Daily Briefing

Today’s back pages: French Open farce creates ‘confusion and anger’ and Champions League could be played on weekend

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 18 March

French farce

The news that the French Open has been rescheduled for September is reported on the back pages of many of the papers. 

The tournament becomes the first tennis major to fall victim to coronavirus although Wimbledon is also expected to be affected by the pandemic. 

Roland Garros was supposed to host the world’s finest from 24 May to 7 June but it will now start on 20 September, making it the last of the year’s majors. 

However, The Guardian reports that the decision by the French tennis federation to reschedule the clay-court event has “created confusion and anger across the game”. 

The reason, as the Daily Express explains, is that the new dates not only come just a week after the conclusion of the US Open but they also clash with the Laver Cup. 

This popular and established exhibition team competition is a favourite for some of the top stars, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and the Guardian says the French Open could be boycotted by many players.

Nadal is a 12-time French Open champion and the clash with the Laver Cup puts the Spaniard in an “more obviously embarrassing position”. 

Not only is he a key figure for Team Europe in the Laver Cup but he’s also the “king of Roland Garros”. The Guardian says without Nadal, the French Open is “seriously diminished”.

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Something for the weekend?

Like their rivals, i Sport reports on the decision to postpone this summer’s European Championships to 2021. But the paper also leads on its back page with what it claims is an exclusive: namely, that Champions League matches could be moved to the weekend in order to complete the tournament this season. 

The paper says Uefa has previously sought to play Champions League matches on primetime weekend slots, but the attempts “have been blocked by the major European leagues”, such as the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, who have jealously guarded this lucrative time slot for their domestic fixtures. 

Following yesterday’s video conference, a working group composed of club, league and Uefa representatives has been established to find a solution to finishing the domestic leagues, Champions League and Europa League.

i Sport says the football calendar will be “meticulously analysed and a raft of possible solutions devised and debated”.

Euro 2020 postponed: Uefa president says ‘health of fans and players is the priority’

Olympics in peril

The Times claims that contrary to the bullish statements emanating from Japan in recent days that the Olympic Games will go ahead as planned, senior figures in British sport are now “90% certain” that they won’t escape unscathed from the coronavirus chaos that has ravaged the rest of the sporting calendar. 

The Games are due to start in Tokyo on 24 July and yesterday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) conducted a video conference with the international federations and “insisted that it was still its intention for the Games to go ahead despite the coronavirus crisis”. 

But despite the optimistic declaration, in private the IOC is increasingly fearful that the Games will be delayed or even cancelled. 

The Times says that the IOC has “until 60 days before the start of competition”, which would be 26 May, to delay Tokyo 2020.

Today’s sport headlines

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