Olympic organizers, IOC in conflict over who pays for postponement

An open conflict broke out Tuesday between Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC over who will pay for the unprecedented year-long postponement. (Files/AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2020
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Olympic organizers, IOC in conflict over who pays for postponement

  • Japan is spending $12.6 billion for the Olympics, but audit report says it’s twice that much

TOKYO: An open conflict broke out Tuesday between Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC over who will pay for the unprecedented year-long postponement.
Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said the organizing committee has asked the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee to remove a comment from its website suggesting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed that Japan would shoulder most of the postponement costs.
Media reports in Japan estimate the year-long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic will cost $2 billion to $6 billion. Neither side has given an official estimate, but Tokyo CEO Toshiro Muto has called the postponement costs “massive.”
“It's not appropriate for the prime minister’s name to be quoted in this manner," Takaya said on a 90-minute teleconference.
Almost all of the questions, mostly from Japanese reporters, centered on the IOC's statement and the costs for Japan.
The IOC statement, on a page titled “Frequently Asked Questions about Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” said Abe had agreed that Japan “will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs."
Without using Abe's name, IOC President Thomas Bach said almost exactly the same thing 10 days ago in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt on Sunday.
Abe’s spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, also challenged the IOC and said Tuesday there "is no such agreement related to additional cost stemming from the postponement.”
Despite the conflict, there is not much debate about who will pay; it's the Japanese side, but it's also a sensitive subject, particularly for Abe during an economic downturn brought on by the spreading virus.
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, but a government audit report says it is at least twice that much.

BACKGROUND

Under the terms of the Host City Contract signed in 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the Games, the city of Tokyo, the Japanese Olympic Committee and local organizers are obligated to pay most of the costs of the Tokyo Games.

It is  all public money except for $5.6 billion from a privately funded organizing committee budget.
Under the terms of the Host City Contract signed in 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the Games, the city of Tokyo, the Japanese Olympic Committee and local organizers are obligated to pay most of the costs of the Tokyo Games.
Section 68 of the contract reads: “Unless expressly stipulated otherwise in this contract, all obligations of the city, the NOC and/or the OCOG pursuant to this contract, shall be at their expense.”
John Coates of Australia, an IOC member who oversees Tokyo preparations, said in a conference call last week with Tokyo organizers that the postponement would cost the IOC “several hundred million dollars.” Bach had said the same thing to the German newspaper.
Coates made it clear the IOC's payments would go to struggling national Olympic committees and international federations — and not to Tokyo.
One of Coates' solutions to help Tokyo was to cut frills from the program.
According to organizing committee documents, the IOC has already contributed about $1.3 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics. This is from income of $5.7 billion in the latest four-year Olympic cycle.
Japan, with a $5 trillion GDP, obviously has more resources.
Takaya also repeated there is no “Plan B” despite concerns by some scientists that the pandemic will not allow the Olympics to open in 15 months — July 23, 2021.
“We are not commenting on speculation,” Takaya said. "The new dates are already set. It is set for next summer, the summer of 2021. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and all stakeholders are now dedicating themsleves to this new date.”


Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia crowned Australian Open badminton champion

Updated 58 min 57 sec ago
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Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia crowned Australian Open badminton champion

SYDNEY: Malaysian Lee Zii Jia outlasted Japan’s Kodai Naraoka in the men’s singles final to be crowned Australian Open badminton champion Sunday, while Aya Ohori of Japan clinched the women’s title.
With many of the top-ranked players giving the tournament a miss, world number eight Lee took advantage to upset his sixth-ranked opponent 21-19, 11-21, 21-18 in Sydney.
It was his sixth career win on the BWF World Tour and came on the back of victory at the Thailand Open last month.
Ohori triumphed with a gutsy 17-21, 21-19, 21-16 come-from-behind beating of 35th-ranked Indonesian teenager Ester Nurumi Tri Wardoyo.
It was only her second title on tour, having won her first at the Thailand Masters this year.
In the men’s doubles final, China’s He Ji Ting and Ren Xiang Yu swept past Indonesian pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-11, 21-10
But another Indonesian duo, Febriana Dwipuji Kusuma and Amallia Cahaya Pratiwi, broke through to win the women’s doubles, having lost previous finals at the Spain Masters and Thailand Open.
They recovered from a game down to oust Malaysia’s Lai Pei Jing and Lim Chiew Sien 12-21, 21-7, 21-13.
Chinese top seeds Jiang Zhen Bang and Wei Ya Zin overcame countrymen Guo Xin Wa and Chen Fang Hui in the mixed doubles decider by two-games-to-one.
The circuit moves to Fort Worth in the United States next.


Euro 2024: Kylian Mbappe and France aim to start with a win over on-form Austria

Updated 16 June 2024
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Euro 2024: Kylian Mbappe and France aim to start with a win over on-form Austria

DUESSELDORf: World Cup runner-up France is one of the favorites for Euro 2024 and starts its campaign Monday in Dusseldorf against Austria. Poland and the Netherlands are the other teams in Group D. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match.
Match facts
— France had a strong 2023 with eight wins from 10 games and only one loss, to Germany. Four games this year have already included a 2-0 loss — again to Germany — in a March friendly and a 0-0 draw with Canada last week in France’s last game before Euro 2024.
— France’s players have been speaking out on politics ahead of upcoming elections, with forward Marcus Thuram calling on French people to “fight daily” to keep the far right out of power. Teammate Ousmane Dembele urged people to vote ahead of the first round of elections June 30.
— Coach Ralf Rangnick has revitalized Austria since taking over in 2022 and turned down Bayern Munich to stay with the team.
— Austria comes into Euro 2024 on a seven-game unbeaten run with just three goals conceded during that time. A 2-0 win over Germany in November and a 6-1 demolition of Turkiye in March were the highlights.
Team news
— France midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni hasn’t played since he missed Real Madrid’s Champions League final with a foot injury. N’Golo Kanté played the defensive midfield role in France’s two pre-tournament friendlies, his first international games since 2022.
— Austria trained at full strength Friday in Berlin except for defender Gernot Trauner. Coach Ralf Rangnick said he was being rested but isn’t injured.
— Attacking midfielder Christoph Baumgartner says Austria’s attacking players will focus on helping out their defense by trying to put Kylian Mbappe and Dembele under pressure.
By the numbers
— Mbappe is on course to play his 80th game for France and a hat trick would take him to 50 career international goals. Mbappe scored in France’s last two games against Austria, a 1-1 draw and a 2-0 win, both in 2022.
— Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann will be only the fourth French player to make 130 international appearances if he plays against Austria.
— Austria midfielder Christoph Baumgartner has scored in each of the team’s last five games.
— Germany is familiar territory for Austria’s players. Eight of the starting lineup for its 1-1 friendly draw against Switzerland last week play for German clubs.
What they’re saying
“In just one week he reminded us all why he was one of the best midfielders in the world and we are very happy to have him with us.” — France forward Marcus Thuram on teammate N’Golo Kanté’s form after nearly two years away from the team.
“Now there’s a very special tingling feeling once again, of course. The anticipation is massive.” — Austria midfielder Christoph Baumgartner.


Grace Kim shoots 66 to take 5-shot lead in Meijer LPGA Classic

Updated 16 June 2024
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Grace Kim shoots 66 to take 5-shot lead in Meijer LPGA Classic

  • Top-ranked Nelly Korda left Friday after missing her second straight cut following a stretch of six victories in seven events

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan: Grace Kim broke away late Saturday afternoon at Blythefield Country Club, birdieing four of the final six holes to take a five-stroke lead into the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Tied for the second-round lead with Ally Ewing, Kim shot a 6-under 66 to get to 17-under 199. The 23-year-old Australian won in a playoff last year in Hawaii for her lone LPGA Tour title. She lost a large lead in April in Los Angeles in the JM Eagle LA Championship.
“Gving myself another chance to I guess do it again and actually get it done,” Kim said. “I know I’m going to try my best for tomorrow and everyone else will. This golf course calls for lot of birdies and there are a lot of good players out here. ”
Ewing followed her second-round 63 with a 71 to drop into a tie for second with Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Allizen Corpuz and Narin An.
“It was a little bit of a scramble today,” Ewing said. “I made some really good putts to just kind of hang in early.”
Thompson, the 2015 winner who has said this will be her last year playing a full schedule, played the final six holes on the front nine in 7 under in a 65. She has gone more than five years without winning.
“Just kind of got into a groove,” Thompson said. “This is a golf course you know you have to come out and play aggressive and make lots of birdies. Just came out feeling very comfortable, made a few good swings, and rolled in some putts.”
Nordqvist also shot 65. Corpuz had a 68, and An shot 69.
Kim had three straight birdies on the front nine on Nos. 5-7, dropped a stroke on the par-5 10th, then made the late charge with birdies on on the par-3 13th, par-5 14th, par-4 16th and par-5 18th.
“Obviously, I finished pretty strong, so hopefully I can just keep that going,” Kim said. “Have a good night meal. Watched a movie yesterday. That’s probably helped a little bit as well. Maybe do that again tonight and see. Fresh for tomorrow.”
Lilia Vu, a former No. 1 player and double major winner last year, was tied for 14th at 9 under in her return from a back injury that sidelined her since the Ford Championship in late March. She shot 68.
Brooke Henderson, the Canadian who won the event in 2017 and 2019, shot a 73 to drop into a tie for 24th at 7 under. Defending champion Leona Maguire was tied for 57th at 3 under after a 72.
Top-ranked Nelly Korda left Friday after missing her second straight cut following a stretch of six victories in seven events. She won at Blythefield in 2021 at a tournament-record 25 under.
The major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is next week at Sahalee outside Seattle.


Italy recover from disastrous start to win Euro 2024 opener

Updated 16 June 2024
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Italy recover from disastrous start to win Euro 2024 opener

  • Italy are in some ways an unknown quantity coming into this tournament, with the reigning champions having also missed the last two World Cups and failed to fully convince during qualifying

DORTMUND, Germany: Italy recovered from conceding the fastest goal in the competition’s history to get their defense of the European Championship title off to a winning start on Saturday as they came back to beat Albania 2-1 in front of a partisan crowd.
Nedim Bajrami stunned the Italians and delighted a huge Albanian support in Dortmund as he smashed in the opener after just 23 seconds, his strike pulverising the previous record for the quickest goal at the Euros of 67 seconds by Dmitri Kirichenko of Russia in 2004.
Yet Italy’s response to falling behind was quick too, as Alessandro Bastoni headed the Azzurri level on 11 minutes and Nicolo Barella’s glorious effort put them ahead just past the quarter-hour mark.
From then on Luciano Spalletti’s team looked much more assured, although they really should have won by a greater margin rather than face an anxious finale as Albania pushed for an equalizer.
Their performance — the first 23 seconds apart — was largely encouraging before an enticing showdown with fellow heavyweights Spain in nearby Gelsenkirchen next Thursday.
Whatever happens in that match, Italy are already well-placed to advance to the knockout phase of Euro 2024 from Group B, in which Spain defeated Croatia 3-0 earlier on Saturday in Berlin.
Italy are in some ways an unknown quantity coming into this tournament, with the reigning champions having also missed the last two World Cups and failed to fully convince during qualifying.
Only five of Italy’s line-up at kick-off here started the final of the last Euros three years ago, with a new-look team featuring Bologna center-back Riccardo Calafiori winning just his third cap.
Albania, though, are appearing at just their second major tournament having also gone to Euro 2016.
The novelty of the experience for them helps explain why the home of Borussia Dortmund was a sea of excitable Albanian fans decked in red and black who made up the vast majority of the crowd.
They could hardly believe it when their team, coached by the Brazilian former Arsenal and Barcelona left-back Sylvinho, opened the scoring almost straight from kick-off.
Italy’s Federico Dimarco took a throw from the left-back position but played it loosely back into his own box. Bastoni was caught on the back foot, and Bajrami — who plays in Italy for Sassuolo — pounced to control and fire past Gianluigi Donnarumma at the goalkeeper’s near post.
It was a similar start to Italy’s last European Championship match, when Luke Shaw put England ahead inside two minutes in the final at Wembley in 2021 before the Azzurri came back to win on penalties.
This time they drew level when Dimarco and Lorenzo Pellegrini played a short corner routine on the left before the latter crossed for Inter Milan center-back Bastoni to head in at the back post.
Italy had regained their composure and soon went in front on 16 minutes, a Jasir Asani clearance dropping straight to another Inter player in Barella, who made the cleanest of contacts at the edge of the area to send a first-time shot past goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.
They should have added to their lead before the interval, with Davide Frattesi hitting the post after meeting a lovely reverse pass by Gianluca Scamacca in the box.
Scamacca was then denied by Strakosha, while Fedrico Chiesa curled a shot just wide on the hour mark.
Italy then sat back, but Albania did not manage another attempt on target and the second-lowest ranked nation in the competition could not find an equalizer despite their best efforts late on.
Substitute Rey Manaj came closest after getting in behind in the 90th minute, but he could not beat Donnarumma.


England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia

Updated 15 June 2024
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England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia

  • England are currently two points behind Scotland in Group B
  • Title-holders England inflicted an eight-wicket thrashing of Oman on Thursday as they chased down a target of 48 in just 19 balls

NORTH SOUND, Antigua and Barbuda: Reigning champions England were sent in to bat by Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus after rain reduced their must-win T20 World Cup game in Antigua on Saturday to an 11-overs per side contest.
Anything other than a victory would see Jos Buttler’s men knocked out, with Scotland joining already-qualified Australia in the second-round Super Eights before the two countries meet later Saturday in St. Lucia.
England are currently two points behind Scotland in Group B but with a superior net run-rate that will be the tie-breaker if both teams finish level on points.
Title-holders England inflicted an eight-wicket thrashing of Oman on Thursday as they chased down a target of 48 in just 19 balls — the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.
But the game with already-eliminated Namibia is England’s last in a Group B where their opening match against Scotland ended in a washout before they suffered a convincing 36-run loss to Australia.
Even if England beat Namibia, they could still be knocked out should Scotland achieve a stunning upset win over Australia or if that game ends in a no-result.
England, in a game delayed by three hours, made two changes to the team that hammered Oman, with left-arm paceman Sam Curran and ‘death’ bowler Chris Jordan replacing express quick Mark Wood and spin-bowling all-rounder Will Jacks.

Teams
England: Phil Salt, Jos Buttler (capt/wkt), Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley
Namibia: Nikolaas Davin, Michael van Lingen, Jan Frylinck, JP Kotze, Gerhard Erasmus (capt), JJ Smit, David Wiese, Zane Green (wkt), Ruben Trumpelmann, Bernard Scholtz, Jack Brassell

Umpires: Adrian Holdstock (RSA), Langton Rusere (ZIM)
TV umpire: Rashid Riaz (PAK)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)