Sporting community digs deep for tsunami victims

Associated Press

Sydney, January 3:

Australian cricket fans have already pitched $95,800 into the relief fund for the tsunami disaster and millions more dollars are expected to follow.

Fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the first two days of the third Test between Australia and Pakistan had exceeded the expectations of organisers who wanted to raise $77,500 in five days. With three days remaining, the SCG administrators on Monday revised the target to $116,200. Australian professional golfer Peter O’Malley donated $7,750, including his prize money from a golf chipping competition during an interval in the match.

The ICC is hoping to raise millions of dollars for World Vision’s disaster relief appeal in two charity matches featuring a World XI against an Asian XI.

Tickets for the first match, a one-dayer in Melbourne, Australia on January 10, go on sale on Tuesday. Cricket Australia is confident the sport’s biggest stars — including Australia’s Shane Warne and West Indies batsman Brian Lara — will attract an 80,000 sellout crowd.

Tommy Hill, an import-export clerk living in Sydney, was among more than 70,000 people who attended the first two days of the Australia-Pakistan match.

America’s pro gridiron league teams joined Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and other sports figures around the world in assisting the disaster relief mission for the tsunami-earthquake catastrophe. The National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens collected $51,475 from fans at their game against the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday, with the team adding another $25,000. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, Wimbledon champion Sharapova beat four-time major winner Williams in an exhibition match that began with a 30-second tribute to victims of the deadly waves. After the match the players auctioned their rackets for about $2,500 each. The Chennai Open in India, among the ATP Tour season openers, is proceeding despite several thousand dead along the coastline. Organisers believe cancelling the event would hurt morale in the area. The ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, is contributing the $25,000 tournament fee to UNICEF’s emergency relief fund.

Three players —Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman, Germany’s Rainer Schuettler and India’s Mahesh Bhupathi — have pledged prize money from the Chennai Open.