The International Olympic Committee moved the marathon and race walking events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to Sapporo, 800 kilometres north of the capital, due to concerns over the threat to athletes, spectators and officials of high temperatures at games time. Average temperatures in Sapporo during the summer games period - 24 July to 9 August - are "as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the day than in Tokyo," the IOC said.
ASO, the owner of the Tour de France, is to organise a new category 2.1 cycling stage race in Saudi Arabia. The five-day Saudi Tour will take place from February 4 to 8, 2020 with the route centred around the capital Riyadh. Earlier this year, ASO moved motor racing’s Dakar Rally to the Kingdom in a five-year deal from 2020, after 11 years in South America.
English soccer’s top-tier Premier League finally recruited a chief executive, appointing David Pemsel from the Guardian Media Group, the prominent UK newspaper publisher. Richard Scudamore stepped down as executive chairman in November 2018 and, at the end of the year, Susanne Dinnage, the global president of media giant Discovery’s Animal Planet, went back on a decision to become the new chief. Tim Davie also rejected the position, electing instead to stay on as chief executive of BBC Studios, the production and distribution arm of the public-service broadcaster.
Pay-TV giant Sky and streaming service Spark Sport continued their battle for sports rights supremacy, landing major contracts, as well as significant blows on each other. Sky bounced back from the loss of its contract with New Zealand Cricket to Spark for the 2020 to 2026 period, by extending deals to show major International Cricket Council events to 2023 and the games of the All Blacks, the country’s iconic national rugby union team, to 2025. Spark, which showed this year’s Rugby World Cup, later picked up digital content ICC rights to 2023.
Eurosport, the pan-European sports network, acquired Tokyo 2020 Olympics rights from pay-television operator Canal Plus. Eurosport’s €1.3-billion ($1.45-billion) deal with the International Olympic Committee covering rights to four games to 2024 did not, in the case of the 2018 winter Olympics and 2020 Olympics, include France, as there was already an agreement in place with public-service broadcaster France Télévisions. Canal Plus acquired non-exclusive rights to the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 games from France Télévisions but, in a cost-saving measure, sold the latter on to Eurosport.
Major League Baseball’s World Series ended as the third least-viewed on record in USA despite going a full seven games. National network Fox’s live coverage of the Washington Nationals’ 4-3 defeat of the Houston Astros averaged 13.91 million viewers, despite a bumper 23 million audience for game seven as the Nationals clinched their first world title.
The lowest-rated World Series is the San Francisco Giants’ four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in 2012, which drew an average of 12.64 million viewers.
Fifa awarded China hosting rights to the inaugural version of the revamped Fifa Club World Cup in 2021. The CWC is presently contested by just seven teams, but will expand to 24 and move from December to June and July in 2021, taking the place of the Confederations Cup, a national teams competition that acted as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup. Qatar is hosting the last two editions of the CWC in its current form.
Cape Town was awarded hosting rights to the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens. It will be the eighth edition of the quadrennial showpiece sevens event, and the first to be held on the African continent. Matches will be played at the 55,000-capacity Cape Town Stadium, which already hosts an annual leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. South Africa was one of 11 countries to express an interest in the tournament, along with Argentina, Cayman Islands, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Qatar, Scotland and Tunisia.
A merger of Belgium’s Pro League and the Netherlands Eredivise has been discussed by the two leagues, the respective countries’ soccer associations and leading clubs. The proposed BeNeLiga would comprise 10 Dutch clubs and eight from Belgium. A cross-border league would need the approval of Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, before it can be formed.
The first rights contract for the Uefa European Championships in 2024 was signed off in the host country Germany with telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom. It was a surprise outcome with DT having displaced long-term rights-holders ARD and ZDF, the public-service broadcasters, albeit it is expected to enter sub-licensing talks with the pair as well as commercial networks for Germany’s games and other top matches.