In Brief

Is the Premier League restart a pipe dream?

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 29 April

Prem restart fears 

The Sun leads on its back page with the declaration from Fifa’s top doctor Michel d’Hooghe that football should forget about any resumption in the coming months and concentrate on starting afresh in September. 

His comments will be an embarrassment for the British government who apparently have been quietly supportive of the idea of restarting the Premier League in order to lift the nation’s spirits.

But The Daily Telegraph says that “many Premier League players are fearful of the health risks of games behind closed doors”, and believe they are being rushed back for the wrong reasons. 

That view is shared by some Premier League executives, says the Telegraph, which claims there is “pressure from the government as politicians seek to lift morale amid mounting tension over lockdown measures”.

With the government facing growing criticism about the lack of clarity over its lockdown measures, several clubs and Premier League officials suspect that government officials “will use the resumption of top-flight football as a tool to deflect criticism”. 

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Restart revolt

The Times says there is a revolt brewing over “Project Restart”, not just because of fears over player safety but also strong opposition in some quarters to the idea of matches being played at neutral grounds. 

That is said to be a cornerstone of the project, in order to minimise the health risks, but many clubs argue that the “sporting integrity of the competition could be undermined by teams losing home advantage”.

And if there weren’t enough problems already, the Daily Star’s back page headline - “Docs kick off over testing” - covers a story that could cause more controversy for football and the government. 

According to the paper the Premier League will conduct (and pay for) 1,000 coronavirus tests every week in order to reassure players remain safe when the season resumes. 

But club doctors are “voicing serious ethical concerns about the morality of testing players twice-a-week if the NHS are still in short supply”.  

Uncertain future for the Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled and not delayed for a second time if the coronavirus crisis is still with us in 2021. 

The Times says a growing number of medical experts believe that it will be impossible to stage the Olympics if no vaccine for coronavirus has been introduced. 

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic committee, has made it clear that the summer of 2021 is make or break time for the Games, and that having already been moved from 2020 to next year there will be no repeat. 

But the prognosis isn’t good, reports the Times, quoting Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious disease at Kobe University. 

“I am very pessimistic about holding the Games next summer,” he said “Unless you hold the Games in a totally different structure such as [with] no audience or a very limited participation.”

Today’s sport headlines

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