krajinovic, and No. 5 Alexander Zverev hit 11 double faults — five in his last two service games — while being defeated by Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Like Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka emerged with difficult victories, and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the No. 6 seed, lost Monday. Each of the top two women’s seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin, were defeated Sunday.

Djokovic next meets American Tennys Sandgren, a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5) winner over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who accumulated 15 double faults. Another American, Reilly Opelka, eliminated No. 9 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (4).

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Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021

For thousands of athletes around the world, it would have once been considered a nightmare scenario.

And on Tuesday, it became official.

In an unprecedented and unavoidable turn, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics “to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021” due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is the first time in modern Olympic history that a global health issue has disrupted the Games.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times,” the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said in a joint statement. “And that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.”

Organizers said the Olympic flame will stay in Japan during the delay, and the Games will also continue to formally be called “Tokyo 2020,” even as they move to 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach formally agreed to the decision Tuesday, amid intensifying pressure and public pleas for clarity from athletes and governing bodies alike.

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While the Olympics have previously been canceled during periods of war, and complicated by boycotts, this is the first time they have ever been suspended.

It is not immediately clear whether the Games will be moved to the summer of 2021 or the spring, when Japan’s famous cherry blossoms are in bloom.

“A lot can happen in one year,” stated Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. “So we have to think about what we have to do.”

The decision to move the multi-billion dollar event will have widespread political, legal, logistical and financial ramifications, both locally in Japan and around the world. 

It also figures to cause headaches and heartaches across the international sports community — for federations and leagues that must now adapt their schedules, and for the 11,000 athletes who had spent years training to compete this summer.

Beyond finances, this decision will also cause substantial disruptions for athletes, many of whom have put off college or other opportunities to train full-time with the objective of peaking in July. Now, they will have to put their training on hold. Some might be forced to give them up altogether — their Olympic dreams dashed, a nightmare come true.

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