OLYMPICS

The new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee stopped short of saying there would be no foreign fans at this year’s games, but she certainly hinted at it Wednesday after online talks with IOC President Thomas Bach and others.

The Japanese newspaper Mainichi reported Wednesday that the decision had already been made to exclude foreign fans. It cited only unnamed sources “involved in the discussions.”

“If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

The newspaper report came just before Hashimoto’s meeting with Bach. She said a decision on foreign fans will come by the end of the month, and she wants one by March 25, when the torch relay begins from northeastern Japan.

The Olympics are scheduled to open on July 23.

“In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators,” the Mainichi newspaper said, citing an unnamed government official.

Hashimoto was asked after the meeting how Japan could even consider letting in thousands of overseas fans, given how unpopular the idea is at home where up to 80% want the Olympics canceled or postponed again. Japan has attributed about 8,000 deaths to COVID-19, but has controlled it much better than most countries.

TENNIS

ATP CHANGES: The men’s professional tennis tour is increasing prize money at smaller tournaments that had 50% cuts during the coronavirus pandemic and is changing its “frozen” rankings, with the aim of restoring the traditional 52-week system by August 2022.

The ATP’s announcement Wednesday also said some players will be allowed to bring more than two team members to tournaments on a first-come, first-served basis, easing a restriction put in place last year because of COVID-19.

Until Wimbledon begins in June, payouts to players will be brought back to 80% of pre-pandemic levels at ATP 250 tournaments and 60% at ATP 500 tournaments. That increase of up to $5.2 million mostly will be funded by taking money out of a bonus pool that is distributed to the top dozen players at season’s end.

Tweaks to the way the ATP rankings are calculated will allow players to count either 50% of points earned at events from March-August 2019 that were not held in 2020 because of the sport’s pandemic hiatus or 100% of points at those events in 2021, whichever is better. The plan is to have the regular system – where full points are accrued and then drop off a player’s standing after 52 weeks – begin this August, with the rankings completely back to normal a year later.

QATAR OPEN: Garbine Muguruza outlasted third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in a close second-round match at Doha, and top-seeded Elina Svitolina eased into the quarterfinals.

Muguruza won 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 after she served for the match at 6-5 in the second set before Sabalenka broke her serve and won the following tiebreaker.

The 16th-ranked Spanish player will face Maria Sakkari of Greece in the quarterfinals. Sakkari won 6-2, 6-2 against Madison Keys in what was the American’s second match since returning to the tour after missing the Australian Open with the coronavirus.

Svitolina cruised through her match against Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-2. Svitolina was playing for the first time since a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open on Feb. 15.

ABN AMRO: Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev’s 12 aces weren’t enough as the Australian Open runner-up was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by Dusan Lajovic in the first round at Rotterdam, Netherlands.

It wasn’t the day’s only upset was third-seeded Alexander Zverev also lost.

Medvedev had 25 unforced errors against Lajovic’s 12, along with eight double faults, and he broke his racket in frustration. The third-ranked Russian last played Feb. 21 in his straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.

The 30-year-old Serbian player faces Borna Coric of Croatia in the second round.

Alexander Bublik beat Zverev 7-5, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Tommy Paul.

LAW

WINSLOW SENTENCED: Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offenses against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018.

The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak.

“In the future, I do plan to tell my story,” said the former Cleveland Browns star, once the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described in “two words and that is a sexual predator.” The judge said he preyed on women who were especially vulnerable, befriending a homeless woman, picking up a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and attacking a teen after she had passed out at a party.

Bowman called them “brazen” crimes. He noted that Winslow continued to prey on women even after his first arrest. He performed a lewd act in front of a 77-year-old woman at a gym while hiding his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet with a towel. He also exposed himself during that time to a 57-year-old neighbor who was gardening.

AUTO RACING

FORMULA ONE: The Aston Martin team presented its new Formula One car on Wednesday, revealing a slick livery of British racing green as it returns to the series for the first time since 1960.

Aston Martin left after failing to score any points that year and returns to the grid with high hopes after signing four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. He has won 53 F1 races but endured a dismal final year with Ferrari in 2020 during which he secured just one podium finish.

“I love the history of motor racing and Aston Martin is one of the great names of the past, so it is fun to be part of their return,” Vettel said at the team’s online launch on Wednesday. “I have not driven the car yet, obviously, but I think it looks great. I am really looking forward to getting it out on the track.”

He will race alongside Canadian driver Lance Stroll, whose father Lawrence Stroll owns the team after completing a nearly $1 billion takeover last April.

The Silverstone-based team was then rebranded from Racing Point to Aston Martin, and Sergio Perez — who drove consistently well and won one race last season — was replaced by the 33-year-old Vettel.

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