Today’s sports news: What you need to know
Nicki Nicol has been confirmed as the replacement for outgoing New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith.
Nicol came into the role after four years at New Zealand Rugby, where she held several leading roles including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and, most recently, Chief Transformation Officer.
During her time at NZR, the qualified Chartered Accountant led the implementation of their Respect & Responsibility Review and the financial response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Smith was leaving the position after 11 years at the head of the NZOC.
Nicol would start in the new role in March.
Olympic champ suffering “severe” Covid symptoms
Olympic tennis champion Belinda Bencic says she has tested positive for COVID-19 after her trip to Abu Dhabi and has “severe symptoms”, a day after Rafael Nadal announced he had also tested positive.
Both players had travelled to Abu Dhabi to play in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event last week. Nadal also said he was having some “unpleasant moments” after testing positive upon his return to Spain.
“Unfortunately and even though I am fully vaccinated, I recently tested positive for COVID-19,” Bencic said on Twitter.
“I am currently isolating and taking all precautionary (measures) to get through this as best as possible as I am experiencing quite severe symptoms (fever, aches, chills).
“While the timing is not ideal – as I was in the final stages of my preparations for the Australian Open swing – I will make my way to Australia as soon as I am cleared and past the isolation period.”
Bencic lost to Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who had replaced U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu after the latter tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from the event.
The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17.
Lloyd retires from commentary a month after Rafiq testimony and apology
Cricket commentator David Lloyd announced his retirement from Sky Sports UK, a month after he was named by Azeem Rafiq in his testimony about a culture of widespread racism at his county club Yorkshire.
Lloyd, a former England player and coach, has been behind the microphone with Sky Cricket for 22 years.
He apologised last month when Rafiq said the 74-year-old was a “closet racist” after he made disparaging comments about Asian cricketers in 2020. Sky had said they would be investigating Lloyd’s comments.
“With the passing of Bob Willis and after the decision to move on by my good friends David Gower, Ian Botham and more recently Michael Holding, the commentary box feels a little emptier,” Lloyd said in a statement.
“And so I feel it is time for me to do the same and move on to the next chapter… I’m done now with Sweet Caroline but in the words of Elton John, I’m still standing!”
Lloyd played nine tests and eight one-day internationals for England between 1973 and 1980, and he coached the team from 1996 to 1999.
NHL brings holiday break forward; Blue Jackets, Canadiens shut down
The National Hockey League (NHL) and its players’ union (NHLPA) have agreed to postpone five more games amid rising COVID-19 cases at teams and bring the holiday break forward to begin after Wednesday’s slate of games.
With the latest postponements taking the total to 49 games, the NHL and NHLPA said in Monday’s statement that the regular season would resume on Dec. 27.
The league was originally set to shut down from Saturday to Monday for Christmas.
Under the revised schedule, Dec. 22-25 will be off-days for all purposes, including travel, and players will report back to their teams on Dec. 26 for testing, travel and practice.
Earlier on Monday, the league shut down the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens at least through Dec. 26, with nine of the league’s 32 teams now paused.
The move to shut the teams down comes a day after the NHL said cross-border games would be postponed through the holiday break due to the concern about travel and “the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions”.
South Korea short track champion suspended for 2 months, Beijing appearance in doubt
South Korea’s double Olympic short track gold medallist Shim Suk-hee has been suspended for two months over remarks she made about coaches and teammates, which may bar her from competing at the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Korea Skating Union said.
A KSU spokesperson said Shim could appeal with the Korea Sport & Olympic Committee or seek a court injunction to find a way to compete in Beijing.
The Korea Sport & Olympic Committee’s disciplinary meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14, according to the KSU official.
Shim and her agency were not immediately available for comment.
The disciplinary committee’s decision comes after the KSU concluded a separate probe into race-fixing allegations against Shim earlier this month.
In that probe, investigators said they could not find any evidence of Shim’s wrongdoing and there was no concrete evidence that she had intended to take down a team mate during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games.
In October, Shim was excluded from training with the national team amid a probe into text messages exchanged between her and a coach during the 2018 Games that she might have tried to create a “female Steven Bradbury” if things were not going her way.
Australian Bradbury won gold in the men’s 1,000m at the 2002 Winter Olympics after all the other competitors crashed at the last turn.
The Winter Olympics run from Feb. 4-20.