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Tokyo Olympics 2020 Games
delay looms as Canada, Australia quit

TORONTO/TOKYO: Major sporting nations Australia and Canada quit ...

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Tokyo Olympics 2020 Games delay looms as Canada, Australia quit
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TORONTO/TOKYO: Major sporting nations Australia and Canada quit the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Monday as organisers faced global pressure to postpone the Games due to the coronavirus crisis for the first time in their 124-year modern history. Putting back the July 24-Aug. 9 event, as is looking inevitable, would be a massive blow for host Japan which has pumped in more than $12 billion of investment in the run-up. Huge sums are also at stake for sponsors and broadcasters. But a groundswell of concern from athletes – already struggling to train as gyms, stadiums and swimming pools close around the world – appears to be tipping the balance, along with the cancellation of other major sports events. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government have both edged back from weeks of blanket insistence the Games would go ahead, announcing a month-long consultation over other scenarios including postponement. The Olympics have never before been delayed, though there were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the World Wars and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984 respectively. “The moment the IOC indicates that it is thinking about other solutions, it has already decided to delay the Games,” said French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia. Canada and Australia both bluntly said they would not participate if the Games were not put back to 2021. “We are in the midst of a global health crisis that is far more significant than sport,” said Canada’s Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC) in a statement. The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) also told its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Games in 2021. “Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty have been extremely challenging for them,” said Australia’s Olympics Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman. Paralympic athletes were considered at particular risk from the epidemic given some had underlying health problems. Various nations urged a quick decision from the IOC, which is led by its powerful president, Thomas Bach, a German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion. More than 14,600 people have died globally since the coronavirus outbreak began. “GIVE RESPITE TO ATHLETES” Athletes were broadly supportive of postponing the Games, though sad at seeing their dreams in doubt. “Competing in the Olympics is my #1 goal but I fully support this decision and I commend our leadership for taking a stand,” tweeted Canadian tennis player Gabriela Dabrowski. Only a few dissented, reigning Pan American 400 metres hurdles champion Sage Watson calling Canada’s move “premature” Monday’s announcements followed growing pressure from big stakeholders including U.S. Track and Field, UK Athletics and other national Olympic committees. “An Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable,” World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe said. “We owe it to our athletes to give them respite where we can.” Japan’s government seemed to be bowing to the inevitable despite the massive losses and logistics headaches it would face. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament that if holding the event as planned was too difficult, “we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games, given the Olympic principle of putting the health of athletes first”. Abe has staked his legacy as Japan’s longest-serving premier on the Games and was hoping for a boom in tourism and consumer spending. At risk is more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorship. Both Japan and the IOC have stressed that calling off the Games entirely is not an option. But finding a new date could be complicated as the summer 2021 calendar is already crowded, while 2022 will see the soccer World Cup and the Beijing Winter Olympics. Japanese sponsors, from Toyota Motor Corp to Panasonic Corp, were nervously watching. But Tokyo stocks sensitive to the success of the Olympics surged on Monday, after sharp falls in prior weeks, thanks to expectations of a delay rather than a cancellation. Postponement is a potential major blow to the IOC’s prestige and power after its insistence the Games would go ahead. Many athletes already felt disrespected during the Russian doping scandal when Bach ensured Russians could carry on competing, albeit as neutrals. And his iron grip on the IOC could weaken after various national committees at the weekend distanced themselves from his stance over Tokyo. He is up for re-election in 2021. Reuters
Oman Observer

Dybala, Maldini test positive
for coronavirus

Rome: Argentina striker Paulo Dybala said on Saturday that he has become...

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Dybala, Maldini test positive for coronavirus
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Rome: Argentina striker Paulo Dybala said on Saturday that he has become the third Juventus player to test positive for coronavirus while former AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini revealed that he and his son have also been infected. “Hi everyone. I just wanted to let you know that we have received the Covid-19 test results and that Oriana (Sabatini, his girlfriend) and I are positive,” the 26-year-old Dybala tweeted. “Fortunately, we are perfectly fine. Thank you for your messages.” Italian champions Juventus said that Dybala had been self-isolating since Wednesday. “He will continue to be monitored. He is well and is asymptomatic,” said the club in a statement. Later Saturday, the club said Maldini, now the technical director at Milan, and his 18-year-old son Daniel, a youth team player, were also battling the disease. “Paolo and Daniel are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others,” said a statement from AC Milan. “They will now remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities.” Maldini, 51, is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time. He won five Champions Leagues with Milan and appeared in 647 matches. Juventus teammates Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi have also tested positive for the disease which claimed almost 800 more lives on Saturday, bringing the total in Italy to 4,825. — AFP
Oman Observer

Man Utd, Man City unite
to help Manchester foodbanks

London: Manchester United and Manchester City have joined forces to donate...

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Man Utd, Man City unite to help Manchester foodbanks
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London: Manchester United and Manchester City have joined forces to donate a combined £100,000 ($117,000) to help local foodbanks affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Collections are normally made at home games for both Manchester giants by fans’ groups supporting foodbanks, but football in England is suspended until at least April 30 due to restrictions on mass gatherings due to coronavirus. “We are proud of the role our supporters play in helping local food banks and recognise the increased strain likely to be placed on these charities by the impact of coronavirus,” the clubs said in a joint statement. “At a time of challenge for our community, we are pleased to come together with our fans to help vulnerable members of society in a City United.” The donation will support the Trussell Trust’s 19 foodbank centres in the Greater Manchester area. United have taken steps to try to alleviate the burden on their staff and supporters during the crisis. The Red Devils have vowed to pay 3,000 casual staff even for the remainder of the season even if matches at Old Trafford are forced behind closed doors or cancelled. And fans who travelled to Austria for the Europa League last 16, first leg against LASK only for the game to be played behind closed doors at late notice were given a £350 ($415) payment towards travel and accommodation. Britain ramped up its response to the pandemic on Friday by ordering pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms to close. — AFP
Oman Observer

Virus chaos leaves English
clubs fearing for future

London: Forced into lockdown by the coronavirus, English teams outside ...

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Virus chaos leaves English clubs fearing for future
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London: Forced into lockdown by the coronavirus, English teams outside the lucrative Premier League are facing an unprecedented period of financial uncertainty. Championship, League One and League Two matches will not resume until April 30 at the earliest and even that date looks optimistic given the chaos caused by the pandemic. A grim reality is taking hold in boardrooms around the country and some teams fear they could be forced out of business if football doesn’t return until after the summer. Aware of the growing panic, the Football League agreed a £50 million ($58 million) relief package, based on an early payment of bonuses, television money and an interest-free loan, to assist financially stricken clubs. But reports this week claimed that will only be enough to tide clubs over for the next four weeks. Cambridge chief executive officer Ian Mather admits the rescue package may not be enough, with the nightmare prospect of having to lay off staff a possibility. “These are unprecedented times for all of us in so many different ways,” Mather said. “One of the most concerning features of the situation for everyone is that there is no clarity as to when it will end. “This (rescue package) is welcome news but the amount we can access is relatively small and it is far from a complete answer to the financial problem we are facing. “We are looking at ways of reducing our cost base and this will include making some extremely difficult decisions when it comes to our staff.” Without matchday revenue, it is likely that some clubs will ask their players to accept wage cuts if the lockdown continues into the summer. In Scotland, top-flight outfit Hearts have already told their players and staff to take a 50 per cent wage cut in a bid to stay afloat. ‘Hit hard’ There could be aid on the horizon if television broadcaster Sky Sports are willing to release some of the £119 million they are due to play the Football League next season. But that remains uncertain and, for now, fear is the over-riding mood across the English game. Steve Thompson, managing director of Dagenham, believes the fifth tier National League will need a bailout from the British government to survive. Thompson said clubs in the National League will, between them, require between £15 million and £20 million to keep running and revealed talks are ongoing with the Football Association. “It is going to require government help. The biggest worry is that so many non-league clubs, they are integral parts of their community. It worries me if these clubs are lost, what will happen going forward,” Thompson said. “There needs to be a concentrated effort. I don’t think we can expect a bailout from the Premier League or FA, so it needs to be government led.” It may not be only non-league and lower league teams in England who feel the pinch, with Championship sides Charlton and Blackburn both having endured financial difficulties before the virus. Millwall are one of the smaller teams in the second tier, with their 13,734 average gate, ranked 18th among the 24 clubs. The south London side’s chief executive Steve Kavanagh said they have already been wounded by the sudden halt to the season. — AFP
Oman Observer