Hello and welcome back to the Sports Roundup! It has been a massive week of sporting news, most notably, the proposed formation of the European Super League. However, just as soon as it was announced, it has been cancelled and will no longer go ahead. Once again, we see the power of the fans. The power of the people who make sport what it is – a competition of people fighting for glory and balancing on the edge of failure. Let’s take a look at my Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week!
Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week:
5. The Queensland Bulls win the Sheffield Shield! The Sheffield Shield is the domestic first-class cricket competition of Australia, culminating in a final between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Bulls. NSW struggled throughout the match, only managing 143 runs in the first innings and 213 in the second. It was Australian batting sensation Marnus Labuschagne that capitalised on the Blue’s batting failure, scoring 192 runs in a single innings to place Queensland in an unassailable position.
4. Hideki Matsuyama becomes the first Japanese winner of the US Masters! Matsuyama claimed a one-shot victory and consistently remained composed as competitors aimed to challenge his position. However, as they faulted, Matsuyama maintained his position to consolidate the victory over Masters rookie Will Zalatoris. Matsuyama has long carried the weight of expectation to deliver Japan a Masters title, and he did it. He persisted for a decade and achieved his goal.
3. Motorsport Madness! The past weekend was a dream for any motorsport fan. The F1 returned to Imola, where Verstappen converted a lightning start to victory, and Lewis Hamilton defied the odds to claim second place, although suffering front wing damage twice in the race. In the MotoGP, it was Fabio Quartararo who pounced on his opponent’s mistakes to take a dominant victory at the Portugal GP, despite the late push of Ducati rider Fabio Bagnaia. The V8 supercars returned to Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania, where the dominance of Shane Van Gisbergen was slightly contained by teammate Jamie Whincup and an inspired performance by Chaz Mostert.
2. Jake Paul v Ben Askren! The promotion leading up to this fight was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Every social media platform was riddled with advertisements about the fight, which included more music performances than actual boxing. It was Jake Paul who dominated the fight, knocking out Ben Askren in the first round with relative ease. The payday for both athletes is rumoured to be well in excess of a million. For Paul, another money fight is around the corner, and he has every right to choose who that opponent will be. For Askren, he goes back home with a pocket overflowing in cash, a nice gift as he enters his professional fighting retirement.
1. Steph Curry is on fire! There have been great players over the last decade in the NBA, but no one has transformed the game like Steph Curry. Although he is without All-Star teammate Klay Thompson, and the team is on the playoff bubble, Curry has continued to consistently perform at his career-best (and that’s saying something for a two-time unanimous MVP). Curry has hit 72 3-pointers in his last 10 games, the most in league history and has drained 10 or more 3-pointers for the 21st time in his career. No player has more than 5 games in their career.
Feature Article: Is Tokyo 2021 Doomed?
Unfathomable optimism. That is the only way that I can describe the belief that many Japanese officials have on how likely the Olympics are to take place this year.
A fourth wave of COVID-19 has recently hit densely populated parts of the country, causing a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, only 3 months before the Olympics Games. A state of emergency may be declared in Tokyo in the coming days due to the unprecedented levels of infection in many areas.
Moreover, COVID-19 cases worldwide have spiked recently, with countries such as India recording more than 200,000 cases per day. It may be hard to believe, but the pandemic has never been as infectious as it is right now. For many people in Australia, including myself, we have mentally moved on from the concerns of the virus, but for millions around the world, the threat of the virus remains.
This recent outbreak in Japan has only furthered fears that continuing with plans for the Olympics could further increase cases within the nation. A recent opinion poll showed that many of the Japanese public opposes holding the games due to this exact reason. The risk of a large outbreak and the economic disaster that could unfold doesn’t seem proportionate to the modified Olympic games that may take place.
Personally, I think it’s possible but may not be worth the risk. We have witnessed, over the past months, leagues around the world implementing strict measures to ensure the safety of players, staff and fans. It has enabled sporting codes to resume their seasons with minimal disruption and protect players from harm. Still, the size of the Olympics is beyond any domestic league. Is Japan able to implement the same strict measures of domestic leagues on an international scale? If they can, I believe the event should take place. However, if there is a risk of failure, why would you put your nation at such a risk?
If Japan can’t gain control of this new wave of COVID-19, how does it expect to maintain control of the largest sporting competition in the world?