Daily Briefing

Sport shorts: Michael Jordan pays emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and promoters say Fury vs. Joshua ‘will happen’

Ten things from the world of sport on Tuesday 25 February

1. Jordan: when Kobe died, a piece of me died

NBA legend Michael Jordan was among the speakers who paid tribute to Kobe Bryant at a memorial service in Los Angeles yesterday. 

LA Lakers icon Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash last month in California. 

Speaking at The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at the Staples Center in LA, Jordan broke down in tears and said: “He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be. And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.

“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. And as I look [around] this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died, or else you wouldn’t be here. Those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from. 

“I promise you from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.”

2. Three months to save Olympics

International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has told the Associated Press that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games could be cancelled if the coronavirus outbreak is not contained by the end of May. 

The Olympics start on 24 July and Pound said: “You could certainly go to two months out if you had to. A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels, the media folks will be in there building their studios.”

3. Coronavirus threat to Six Nations

The 2020 Six Nations rugby championship could be “thrown into turmoil” by the spread of coronavirus in Italy. Seven people have died from the virus in Italy in recent days as the country struggles to contain its spread.

The Italians are due to play Ireland in Dublin on 7 March and according to Irish broadcaster RTE Six Nations organisers are “closely monitoring” the situation. 

In a statement, the tournament organisers said they are “in regular contact with the FIR [Italian union] and all other unions and federations as well as the relevant local authorities and health organisations”.

Could coronavirus close down the Six Nations? 

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4. Farah under scrutiny

Fresh questions are being asked about Mo Farah’s relationship with his banned former coach Alberto Salazar, after a documentary found that the runner changed his account of receiving performance-enhancing injections. 

BBC Panorama last night revealed that the four-time Olympic medalist repeatedly denied receiving an injection of a controversial supplement ahead of the 2014 London Marathon, before later changing his story.

Mo Farah injection allegations: what is the reaction?

5. Wilder blames costume and wants Fury rematch

Deontay Wilder has blamed the weight of his ring-walk costume for his defeat to Tyson Fury last weekend. 

Wilder, who was stopped in the seventh round of the WBC title fight in Las Vegas, said: “My uniform was way too heavy for me. I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight.” 

The 34-year-old intends to trigger a rematch clause for a third fight against Fury. 

Wilder blames costume for loss to Fury - how boxing fans reacted to the excuse

Deontay Wilder wore an elaborate costume ahead of his defeat against Tyson Fury

Al Bello/Getty Images

6. ‘Fight of the century’ will happen

The promoters of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are both keen to see the British boxing stars go head-to-head to decide who is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. 

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told Sky Sports that both parties would be “clowns” and “idiots” if they did not make the fight happen. “Everybody wants this fight… there are some hurdles to overcome on the broadcasting, but nothing too much,” said Hearn. “I promise you this fight will happen.” 

Speaking to the BBC Fury’s promoter Frank Warren added: “Of course we want to see the fight. We’ve been trying to make it for two years.”

7. Hamilton in no rush over new deal

Sky Sports reports that Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is in “no rush” to sign a new deal with Mercedes.

Hamilton’s contract with the Silver Arrows expires at the end of the season but the six-time world champion is confident ahead of talks. 

He said: “I continue to feel great within the family. I don’t know when we’re going to sit down and talk and I don’t see a particular rush. I think our goals are aligned so I’m sure we’ll sit down.”

F1 second pre-season test: driver schedules, session times and TV coverage 

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8. Mako Vunipola set to miss Wales clash

England head coach Eddie Jones says prop Mako Vunipola is unlikely to return to the squad for the Six Nations clash against Wales on 7 March. However, winger Anthony Watson could be available. 

Vunipola missed Sunday’s win against Ireland after travelling to Tonga for personal reasons and Jones said: “Mako probably won’t be back for Wales. Anthony’s got to do a running session and if he gets through that we’ll get him into camp.”

9. New heading guidelines

Children aged 11 and under will no longer be trained to head the ball by football associations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The new guidelines will also usher in heading restrictions for all age groups under-18, with limits on how much heading older children should do.

Why are children being banned from heading footballs?

10. Back pages: Sane wins it for Liverpool 

Liverpool’s relentless march towards the Premier League title continued last night with a 3-2 win over West Ham United. 

Sadio Mane scored the winner ten minutes from time and the Daily Mirror hails his performance with a clever “Ee-aye Sadio” headline. 

The Daily Telegraph goes with “Mane of the moment” and says that Liverpool are now just four wins away from clinching the title.

Today’s back pages

‘Mane of the moment’ sends Liverpool 22 points clear

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