6 Mar 2021

Today's sports news: What you need to know

7:03 am on 6 March 2021

Latest - Portugal will fill a slot left vacant by Vietnam and be the third race of the Formula One season on May 2.

Lewis Hamilton GBR, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The race will again be held at the Algarve circuit near Portimao that made its debut last October on a calendar reduced to 17 races as a result of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That was the first Portuguese Grand Prix in 25 years.

Formula One is planning a record 23 races this year, with the season starting on March 28 in Bahrain.

Last year's Portuguese race weekend was attended by 27,000 spectators.


Paris to host rescheduled Tokyo Olympic boxing qualifier

The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics European boxing qualifier will be held in Paris from June 4-8, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) has said.

Paris is replacing London, where the event began last March before being suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis. The BTF decided to move the event from London in January following a surge of cases in the country.

The BTF said that Paris had been selected "as part of its initial commitment to organise its events in the host countries of recent or upcoming Olympic Games, and because of the opportunity to continue to benefit from its already established relationship with the Local Organising Committee, which was originally entrusted to organise the now-cancelled final world qualifier."

The BTF said last month that the world Olympic boxing qualifier, which was due to take place in Paris in June, had been cancelled.

It insisted, however, that changes to the qualification system ensured athletes from all regions had an equal chance to qualify for the Games.


Celebratory hugs outlawed after races by UCI

Riders will be banned from celebratory hugs with their team mates after races as part of new COVID-19 protocols introduced this season by cycling's governing body the UCI.

The ruling appears to be more symbolic than anything else as riders exist in team bubbles and spend the day riding in close proximity in the peloton.

"As a doctor, I can say that the risk of becoming infected by hugging is not particularly high," the UCI's medical chief Xavier Bigard, said at a UCI health and safety seminar.

"However, it is all about the message we want to send to the world, and more specifically to cycling fans. Namely that it is forbidden to touch other people if we want to stop the virus."

"There is already a ban for riders to hug and touch each other on the podium. Common sense tells us that it is therefore wise not to display the same behaviour after the finish."


IFAB makes further changes to handball rules

Football's rulemaker IFAB has changed the laws of the game so that accidental handballs leading to a team mate scoring will no longer be penalised.

It was previously the case that a handball would be given if the ball touched a player's or a team mate's hand or arm immediately before a goal was scored or a goalscoring opportunity was created.

While goals scored directly from the arm or hand or immediately after will continue to be ruled out, even if accidental, it will no longer be the case that goals will be chalked off if the ball inadvertently touches a team mate's hand earlier in the buildup.

"Accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence," IFAB said in a statement following their Annual General Meeting.

The tweak to the handball law will become effective on July 1, although competitions will retain the flexibility to introduce changes prior to that date.

One complicated area of the handball law is when a player is deemed to have used his arm/hand to make the body "unnaturally bigger" such as when blocking a shot or cross.

Not every touch of a player's arm/hand will be an offence, and it was confirmed in the meeting that referees should continue to use their judgment in determining the validity of the hand/arm's position in relation to the player's movement in a given situation.

The reference to an automatic handball offence being given if the ball strikes a player's arm when raised above his shoulder has been removed.

IFAB also said the concussion substitute trials are expected to continue until 2022 and that the option of allowing five substitutes would remain under review because of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The body is continuing to review the offside law, looking at suggestions, such as one from FIFA head of football development Arsene Wenger, for a switch that would give more benefit to the attacking player than the current law.

IFAB is also planning to test technology that would allow for 'semi-automatic' decisions on offside to limit the need for long waits for VAR evaluation.

Another area of focus is on 'VAR Light', a way of introducing some element of video reviews to venues and competitions where there is not the full camera coverage of top league games.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino rejected critics who said VAR was removing spontaneity and joy from the game by saying the waiting for decisions brought its own element of excitement and that the system was delivering more "justice".