Japanese doctor warns holding Games could lead to “Olympic virus” strain

Although Japan has repeatedly pledged to hold a “safe and secure” 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after a year-long postponement, it is struggling to contain a fourth wave. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 27 May 2021

Japanese doctor warns holding Games could lead to “Olympic virus” strain

  • Japanese officials, Olympics organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead

TOKYO: The head of a Japanese doctors union on Thursday warned holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, with tens of thousands of people gathering from around the world, could lead to the development of a new “Olympic” strain of the coronavirus.
Although Japan has repeatedly pledged to hold a “safe and secure” 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after a year-long postponement, it is struggling to contain a fourth wave of the pandemic and preparing to extend a state of emergency that covers much of the country.
Japanese officials, Olympics organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead, albeit under strict virus prevention measures. Foreign spectators have already been banned and a decision on domestic viewers is expected next month.
But even with these steps in place, worries remain about the influx of athletes and officials into Japan, where the vaccine process remains glacially slow and just over 5 percent of the population have received inoculations.
With people from over 200 nations and territories set to arrive in Tokyo, it will be dangerous to host the Games in July, said Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union.
“All of the different mutant strains of the virus which exist in different places will be concentrated and gathering here in Tokyo. We cannot deny the possibility of even a new strain of the virus potentially emerging after the Olympics,” he told a news conference.
“If such a situation were to arise, it could even mean a Tokyo Olympic strain of the virus being named in this way, which would be a huge tragedy and something which would be the target of criticism even for 100 years.”

With people from over 200 nations and territories set to arrive in Tokyo, it will be dangerous to host the Games in July, said Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union. (ANJ Photo)
 

State of emergency
The Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Tokyo Olympics, carried an editorial on Wednesday urging the Games be canceled, but former IOC vice president Dick Pound said later in the day the sports extravaganza should and would go ahead.
The government is currently preparing to extend a state of emergency across much of the nation originally set to be lifted on May 31, most likely well into June, officials have said — just weeks before the Games are set to open on July 23.
But IOC member John Coates has said the Olympics could be held even under a state of emergency, an opinion Ueyama said was infuriating.
“In regards to these statements, the people of Japan are indeed holding great anger toward this, and this is even more the case for health care and medical professionals,” Ueyama said.
Japan’s medical system is currently under extreme stress and officials in some areas worry about potential additional strains from the Games. In hard-hit Osaka, for example, 96 percent of the 348 hospital beds reserved for serious virus cases were in use last week.
Earlier this week, the United States advised against travel to Japan, but Olympics organizers have said this will not affect the Games. The White House on Wednesday said it had been assured by the Japanese government that it will keep in close contact about concerns over the Olympics.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan would continue making every effort to control the virus irrespective of the Olympics.
In a sign of how uncertain the situation remains, however, Australia’s major sports leagues and Olympic hopefuls were left scrambling to make contingency plans after authorities announced a seven-day lockdown in the southern state of Victoria to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.


Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

Updated 25 sec ago

Christensen ruled out as Barca injury crisis deepens

BARCELONA: Barcelona defender Andreas Christensen has suffered a sprained ankle, the club confirmed on Wednesday, leaving the Catalans with only two fit center-backs.
The Denmark center-back was taken off in the 1-0 defeat by Inter Milan on Tuesday at the San Siro, and is a doubt for upcoming games, including the Clasico on October 16.
Barca are already without Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Hector Bellerin in defense, as well as Dutch duo Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong.
“Tests carried out on Wednesday have confirmed that the first team player Andreas Christensen has a sprained left ankle,” said Barca in a statement.
“He is unavailable and his recovery will dictate his return.”
Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia are set to line up in the center of defense against Celta Vigo on Sunday in La Liga, with Xavi thin on alternatives beyond using players from the B team.
Inter visit Camp Nou on Wednesday October 12, a crucial game for Barca’s hopes of qualifying for the next round of the Champions Leagues, before the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Saudi Arabia wins right to host Asian Winter Games in 2029

Updated 05 October 2022

Saudi Arabia wins right to host Asian Winter Games in 2029

  • Games to be held at Trojena, winter sports complex being built in northwest of Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity
  • Olympic Council of Asia said the Saudi bid was “unanimously approved” at general assembly meeting in Phnom Penh

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia was chosen on Tuesday to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex being built in the northwest of the Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity.

“The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports,” the Olympic Council of Asia said after the Saudi bid was “unanimously approved” at its general assembly meeting in Phnom Penh.

Trojena, which is due to be completed in 2026, is in an area of NEOM where winter temperatures drop below zero and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region.

One of 10 regions within NEOM, it is about 50 km inland from the Gulf of Aqaba in an area that, like much of the rest of the Kingdom, receives very little rainfall. The site spans 60 square kilometers, at an elevation of between 1,500 and 2,600 meters.

The complex will have year-round skiing, chalets, mansions, ultra-luxury hotels and a five-meter-deep manmade lake filled with desalinated sea water.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that Trojena “will redefine mountain tourism for the world by creating a place based on the principles of ecotourism, highlighting our efforts to preserve nature and enhance the community’s quality of life.”

Among those on the successful Saudi bid team for the Games was alpine skier Fayik Abdi. “I never believed I would ski in my homeland,” he said.

There will be 47 events at the Trojena Games — 28 on snow and 19 on ice — including competitions for skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the success of the Saudi bid to host the Games was “a great victory for the Saudi nation and the people of the Gulf countries.”

He said: “The Saudi sports sector significantly contributes to … the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.”

The successful bid “also shed light on the enormous potential and the outstanding infrastructure of Saudi Arabia to host and organize international-level sports competitions and games successfully.”

Committee vice president Prince Fahd bin Jalawi said the Saudi leadership was “sparing no effort to push Saudi sports forward alongside the most advanced countries in the world.”

NEOM chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr said Trojena would have “suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make the Winter Games in Trojena an unprecedented global event.”


Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Updated 05 October 2022

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

  • The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin

MONASTIR, TUNISIA: Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur eased into the second round of her home tournament at Monastir on Tuesday with a straight sets win over American Ann Li.

Top seed Jabeur, a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year, won 6-2, 6-3 in the first-ever WTA tour event to be hosted in Tunisia.

The world No. 2 took 73 minutes to dispatch her 67th ranked opponent in their first meeting.

The Monastir tournament, staged on the central coast of Tunisia, is just the second women’s professional circuit organized in Africa, after that of Rabat in Morocco.

Jabeur is hugely popular in north Africa, and the world No. 2 is hoping “to reach the final and win in Monastir to make Tunisians happy.” 

The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin.

“Young people must gain self-confidence to achieve their ambitions,” said the player dubbed “Minister of Happiness” in a Tunisia hit by a deep political and economic crisis.

Related


Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

Updated 05 October 2022

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

  • The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday

LOS ANGELES: US international captain Becky Sauerbrunn said Tuesday team owners and officials implicated in a bombshell report which detailed systemic sexual abuse and misconduct in US women’s soccer should be barred from the sport.

The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday following a year-long investigation by former US Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates’ report included interviews with more than 200 National Women’s Soccer League players — many of them members of US national teams — and detailed patterns of abuse from team coaches, manipulation and tirades.

“Every owner and executive and US soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated fully in these investigations should be gone,” Sauerbrunn said in a video-conference call from London, where the US women’s team is preparing for a friendly with England on Friday.

Merritt Paulson, the owner of Sauerbrunn’s club, the Portland Thorns, was accused in the Yates report along with other club officials of enabling misconduct by former Thorns manager Paul Riley.

Pressed on whether Paulson was included in the team owners she believes should be forced out of the NWSL, Sauerbrunn replied: “It includes everyone that has continued to fail the players time and time again, who didn’t take players concerns seriously, who didn’t pass on information correctly, who have not participated in investigations. All of them.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, Paulson, who is also the owner of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer franchise, said he was removing himself from all Thorns-related decision-making until the conclusion of a separate NWSL/NWSL Players Association investigation.

“I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015,” Paulson said in a statement.

“I am truly sorry.”

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said players were “not doing well” following publication of the findings of the investigation, which was launched last year after reports in The Athletic and Washington Post lifted the lid on abuse in the NWSL.

“We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry,” said Sauerbrunn, a veteran of 208 internationals stretching back to 2008.

“We are angry that it took a third party investigation. We’re angry that it took an article in The Athletic and the Washington Post.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now.

“For so long, this has always fallen on the players to demand change. And that is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us. And they have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable.”

US head coach Vlatko Andonovski, meanwhile, said members of his squad would be given the option of sitting out this week’s game against England if they decided they were not in the right frame of mind for the game.

“Some players and staff members need time, need space, need to process all of it,” Andonovski said. “That’s why we as a staff are allowing the players to think and process to do whatever they need in order to get over this difficult time.

“If that means they don’t want to participate in a team meeting, or in a team training, or even if they don’t want to play the game, then it’s up to them,” said Andonovski, adding that he was “sickened and disgusted” by details of the report.

“Now this report is out, it’s our job to do our part to make sure that no one has to deal with this ever again in our sport at any level,” he added.

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said she has not contemplated the possibility of going on strike to force change in the NWSL.

“I haven’t thought about not playing,” she said. “I hope it won’t get to that point. A lot of us have been navigating these things for a very long time and you find a way to deal with it. We, as women, as players have faced a lot for a very long time. Unfortunately, I’d say you get used to it.”


Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

Updated 05 October 2022

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

ARLINGTON, Texas: Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first row of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

After No. 99 took a smooth, mighty swing, he had a wide smile on his face as he rounded the bases and his Yankees teammates streamed out of the dugout to celebrate with him. They stayed away from home plate, letting Judge step on it before sharing hugs and high-fives.

Judge’s mother and father were in the stands to see Judge end a five-game homerless streak, including Game 1 of the doubleheader when he was 1 for 5 with a single.

The ball was caught by a fan in Section 31, who was then taken with security to have the ball authenticated.

Another fan was escorted away after leaping out of the seats into a gap between the seats and the left-field wall.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans — perhaps many — until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”