Entirety of Rugby World Cup Promised to New Zealand
New Zealand will stage its Rugby World Cup on-time and in-country, says the International Rugby Board.
Christchurch mayor Bob Parker and New Zealand prime minister John Key are equally adamant last week's earthquake not strip Christchurch of its rugby share. (Getty Images)
Friday’s vote of confidence from the sport’s governing body confirmed what tournament organizers had insisted ever since a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch last week, killing at least 163 and leaving about 200 more missing.
“It is clear there has been damage to Stadium Christchurch, accommodation and other infrastructure. However, no decision will be taken about the RWC 2011 matches scheduled to be held in Christchurch until accurate and confirmed information has been received and analyzed following the completion of the currently ongoing full assessment,” the IRB said in a statement.
“Whatever the outcome of the detailed assessment, all 48 matches will be hosted in New Zealand and the tournament will kick off on September 9."
Christchurch is due to host five pool matches and two quarterfinals during the two-month competition. In the wake of the Feb. 22 quake, some speculated that the city’s share of the Cup could be moved to Australia, a rumor squashed by Friday’s statement.
Stadium operators will receive reports March 15 assessing the status of the venue. Until then, says the IRB, rugby must take a backseat to reality.
“It is appropriate that the focus must remain on the extensive recovery and response operation in Christchurch and it would not be right for Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) to speculate or comment on Christchurch’s ability to host Rugby World Cup 2011 matches as planned until an extensive review and assessment has been completed,” said the IRB.
Reports from New Zealand media indicate bubbles up to half a meter high could render Christchurch’s pitch unplayable for at least five-and-a-half months. Matches begin in six, and Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says he’s “utterly, absolutely, totally committed” they do so in his city.
The stadium "is going to be fine for the Rugby World Cup and we are determined to make it happen here in Christchurch,” he said Thursday at a press conference, adding that damage to downtown hotels was a bigger concern than the stadium itself.
Parker’s comments echoed those of New Zealand prime minister John Key, who said Wednesday
he’s holding out hope Christchurch can fulfill its role in staging the Cup.
Host Exemptions Extended to British Table Tennis Players
British table tennis players will compete at the London Olympics.
Paul Drinkhall is Britain's top table tennis player at number 88 in the world. (Getty Images)
The British Olympic Association announced Friday that three men and three women will get host nation qualification spots for 2012.
"British Table Tennis has proven that the young squad of players are capable of delivering a credible performance on the field of play in 2012,” BOA CEO Andy Hunt said in a statement.
Britain won silver in the team event at last year’s Commonwealth Games and now has two men and two women ranked in the top 200 worldwide compared with none prior to the Beijing Olympics.
Though exemptions are custom for Olympic
host countries, the BOA says only those British athletes who can deliver both “a credible performance” and “a meaningful legacy” will receive automatic berths into the Games.
As usual, the decision was taken by the BOA’s Olympic Qualifying Standards Panel in consultation with the sport’s NGB, in this case British Table Tennis.
Handball, volleyball and weight lifting were extended similar courtesies in past months.
Legacy Contractors Wanted for Olympic Park Conversion
The Olympic Delivery Authority is looking for contractors to help realize its legacy vision for London Olympic Park.
London’s Olympic Park is rapidly taking shape, as evidenced by this aerial shot dated Feb. 8. (ODA)
“We are on track to complete the Olympic Park venues, infrastructure and parklands ready for London 2012 and are putting in place a team to transform them for their legacy use after the Games,” ODA design and regeneration director Alison Nimmo said Friday in a statement.
Among the advertised opportunities are landscaping 250 acres worth of parklands, delivering the legacy cycling facilities, building football fields and completing 15km of cycle and foot paths as well as a road network connecting the Olympic Park with surrounding neighborhoods.
The post-Games conversion of the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and Aquatics Center are already covered under existing contracts.
Written by Matthew Grayson.
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