Washington: The day before the annual Army-Navy gridiron game, an even larger interservice rivalry will be contested on video game battlefields.
The Call of Duty Endowment Bowl on December 11 will match teams consisting of esports athletes from each branch of the US military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Space Force – as well as members of the United Kingdom’s British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy.
The matches, played on the recently-released Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War game, will broadcast live starting at on the Call of Duty YouTube and Twitch channels.
“The eight teams representing military branches in the four-hour tournament will each have two popular Call of Duty streamers on board, one serving as captain, and will be coached by a Call of Duty League professional. Well-known streamers joining the teams include Courage, LEGIQN, Huskerrs, Swagg, Espresso, Vikkstar, Tommey, C9Emz, and Spratt.
Finally, after months of endless speculation, Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia has confirmed the commencement date for the next year’s Australian Open.
Admittedly, the CEO revealed that months of organizing the grand slam tournament is challenging as the pandemic came to surface. Yet, he confirmed that the 2021 Australian Open has been postponed until February 8th.
Despite the lingering concerns that next year’s event will be cancelled, Tiley had informed players the Australian Open would take place in early February.
“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on 8 February,” Tiley said in email communication.
Albeit following safety protocols, players will have to undergo two weeks of quarantine from the 15th of January. Special conditions, though, will be agreed by the Victorian Government for AO participants. It has been agreed that they need to be able to prepare for a Grand Slam.
Tiley added, “There will be strict conditions, but after quarantine, players are free to stay where they want, go where they want, play lead-in matches and then compete in an AO in front of significant crowds in a great Melbourne atmosphere for the first time in many months.”
The original plan is that the players should fly in from mid-December so they could undergo quarantine before playing traditional warm-up events. Yet, State Premier Daniel Andrews reportedly only wants players to arrive from early January, which makes it impossible to play the build-up events before the original start date.
The Premier rest assured that he remained committed to holding the tournament; however, safety was paramount in a state that only recently emerged from a lengthy lockdown to eliminate the second wave of COVID-19. The Premier told media “Only the Australian Open is a tennis tournament in a city where it can likely be assumed that those players will bring the virus here”.
The commencement of the Australian Open on February 8 would allow for a week of warm-up tournaments after the players emerge from quarantine. That being said, build-up events such as the men’s flagship ATP Cup would likely have to be scrapped in 2021.
Rafael Nadal, 20-time Grand Slam champion, revealed that these trying times have urged him to challenge his patience and for other player’s as well, as they waited for confirmation.
“That is difficult for everyone,” Nadal said at the ATP Finals in London. “We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”
No. 3 Villanova has added a third game at Bubbleville, the 11-day gathering of college basketball teams in Connecticut for early season nonconference play
By The Associated Press
November 27, 2020, 4:10 PM
• 2 min read
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
No. 3 Villanova has added a third game at Bubbleville, the 11-day gathering of college basketball teams in Connecticut for early season nonconference play.
The Wildcats are now scheduled to play Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun arena against Virginia Tech.
Temple had been scheduled to be the Hokies’ opponent for that game, but the Owls said Thursday they were was pausing team activities for 14 days following a positive coronavirus test in the program.
Villanova has already won two games this week at Mohegan Sun, beating Boston College, 76-67 on Wednesday and No. 18 Arizona State 83-74, on Thursday night to win the Empire Classic.
There are several tournaments and stand-alone games being played in the modified bubble at the Connecticut resort casino through Dec. 5.
The Denver Broncos canceled practice Friday after another player and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s the third time this season the Broncos have had to scrap practice because of the coronavirus. And it comes a day after No. 3 quarterback Jeff Driskel went on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Broncos informed players early Friday that their facilities are closed and meetings will be held remotely leading to Sunday’s home game against the New Orleans Saints.
The Broncos previously canceled practices on Oct. 30 and Nov. 4 after a player either tested positive or came in close contact with an infected individual.
The Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium will not be played this year.
The game matches teams from the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference. Organizers announced Friday that because of the recent increase in coronavirus cases in the region and state and local travel restrictions in New York, the game is off. The plan is for it to return next season.
There have now been eight bowls that will not be played this season, reducing the total number of games to 35.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sportshe Latest on xxxxxxx (all times local):
“We’ve got obviously a huge amount of complexity in negotiating, with both Tennis Australia but also with the ATP and the WTA. And then there’s the conversations with the Department of Health and Human Services and Justice so it’s a very complicated set of conversations,” he said.
“I’m still confident we’ll have an Australian Open, and we’ll have one in the early part of the year.”
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, host broadcaster Nine – owner of this masthead – will want the start date to be as closed to January 18 as possible, to maximise summer ratings and avoid rearranging its schedule.
“There’s a number of potential dates on the title of the report suggests that it’s likely they will be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely, but it’s not the only option,” Mr Pakula said.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter [delay] rather than a longer one.”
Ideally, international players would want to be able to train and play in a bubble, meaning they could complete quarantine while preparing for the grand slam. But Pakula wouldn’t be drawn into specifics.
“They’ll certainly be in quarantine, the exact nature of that quarantine, whether or not it’s their own bubble, or something more common is still part of those conversations but I’m not going to conduct those conversations and negotiations in the public domain.”
Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters he would not risk the health of Victorians, who have fought so hard to stop the spread of the virus.
“The rest of the world is on fire, so there will be quarantine for anyone coming to our city or state,” Mr Andrews said on Sunrise on Wednesday.
“You’ve got 250,000 cases a day in the United States, Europe is not much better, many parts of Asia are really struggling.
“As important as a tennis tournament is, we’re not going to jeopardise our coronavirus status by anything other than the highest standards.”
Meanwhile, three-time major winner Murray has thrown his support behind tennis players being subject to compulsory COVID-19 vaccination “for the good of the sport”.
However he said any vaccination needed to be safe and protected by clinical trials.
Asked by reporters whether players needed to be vaccinated in order to compete at tournaments, Murray said: “Good question. Yeah, I think probably should be the case.
“I would hope that all the players would be willing to do that for the good of the sport – providing everything has proved to be safe, clinical trials and everything have been done and there are not any significant side effects.
“I guess we’re not going to know the long-term effects potentially for a while. But, from what I’ve been hearing on the TV and on the news, is that there shouldn’t really be any long-term effects. So I would hope, providing all the clinical trials and everything have been done, that the players would all be willing to do that.”
World No.1 Novak Djokovic is one player who has openly voiced his concerns about compulsory vaccination, especially in order to be able to travel freely.
Earlier this year the 17-time major winner tried to clarify his stance by saying by saying he was keeping an “open mind”.
“I am no expert, but I do want to have an option to choose what’s best for my body,” Djokovic said in a statement reported by The New York Times. “I am keeping an open mind, and I’ll continue to research on this topic because it is important and it will affect all of us.”
Murray indicated that players would be supportive of vaccination if it resulted in a return to normal. “So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the ATP and the ITF decide what their position is going to be on that. But I’m confident that players would be into it if it meant the tour going back to normality.”
Sam McClure is a sport reporter for The Age and winner of ‘best news reporter’ at the AFL Media Association awards.
Sumeyya is a state political reporter for The Age.
The decision is complex, given players and their support staff would prefer to get into the country well before the tournament.
When asked on Saturday about reports suggesting the Open could be pushed back to March or April, Premier Daniel Andrews said: ‘‘… from the seventh of next month we can have flights returning to Melbourne and a hotel quarantining system will be reset and set up at that point and this is not a simple thing, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1000 athletes and others who support them, media, being here for a very important event. It has to be done safely, it has to be done right.
‘‘I am very confident we will have an Australian Open in the early part of next year. The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet.’’
The Open’s junior events have been postponed, with officials telling participants on Saturday that it had been pushed back due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and Australian Open juniors tournament director Francis Soyer announced the postponement in a letter to players, with an aim to hold a replacement tournament in 2021.
“Australia has had relatively few cases of COVID-19 … and this has been achieved through strict biosecurity measures which include limiting international travellers into Australia, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals,” the letter read.
“These limits along with the increased biosecurity requirements have unfortunately made it extremely difficult for us to run a junior event at the 2021 Australian Open.”
Tennis Australia declined to comment further on Saturday.
The current timeline has raised doubts about players taking part in any lead-in events, such as the ATP Cup men’s teams event, which remain shrouded in uncertainty
Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge said on Saturday that moving the two-week event to another spot in the calendar remained possible.
“I don’t think that’s an outcome we would be wanting,” Woodbridge said on the ABC.
“But stranger things have happened in 2020, haven’t they? Roland Garros – being played in September instead of May, even in the golf world the [US] Masters recently just finished a week ago and of course that’s played in April normally.
“These are all things that at some point you would have said ‘no, that’s not possible’.
“[But] financially, to sustain these events, you can’t lose a year. There’s so much at stake.”
Woodbridge said, despite the great uncertainty, it was highly unlikely the Open – a mainstay of Melbourne’s major events strategy – could somehow be shifted to another city.
“I think that would be hard-pressed now given the timeframe to be honest with you,” Woodbridge said.
“The thing we have is that the size of the event in terms of the draws and so forth [and] the facilities required … Melbourne Park is the perfect place to be able to do that.
“The early part of next year, 2021 – all of the tennis calendars are looking shaky.
“All of those discussions are ongoing too, between Tennis Australia, the men’s tour, the women’s tour and the International Tennis Federation about trying to work out what’s best.”
The manager of Alex de Minaur, one of Australia’s best players, has said there was a risk other players could boycott the tournament if preparations were not deemed to be up to scratch.
International sport has been thrown into turmoil since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March. Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since 1945, while the US Open was held without spectators and Roland Garros shifted to September.
Wimbledon had the benefit of cancelling this year with pandemic insurance protection to draw upon but, as The Age revealed in July, Tennis Australia had previously taken out similar insurance coverage for the Australian Open but that policy was due to expire. Thus, they would not be able to draw on the policy for the 2021 event.
Tennis Australia had proposed for players to land in Melbourne in early December and exist in biosecure “controlled bubble” environments in which movement is limited to travel between hotels and the practice court. Tiley has previously told The Age that costs for organising quarantine conditions would exceed $30 million.
Central to TA’s negotiations with health officials has been the capacity for players to practice while undergoing quarantine. World No.1 Novak Djokovic this week called for “support and understanding” from Australian authorities while even advocating for players to be allowed to compete in the second week of quarantine.
Coverage: Radio and text commentary online with in-play clips. Daily highlights on BBC Two – full details here
In a year like no other, we are set for a Masters like never before.
Moved from its traditional spot in April because of the coronavirus pandemic, Augusta National will host the final major of this calendar year in unprecedented circumstances.
The field is the same as it would have been when the tournament was cancelled in March, but the picture is very different.
Autumnal hues have replaced the blooming shades of spring and the roars of the patrons have been silenced, with no spectators permitted on site.
But what does hosting the event in November mean for the players, the course and the local community?
‘Locals call it a second Christmas’
Nineteen months have passed since Tiger Woods slipped on a fifth Green Jacket but the absence of golf’s most iconic major and its patrons has been felt beyond Magnolia Lane.
“This is a huge blow,” explains sports writer Scott Michaux, formerly of the Augusta Chronicle. “It’s a massive economic engine for the community in so many different areas.”
The tournament provides an annual windfall said to be worth $100m (£76m) for the Augusta economy. More than 200,000 people pass though the city during Masters week, doubling its population.
Hotels hike up their rates to sometimes six times the average price, locals move out of town for the week to rent their properties to patrons and some nearby golf clubs sell tee times for $1,000.
“River Club, Champions Retreat, Forest Hills, Akin GC, Palmetto GC in South Carolina, they make an enormous amount of money that week, not just for the golf, but some cater and host social events in the evening and rent out their clubhouse,” says Michaux.
“Then you have the people who rent their homes, they count on that income every year – home-renters, caterers, they refer to the Masters as either a second Christmas or the 13th month of the economic year, that’s how big it is to the community.
“Every little industry you think of is affected by this in Augusta. You can’t replace not having it for a season. Augusta National is fine, they can go years without having fans and still be in great shape economically, but the community is hurt badly by it.”
The initial disappointment of a postponed Masters was offset by optimism when, in April, it was announced the tournament would be rescheduled for November, with patrons.
Schools in the surrounding area schedule their spring breaks to coincide with Masters week so that families can rent out their homes or students can get work – doing everything from picking up litter at Augusta National Golf Club, to working in merchandise or helping at food outlets.
Following the postponement, those schools moved the autumn break, which usually occurs in late October, back to November to marry up with the belated Masters. Then came the news it would not be possible to permit fans.
“People assumed they were going to get this bump in the fall rather than the spring,” adds Michaux. “Now the kids will be off, but there won’t be a Masters for them to work at.”
Playing into the hands of the big hitters?
The Augusta National ground staff are renowned for their meticulous preparation and the venue will no doubt look immaculate – every blade of grass clipped and coloured to perfection.
The greens should be in pristine condition. All 18 boast a subair system that can suck out moisture, enjoying their own microclimate that can be adapted depending on the time of year or whether the bentgrass putting surface is situated in the shade or sun.
The club says, with Augusta closed from mid-May to mid-October to prepare it for members in the autumn, the rescheduled Masters did not substantially alter their turf preparations.
However, the consensus is the track will play longer in November than it does in April because of cooler conditions and “stickier” fairways.
The reason for those, explains Michaux, is agronomy. The fairways have a base of bermudagrass which is scalped down and overseeded with ryegrass every September.
“The difference is it will be less mature than it is in April,” says Michaux, who will be one of 100 media personnel on site. “They might not be able to cut it down quite as low as they usually do on the fairways.”
Add to that the potential for stronger, changing winds and rain, with possible thunderstorms forecast on Thursday, and it could play into the hands of the field’s bigger hitters.
That will prick the ears of the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, who overpowered the notoriously difficult Winged Foot to win his first major at the US Open in September and recently posted an image from his launch monitor showing a drive which flew 403 yards in the air.
The American’s coach, Mike Schy, says a “soft” Augusta National would benefit his charge, who has experienced similar conditions when playing the course in December.
“When you look at Matthew Wolff, runner-up at the US Open, he was hitting it pretty far, but the fairways were hard and fast, whereas Bryson was carrying it 50 yards past him,” Schy told BBC Sport.
“Seeing this week there will possibly be a little bit of cold weather, rain, thunderstorms coming in, the golf course is going to be super soft. So Bryson carrying it 320, 330 yards is a ginormous advantage.”
What will the course look like?
The absence of patrons means spots where crowds normally gather, like down the side of the 16th, and around many of the greens, will look different, but the course will also play differently without spectators.
“It’s not just the sheer fact that Augusta patrons are unbelievable and it’s awe-inspiring and intimidating in some ways,” says Schy. “But to have nobody there and be able to have a ball roll through something as planned is pretty cool. It makes that golf course way bigger.”
It has been suggested DeChambeau may use that to his advantage by driving over the pines to the left of the dog-leg par-five 13th to reach the 14th fairway, giving a better angle into the green.
“I think it is doable, because nobody is there to block the ball and end up in a bad spot,” explains Schy.
“It’s going to be interesting if that’s available. I’m not sure what the carry distance is to that fairway, if the ball is able to roll through there then that is definitely in play.”
Ground staff often make subtle adjustments to the site and the time of year means a two-tee start has been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, while Sunday’s final round is due to finish around 19:30 GMT, partly to fit in with American rights holders’ American football broadcasts.
“We are going to see a different golf course, a different kind of Masters – it will be quiet, you’ll be able to see things you don’t normally see,” adds Michaux.
And what about the azaleas…?
According to Golf.com, around 350 types of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses grow at Augusta, formerly home of Fruitland Nurseries, so something will be flowering amid the towering pines this week, even if the traditional azaleas may have passed their peak.
Augusta say the club’s nursery team have instead decided to utilise “nandina, pampas, camellia and other plants that enhance the grounds in the fall”.
That said, Michaux says he has ‘Encore’ azaleas still blooming in his backyard in Georgia. These differ from those usually spotted at the Masters, but don’t put anything past Augusta National.
The azaleas will be on show in five months’ time when the Masters returns to its usual April slot, and Michaux says everybody has their fingers crossed that patrons will be there too.
“Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said don’t throw away the plans because we might need them again in April,” says Michaux.
“There is a lot of concern. I would say it is 50/50, at best. If we’re in the same kind of situation, I think they’ll find a way to do it, at least on a limited basis.”
The first five-point conversion has been kicked in rugby union and it’s happened at the inaugural Bermuda World Tens tournament.
The 10-a-side game, which is a hybrid form of the sport that sits somewhere between 15s and sevens, has a number of rule variations and ‘Conversion Jeopardy’ is maybe the most eye-catching and experimental.
According to World Tens: “Conversion jeopardy, with the conversion after the try, ensures that the conversion is now worth between one and five points depending where the kicker selects which zone to kick from.”
This allows a team to bag as many as five points if they successfully land a conversion from behind the halfway line.
USA Eagles international Ben Cima of the Ohio Aviators landed the first five-pointer in rugby union during his side’s match against Phoenix.
The World Tens Series is an international, professional Rugby Tens tournament.
Privately owned teams tour the globe competing in pools and knockouts, in a similar fashion to the World Sevens Series.
The first-ever World Tens Series tournament got underway in Bermuda this weekend and from 2021 the tournament will be expanded to include 16 teams competing in tournaments in 12 locations throughout the world.
Get all the latest rugby news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
The @worldtens competition has been absolutely thrilling. The first round capped off with an epic win by the young guys @rhinos_rugby (the story of the tournament.)
-Conversion jeopardy is electric. -The commentators are excellent. -Each team has their own style.
The Football Association wants England to win a major tournament within the next four years as part of its growth strategy for women’s and girl’s football.
The ambitious target is one of eight objectives in the FA’s four-year ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ strategy.
England is scheduled to host the Women’s European Championship in 2022.
“Football has the power to change lives for the better,” said FA director of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell.
“It can contribute to physical and mental wellbeing, it can provide opportunities to compete and collaborate with others, and it can help to shape the place of girls and women in wider society.”
The European Championship was originally due to take place in 2021 but was pushed back a year after the men’s Euro 2020 tournament was rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Australia and New Zealand are then scheduled to host the Women’s World Cup the year after.
As well as tournament success, other objectives include growing commercial revenue to help the Women’s Super League become the best professional sports league in the world and supporting the development of coaches and female referees.
The new strategy is designed to build on the FA’s three-year ‘Gameplan for Growth’ launched in 2017.
The eight objectives it hopes to achieve by 2024 are:
Every primary school-aged girl to have equal access to football in school and in clubs.
Every girl to have equal access to participate for fun, for competition and for excellence.
Collaborate with clubs to develop an effective high-performance, inclusive player-centred pathway.
Create the best professional women’s sports leagues and competitions in the world.
Win a major tournament.
Recruit and support a motivated, diverse range of local leaders organising football for their communities.
Support the development of exceptional coaches at every level of the game who are representative of our society.
Ensure that every female referee afforded high-quality bespoke learning and development opportunities from grassroots through to the elite game.
England Women’s captain Steph Houghton says the strategy has the potential to be “truly game-changing” for women’s football in the country.
“When I and many of my team-mates were girls, opportunities to play the game were few and far between, so to see the breadth and scale of the FA’s ambitions in the next four years is extremely exciting,” she said.
England’s women’s side have never won a major tournament, finishing European Championship runners-up twice in 1984 and 2009.
They reached the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, as well as the 2017 European Championship.
Phones are banned at tournaments, because chess software can be used to help players gain an advantage; some tournaments require players to pass through metal detectors.
“Igor Rausis caught red-handed at a tournament in Strasbourg,” World Chess Federation director Emil Sutovsky wrote on Facebook at the time, adding that the Latvian-Czech player was “long suspected” of cheating.
He is now at the centre of another chess storm after he was sprung competing under a new identity at a tournament in Valka, Latvia, with reports claiming he changed his name after last year’s fiasco.
However, chess.com now reports a rival grand master identified Igors at the competition and alerted tournament officials.
However, the event, which included a rapid tournament and a blitz tournament, was not an official FIDE event, clouding the issue of Rausis’ participation.
Officials failed to secure official FIDE tournament status because the event only featured 37 players and had a total prize pool of 1000 euros ($1630).
The report claims Rausis was accused of further trying to conceal his true identity by wearing a face mask as some of his fellow competitors also did in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, rival grand master Arturs Neiksans spotted Rausis at a nearby table at the event and pushed for his immediate disqualification, launching an official protest.
The information was passed up the chain of command to officials back in Riga, before it was ruled that Rausis was free to play in the tournament because it was not an official FIDE event.
However, with the situation at boiling point, Rausis eventually agreed to withdraw in the middle of the tournament after reportedly being asked to leave.
Neiksans, however, took further action by publicly calling for FIDE to come over the top and force tournament officials to change their decision.
In a Facebook post that called out FIDE, Neiksans wrote competitors were left “furious” because Rausis’ involvement stained the tournament which was being staged to honour chess coach Vsevolods Dudzinskis, who died earlier this year.
“Just in round 3 I noticed that in the tournament incognito is playing the notorious Igors Rausis, who has been banned by FIDE to play in tournaments for 6 years,” he wrote.
“He was wearing a mask and playing on the lower boards with a name of Isa Kassimi thus I did not even notice him.
“When I confronted Rausis, what is he doing here, violating the ban, he showed me a new ID with the new name. That made several participants immediately furious, and his round 3 opponent declined to play against him. But what happened next, really shocked me.
“The tournament organizer, unclear how to solve the incident, decided to call one of the main arbiters in Latvia, for an advice. And the advice from the nation wide recognized arbiter was – it is legal for Rausis to play!
“I immediately protested that allowing Rausis to continue to play taints the memory of my coach. The tournament director kindly asked Rausis to leave the tournament, and he luckily complied without further incident.
“I wonder what FIDE would have to say in this matter?”
FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky eventually responded on Twitter, suggesting the event should have banned Rausis despite not having any jurisdiction to do so.
“To everyone making a fuss of Rausis playing under different ID: This was NOT a FIDE-rated event,” he posted.
“So, technically we can not forbid him play in some private, non-rated event. However, I’d expect the organizers of such tournaments to treat it according to the spirit of a decision.”
Rausis said simply he did not attempt to cause any offence and had checked to clarify his eligibility before officially entering the tournament.
He also denied attempting to conceal his true identity.
“I am a well-known figure in Latvian chess. Everyone could have recognised me already during the first round,” he told chess.com.
“Before I went to Valka I double-checked with the Latvian Chess Federation if the tournament is rated. I was said it is not registered and therefore never will be rated.”