Ash crisis hits sport

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The European sporting calendar has been thrown into chaos due to widespread travel disruption caused by a volcanic ash cloud enveloping the continent.

The majority of Europe's airspace has been closed following an eruption in Iceland in mid–April 2010, causing the cancellation of a number of events and leaving many competitors unable to travel to those which did proceed. On Monday 19 April, the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) confirmed that the MotoGP World Championship race in Japan on Sunday 25 April had become the latest sporting event to be called off due to the disruption. The race, the second round of the series, had been planned for the Motegi circuitA statement from the FIM read: "The recent volcano eruption in Iceland has resulted in an ash cloud cover infiltration. Air traffic space over Europe has stopped all international travel in and out of Europe. This case of 'force majeure' has obliged the Grand Prix Permanent Bureau composed of the FIM President Vito Ippolito and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, with the agreement of the Grand Prix Promoter, Mobilityland Corporation, to postpone the Grand Prix of Japan planned on 25 April 2010. The Grand Prix Permanent Bureau proposed equally to the FIM to reschedule the Grand Prix of Japan on 3 October 2010. "Despite the travel problems, other prime sporting fixtures due to take place during the week of 19 April look likely to go ahead. UEFA confirmed that the Champions League semi–finals on Tuesday (20 April) and Wednesday (21 April) would go ahead as planned, and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone offered similar assurances over the Spanish Grand Prix on 9 May. FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais have been forced to change their travel arrangements and journey by coach for their respective Champions League first legs against Inter Milan on Tuesday and Bayern München on Wednesday. "The two UEFA Champions League semi–final first legs will go ahead as scheduled this week despite the current restrictions on European air travel, " read a statement on UEFA's website, which also revealed a decision would be taken "in the coming days" about whether Thursday's two Europa League semi–finals. Formula One boss Ecclestone has no doubts the Spanish Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled despite teams fearing their preparations could be hampered. Concerns were spreading throughout the paddock at F1's Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday that there could be problems getting cars and equipment back. Should the disruptions continue for the rest of the week, it could mean some teams will struggle to get their cars ready for the race in Barcelona. However, when asked whether the grand prix could potentially be postponed, Ecclestone said: "No. Not at all. There are no problems with the race. "However, the final leg of the FINA (World Swimming Federation) Diving World Series, due to be staged in Sheffield during the week of 19 April 2010, has been rearranged to take place in Veracruz, Mexico, following the conclusion of the second leg there. The Moroccan Golf Classic has been postponed and a scheduled MotoGP race in Motegi, Japan, is expected to also fall victim. In golf, the European Challenge Tour has been forced to delay its stop–off in Morocco, due to begin on Wednesday (21 April) at the Pullman Mazagan Royal Golf and Spa, although the body does hope to reschedule the tournament later in the year. The Ballantine's Championship in Korea on the full PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) European Tour is unlikely to be affected, though, with the majority of players already in Asia after the Volvo (sponsor) China Open. About The Sport Briefing This story has been reproduced with the kind permission of The Sport Briefing. The Sport Briefing is published by PA Sport and can be found at: www. thesportbriefing. comSubscribers to Major Events International can take advantage ofexcellent discounted rates for The Sport Briefing. Sign up now to receive a 20% discount on your annual licence for TheSport Briefing. Special rates are also available for company–widesubscriptions. Subscribers receive a daily digest or up to 30 stories from across every sector of the global sports industry, access to the 24–sevenwww. thesportbriefing. com website and a hard copy of the quarterlymagazine. For more information, email info@thesportbriefing. com or call +(0) 44 207 963 7888.

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