Sports: From Shanghai to Boston, sports hit by travel chaos

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Formula One to badminton, football to MotoGP - the travel chaos triggered by the cloud of volcanic ash which has grounded the bulk of Europe's airfleet has hit sporting events around the globe.

Next weekend's Japanese MotoGP is the biggest casualty of the transport chaos to date, being postponed on Monday until October 3, but this week's Champions League semi-finals featuring Barcelona are safe.

In China the massive cancellation of flights back to Europe left the Formula One caravan - cars, equipment and personnel - stranded in Shanghai after Sunday's Grand Prix won by Jenson Button.

Back in Europe Briton's Olympic cycling champion Bradley Wiggins was forced to miss the Amstel Gold one-day classic in the Netherlands.

Monday's Boston marathon meanwhile will go ahead without Abdellah Falil, an elite runner from Morocco who has had to ditch his attempt to run in the race for the first time.

The 34-year-old failed to make it across the Atlantic after being trapped in Paris for several days.

In Manchester, Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova became the first Russians ever to win a European Badminton title when they took the women's doubles on Sunday - but they may now be stranded in Britain for some time.

Not only has the Icelandic volcanic ash grounded them but their visa does not enable them to travel overland through countries other than the Uunited Kingdom.

Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg between Barcelona and Inter Milan and Lyon's trip to Bayern Munich 24 hours later will, however, go ahead as planned.

UEFA, European football's governing body, declared both games were secure, with holders Barca en route to Milan by bus.

Barcelona's squad were to have an overnight stopover in the French resort of Cannes Sunday before leaving Monday morning to complete the 1000km trip to the northern Italian city.

Munich-bound Lyon said that if their local airport did not reopen on Monday, they would adopt similar measures.

"We don't have the choice. There's not much we can do about the ash cloud," said team captain Cris.

"We have to travel by bus."

UEFA will discuss Thursday's Europa League semi-final fixtures on Monday.

Liverpool may fly out from Scotland or Ireland if English airports remain closed for their match at Atletico Madrid - Fulham, who are at Hamburg, are considering travelling by rail.

A UEFA spokesman told AFP: "The Champions League semi-finals will be held as scheduled because the teams who are travelling have been able to make alternative travel arrangements.

"As regards the Europa League, we will have a review of the situation on Monday morning."

Asked if Thursday's matches could be under threat, he did not rule out postponements.

"Obviously it has to be a sensible decision to see if it's feasible or not, but that is exactly what our meeting is for tomorrow," he added.

In Japan, Mobilityland Corporation, the operator of the TwinRing Motegi race circuit north of Tokyo, said the flight chaos had forced the Japanese MotoGP race to be pushed back from this Sunday.

"Due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption causing flight cancellations by aviation operators, we have decided to postpone the MotoGP scheduled for this weekend," company president Hiroshi Oshima said in a statement.

"Although the situation is beyond our control, we sincerely apologise to fans who have been eagerly waiting for the world's top-level race."

The new date of October 3 means the Japanese Grand Prix will be sandwiched between races at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain and one in Malaysia.

Another certain casualty is the Moroccan Golf Classic, which was to have been played at the Pullman Magadan Royal Gold and Spa course starting Thursday.

Efforts are being made to reschedule the tournament later in the season.

About 30 European countries have closed or restricted their airspace due to safety fears presented by the dust cloud from last Wednesday's eruption by the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland.

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