Hello and welcome to this week’s column, which you’ll hopefully be reading whilst watching the first night of the Racing League!

This subject has been very much done to death, but I’d love to see it succeed, and perhaps be reformed in future – who’s to say that we couldn’t have regional teams to allow for a wider amount of trainers to be involved (for all that there are already 12 teams there!)

In case you’re still somehow undecided, my case for it is here:

And for balance, my learned editor David Stewart makes the case against here:

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get onto another subject everyone loves to talk about…

Back To School 2: Vaccine Passports

Another Thursday, another column, another story about – you guessed it – vaccine passports.

The plans on this appear to change with each and every day, so it’s possible that by the time you’ve read this something new may have been brief, but the latest plan according to the press is for the Government to require double vaccination as a condition to enter lecture theatres and halls of residence.

This is a very direct measure clearly aimed at improving takeup of the vaccine amongst 18–25-year-olds, and then giving members of said age group reason to come back for a second jab before the winter.

Henry Zeffman, Steven Swinford, and Martyn Ziegler of The Times reported on Monday that Johnson was ‘raging’ at low take up numbers. He may well be upset at lower take up – a large amount of younger people are unfortunately being admitted to hospital, and they are mixing much more freely, but this plan has several holes in it.

Many of the problems were pointed out by Labour’s Open Labour’s co-chair Tessa Milligan, in an insightful thread which I am using here with her kind permission.

Firstly, a large case load in young people is having two knock on effects. The first is that hundreds of thousands of people are being prevented from having their first dose by 28 days. To add to that, the people who live with them (and are likely to be of the same age group) will then have* to isolate for upto 10 days, meaning that many may miss vaccine appointments they had scheduled – and rebooking is difficult for those who have certain jobs, especially with fixed shift patterns.

With cases still around the 27,000 mark and upwards despite a fall in recent days – and hundreds of thousands of self-isolation alerts being sent via the NHS app – it’s no surprise that fewer young people have been able to get a first dose.

That situation will take time to be resolved, but vaccine enthusiasm remains high amongst young people and hopefully plenty will get a dose when offered.

If the Government wishes to improve take up amongst those likely to head to university soon, then they could do much worse than follow these steps – again from Tessa Milligan, but ones that I whole heartedly agree with:

– Remove the 8-week rule so that young people stop getting turned away from walk-in clinics (supply allowing)

– Launch a campaign to get young people vaccinated (seeing as, despite random briefings to newspapers which hardly any young people read about considering things like sponsored jab ads on tinder, their vaccination campaign actually dropped off when the rollout reached young people)

– Have clear public health messaging – in multiple languages – on why young people need to get jabbed (with a direct advertisement to young people, using social media and other areas)

– Have a more honest approach about the impact of COVID on young people, instead of suggesting it’s like flu (Javid) and telling people stop living in fear (Sunak)

– Start plans for pop up vaccine walk-in clinics in (or very close to) university and college campuses throughout September, October and November.

Passport How-To

In case you don’t know how to get a vaccine passport, here’s a handy guide to putting it on your phone:



And managing to put it on your iPhone wallet, thanks to the super Charlotte Henry of MacObserver: https://www.macobserver.com/tips/england-nhs-app-update-allows-covid-pass-added-apple-wallet/

The Tour For Gold

As a passionate cycling fan, I was delighted to see so many people enjoying the men’s and women’s road events over the past few days. Richard Carapaz and Anna Kiesenhofer’s performances were fantastic and deeply deserving of gold medals for Ecuador and Austria, and both races provided a rich tapestry of stories for the cycling addicts who watched all of those races (AKA yours truly).

A field of 137 men and 67 women – something which, before you ask, will be rectified to a point at Paris in four years with equal fields for both – took to the roads, some in teams and some solo, with three medals being awarded.

‘Where’s this going? Isn’t that how all the Olympic events work?’ I hear you ask.

That’s true. But in the spirit of fairness, why not spread the winning glory around a bit more?

A chance for Olympic glory comes around once every four years, but no course can give an equal chance to all riders. This generation’s top sprinters, for example, wouldn’t have had a chance at glory with mountainous courses in Rio and Tokyo.

Powerhouse time triallists have arguably been excluded by the same courses – look at the amount of climbing over this year’s route – and whilst Paris may be much less mountainous, some riders may not get a chance at glory in their careers based on the courses – in complete contrast to almost every other discipline.

And indeed, cycling is very much a team sport with individual glories – Slovenia’s Jan Tratnik was just as deserving of a bronze medal as Tadej Pogacar, and the work Greg Van Avermaet did to bring back the break also played a crucial role.

So to fix these imbalances, how about an Olympic Grand Tour? Medals can be awarded for individual stages, with gold silver and bronze for the overall winner, King of the Mountains, Best Sprinter and Best overall team.

An event of five days could have a sprint stage, a classic stage, a summit finish, a team time trial and a transition stage – with transfers for the riders to the village and back, or a moving peloton.

After all, if we can have grand tours…

Hey dude, where’s the Golf?

I write this with full awareness that most people who have been watching the Olympics will not be there for the golf. However, whilst an Olympic gold is not the most important title in the sport, it does mean that we get to see a top-class field taking on the stunning Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Well, that turned out not to be the case for those of us without Discovery +. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not expecting BBC coverage from tee to green. But surely one of the nine – yes, nine – Eurosport channels would carry coverage?

Of course not. There was all the tennis, handball and volleyball one could want – understandably – and of course, lots of swimming and rowing coverage, but three channels were filled with replays, including Eurosport 5, which has been broadcasting wall to wall football since the beginning of the games.

Is it too much to ask for some golf?

(Irony alert) – Eurosport 3 are showing highlights as we speak.

Last But Never Least

Who’s your Olympic hero? There are many people to choose from but only one winner:

Have a great week!


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.