Sir Alex Ferguson released his second autobiography this week and the press were eager to find out what he really thought of Beckham, Keane, Wenger, Rooney etc at the launch event in London. Press conferences like this tend to have a fairly standard format, where either a moderator invites journalists by name to ask questions, or the TV reporters kick things off and it follows from there.
But they were all taken by surprise when Ferguson walked in nearly ten minutes early and as things were still settling down, a Chinese journo asked for Ferguson’s views about Chinese football and also why he had allegedly been rude to a female reporter in the past (details of this were not clear). Fergie laughed off the second part, before answering:
Japan is having a very, very good time on the Olympic stage right now. Firstly, Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics. They had always been the favorite, but had to allay growing fears that Fukushima’s ongoing nuclear nightmare would not have any long-lasting effects for the country (though, in truth, they may have been helped more by a combination of Spain’s dreadful employment record and Turkey’s heavy-handed government). It also means Asia will host back-to-back Olympic Games, following Pyeongchang in 2018.
Secondly, wrestling has been reinstated into the Olympic schedule. Much has changed since February when wrestling looked set to lose out, but Japan will benefit hugely from this. Not only do they sit fourth in the all-time medal table for Olympic wrestling (third if you take out the now-defunct Soviet team), but they won four gold medals in London last year, a total matched only by Russia.
Citizenship is always an issue in China, or more specifically, changing your citizenship. For one thing, you tend to need a lot of money. Chinese movie stars have taken up residence in other countries and faced accusations of being a traitor, but crossing borders in the sports world can be even more controversial.
In recent years, Japan and China have had a, shall we say, “strained” relationship, but the Japanese may have just pulled one over their rivals in the most unlikeliest of places – table tennis, currently China’s most watched sport.
China has won 24 of a possible 28 gold medals in Olympic ping pong history, adding another 15 silver and 8 bronze. Japan, in contrast, has won a solitary silver medal in seven attempts since the sport was first included in the Olympics in 1988.
OK so this Manchester United thing is getting a little silly now. The club announced today that they have signed a three-year deal with Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai, who become (drum roll please) United’s first official paint partner. Yes, paint.
I think this quote from Man Utd commercial director Richard Arnold says it all: “Kansai is the perfect company to partner with Manchester United.”
China and Japan may be duking it out for territorial bragging rights in the East China Sea, but on the tennis court it is very much advantage China.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced this week that, from 2014, a new tournament in Wuhan will replace the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, which will celebrate a bittersweet 30th – and last – anniversary this year.
This is shaping up to be a huge tournament, with at least seven of the year-end ranked top 10 players due to appear in Li Na’s hometown, competing for more than $2 million in prize money.