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Coronavirus update: LaLiga runs music festival, ONE fights on, AFL pay dispute, and more

Spanish football’s LaLiga is running an online global music concert to raise funds for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

‘LaLigaSantander Fest’ is supported by a host of LaLiga sponsors, as well as record label and music business Universal Music and management company GTS. Artists featuring in the concert include Alejandro Sanz, David Bisbal, Aitana, Sebastián Yatra and Antonio Orozco. It will take place this Saturday, March 28.

The concert will be streamed and broadcast globally on LaLiga’s channels including league-owned television and digital platform LaLigaSportsTV, by Spanish pay-television broadcaster Movistar, and by LaLiga’s international broadcast partners, who will be offered the feed.

Players from all LaLiga clubs will take part in the broadcast.

Óscar Mayo, director of business, marketing and international development at LaLiga, said: “LaLiga wants to support everyone who are in quarantine and at the same time, raise money to buy medical supplies to deal with COVID-19. We are very happy with the response we have received from all fronts; footballers, clubs, artists and sponsors have all joined together for this initiative. I am convinced that together we are going to create something very memorable.”

An esports event run by the league last week raised more than €142,000 ($155,000), which was donated towards Unicef’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

AFL pay cut dispute

The Australian Football League and its players are struggling to agree on a pay cut during the coronavirus shutdown.

The AFL has offered players 25 per cent of their pay. The players’ union wants at least half. Reuters reported that top players earn more than A$1m ($603,000) per season, with the average wage at about a third of that figure.

The AFL has already stood down 80 per cent of its staff and its top executives have taken a 20-per-cent pay cut.

The AFL stopped playing on Sunday after one round of the 2020 season, and does not expect to return until at least the end of May.

Some fans have criticised the players for their stance.

Reuters reports that a similar debate is happening in Australian rugby league’s NRL. Some top-earners in that league have offered to take a bigger share of the pay cuts than their lower-paid teammates. The league and players are aiming to agree a deal this week.

Tokyo postponement could cost Japan $6bn

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 could cost the Japanese economy JPY600bn to JPY700bn ($5.4bn-$6.3bn), according to economists surveyed by the Nikkei Asian Review.

Economic benefits from the Games were expected across a range of sectors, from construction to service industries, and particularly at the Games’ array of domestic sponsors. It was hoped the Games would help the economy recover from a dip prompted by a consumption tax increase last October.

Goldman Sachs earlier this month estimated a loss of JPY550bn in inbound and domestic consumption in 2020.

The Japanese government has spent more than JPY1tn on infrastructure projects related to the Games.

Nikkei quoted one Olympics sponsor who said: “We don’t know what a delay would mean in terms of cost, but we are not thinking about increasing our contribution at this moment.”

Nikkei reported that hotel operator Imperial Hotel last week lowered its profit forecast for the year to a figure 37-per-cent down on last year’s. Its occupancy rate in March fell below 50 per cent, compared to 80 per cent in March last year.

The report noted several logistical complications in hosting the Olympics in 2021. Some Tokyo venues are already taking bookings for other events next year, including convention centre Makuhari Messe, where the wrestling, taekwondo and fencing events are to be held, and Tokyo Big Sight, which is to be the Games press centre.

Meanwhile, the postponement has created a problem for property developers linked to the athletes village. The village was to be converted to luxury flats and sold off to buyers after the Games.

The development was to produce 4,000 apartments, in 23 tower blocks, with stunning city views, costing up to JPY170m, Japan Today reported.

Nearly 900 units have already been bought. Some buyers are expected to try to withdraw as a result of not being able to take up residence for another year. A second round of sales of the flats has been delayed from March until at least June.

ONE Championship fights on

Asian mixed martial arts promotion ONE Championship is continuing to run events behind closed doors during the pandemic.

ONE ran such an event on February 28 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and plans four more in the same venue, on April 17 and 24, and May 1 and 8.

The promotion is also launching a new events series, the ONE Infinity Series, featuring world champions, high-profile bouts and global celebrities, on May 29 in Manila. The first event includes ONE heavyweight world champion Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera defending his belt on home soil against Arjan ‘Singh’ Bhullar, ONE lightweight world champion Christian ‘The Warrior’ Lee in a title fight against Iuri Lapicus, and ‘The Underground King’ Eddie Alvarez facing Saygid ‘Dagi’ Guseyn Arslanaliev in a lightweight bout.

ONE is also this year launching its television series The Apprentice, ONE Championship Edition.

Other news

The third heavyweight world title boxing match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, scheduled for July 18, has been postponed, with a new date in October being considered, promoter Bob Arum has told ESPN.

The All England Club is holding an emergency meeting next week to decide whether to go ahead with this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament, scheduled to start June 29. UK newspaper The Guardian reported that “the mood is downbeat” and AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis has said rescheduling the event would be difficult.

Former Rugby Australia chief John O’Neill said World Rugby should use money generated by last year’s World Cup to support struggling rugby unions. Rugby Australia was struggling financially even before the coronavirus pandemic. O’Neill called on WR to be transparent about its financial situation and said the organisation “should not hesitate to help national unions who are financially stressed. Loans at cheap rates, repayable over four years, say, would be the easiest way. Otherwise, they won’t have a game. World Rugby is the lender of last resort.”

Chinese basketball’s CBA league will restart on May 1 at the earliest, according to local media reports. It had previously been reported that the league was considering an April 15 restart. That plan was not approved in time by China’s General Administration of Sports, so the start date has been moved back.

Clubs in Chinese football’s Super League started to return to training this week. The CSL was aiming to restart in mid-April, although a positive coronavirus test for player Marouane Fellaini may push that date back. Television coverage of Shanghai SIPG training showed players keeping their distance from each other as they performed drills and worked in the gym.

Japanese football’s J.League has extended its suspension from April 3 to May 9. The J2 league may start on May 2 and J3 on April 25.

The Tour of Japan UCI Asia Tour cycle race has been cancelled. It was due to take place on May 17-24.

The World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya on July 7-12 have been postponed. World Athletics is seeking new dates for the event.

The World Karate Federation has suspended its first-ever Olympic qualification tournament until further notice. It was due to take place in Paris in May or June.

Vietnamese football’s V.League 1 and 2 have been postponed until at least April 15.

Fund-raising and aid efforts

A host of sports stars, teams, organisations and businesses are making donations of cash and materials to help fight the pandemic, including:

  • Chinese sports media company DDMC, which has sent 100,000 surgical masks to the Spanish government. DDMC is the current LaLiga football media rights-holder in China.
  • Bangladeshi professional cricketers, 27 of whom are donating half their monthly salaries to government relief efforts.
  • British Formula 1 teams and manufacturers, who are working with the UK government to start producing ventilators and other medical devices to help treat coronavirus patients.