French gastronomy facing huge logistical challenge for Olympics

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Nutritionist and sailing Olympian Helene Defrance speaks as Sodexo Live, the company tasked with serving 40,000 meals a day during the Paris 2024 Olympics, unveiled some of the items on the menu on May 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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From left to right, leading French chefs attend a media conference on May 9, 2023, of Sodexo Live, a company tasked with serving 40,000 meals a day at the Olympic Village in Paris. (AP Photo)
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Updated 11 May 2023

French gastronomy facing huge logistical challenge for Olympics

  • Around 40,000 meals a day will be served during the Paris Olympics, with food service group Sodexo Live! charged with the task
  • In addition to the Olympic Village, Sodexo will also cater 14 other Olympic sites and eight Paralympic venues throughout France

PARIS: France’s vaunted gastronomy will be put to the ultimate test when organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics have to feed 15,000 athletes.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed the “gastronomic meal of the French” on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
“The gastronomic meal emphasises togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature,” UNESCO said.
“The gastronomic meal should respect a fixed structure, commencing with an aperitif (drinks before the meal) and ending with liqueurs, containing in between at least four successive courses, namely a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert.”
Realistically, the restaurants run by French catering giants Sodexo might not be offering up such a complete experience — and doubtless few athletes in the prime of their lives would take on such a culinary bonanza given they will be in Paris on tight schedules focused more on competing than indulging themselves.
Around 40,000 meals a day will be served during the Paris Olympics, using produce largely sourced in France.
Sodexo, through its subsidiary Sodexo Live!, already has experience of catering high-profile sporting events such as the Super Bowl, tennis’ French Open and the Tour de France cycling race.
But it will have its work cut out feeding participants at the July 26-August 11 Games and then the Paralympics that follow on August 28-September 8.

From left to right, leading French chefs attend a media conference on May 9, 2023, of Sodexo Live, a company tasked with serving 40,000 meals a day at the Olympic Village in Paris. (AP Photo)

Some 6,000 people will be employed to help in the restaurants, Sodexo Live! managing director Nathalie Bellon-Szabo said on Tuesday.
In addition to the Olympic Village, Sodexo will also cater 14 other Olympic sites and eight Paralympic venues throughout France.

Games organizers have made no secret of what they will be serving up: more vegetables than usual with an emphasis on locally-grown products.
Of the estimated 13 million meals that will be served during the Olympics and Paralympics, from a snack right through to a dish cooked by a top chef, the goal is to have produce that is 80 percent French.
It is a “huge logistical challenge,” says Philipp Wuerz, project manager for catering, cleaning and waste on the Paris 2024 organizing committee.
Avoiding queues, providing food that is healthy, varied and of good quality, with 25 percent of produce sourced “from within 250km” of each site, is challenging to say the least.
“We’re used to managing this type of event, but not over such a long period of time,” says Stephane Chicheri, chief executive of Sodexo Live!
There will be a necessity to remain “adaptable” over potential supply chain issues and price hikes for certain produce, Maxime Jacob, the organizing committee’s catering project manager, told AFP.
The athletes can choose from 500 recipes, which are currently undergoing fine-tuning before menus are signed off by the end of this year.
It is impossible, however, to be 100 percent local, Wuerz said.

A green lentil dahl, with skyr coriander and a corn tuile dish of French chef Charles Guilloy of Sodexo Live is displayed during media conference in Paris on May 9, 2023. (AP Photo)

“The athletes will eat around three million bananas and they don’t grow in the Paris region!“
Bananas, exotic fruits and rice will nevertheless be “organic or fair-trade certified,” Wuerz says.
All meat and dairy products will be 100 percent French, while seafood will be from sustainable fishing.

The recipes have been drawn up after consulting athletes and nutritional experts, including Helene Defrance, a dietician who won a sailing bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“There are no set menus” because organizers have to adapt to the food habits of every athlete, Defrance says, be it light meals or carbo-loading.
During their stay at the village in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris, athletes will also be treated to haute cuisine.
A trio of French chefs will have their own space next to the main Olympic food hall.
Amandine Chaignot will serve up guinea fowl with langoustines or gnocchi in chicken sauce. Akrame Benallal has come up with a crispy quinoa muesli, while you can expect Alexandre Mazzia to produce a herb-packed chickpea pommade.
The main food hall will have 3,600 seats and offer up dishes that are not just French-themed but also from around the world, as well as halal food for Muslim athletes, Jacob said.
In a bid to help make the Games more sustainable, water fountains will be installed to reduce single-use plastics, while the kitchen equipment and cutlery will all be re-used after the Paralympics brings an end to a colossal logistic challenge.

Pakistan open to welcoming Mohammad Amir to World Cup squad — chief selector

Updated 22 September 2023

Pakistan open to welcoming Mohammad Amir to World Cup squad — chief selector

  • Fast bowler retired from international cricket in 2020 citing discrimination, ‘mental torture’
  • Chief selector says if Amir to be considered for World Cup is willing to play domestic cricket

ISLAMABAD: Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said on Friday Pakistan was ‘open’ to the possibility of welcoming former fast bowler Mohammad Amir back into the squad ahead of the World Cup if he consistently performed well in domestic competitions.
Amir announced his retirement from international cricket at the age of 28 in December 2020, claiming he could no longer play in an atmosphere where he did not feel welcome in the national team.
Amir, who was jailed in 2011 for his part in a spot-fixing scandal, served three months in prison and a five-year ban from all forms of cricket before returning to the Pakistan squad in January 2016.
The left-arm bowler excelled in limited-overs cricket after that, helping Pakistan to the Champions Trophy title in 2017, but was dropped from the squad to tour New Zealand in 2020.
Questioned about the chance of Amir returning to the squad for the upcoming cricket World Cup starting next month in India, the chief selector said “the doors are open for everyone, including Amir.”
“Aamir is a great cricketer and he had decided to retire,” the official said.
“If he wants to play for Pakistan, the doors are open for everyone. If he comes back and plays first-class cricket and performs well, he will definitely be considered … I have said this before, neither the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) nor the selection committee closes the door [of opportunity] for anyone.”

In an interview with a local news channel when he retired, Amir said he had been “mentally tortured by the team management, subjected to frequent taunts, and felt deliberately sidelined.” 
Asked if he was leaving the sport altogether he said: “No, I’m not going away from cricket. If you have seen the atmosphere here and the way I’ve been sidelined, I got a wake-up call when I was not selected in the 35-man squad,” Amir had told Samaa TV.
“I don’t think I can play cricket under this management. I think I should leave cricket this time. I am being tortured mentally. I don’t think I can tolerate any more torture now.
“I’ve experienced a lot of torture from 2010 to 2015. I was away from the game and sentenced for my mistake. I’m being tortured again and again...”
Amir, who has 259 wickets across all formats, had retired from test cricket in 2019 to focus on the white-ball game.
He was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers in the 2019 50-overs World Cup in England with 17 wickets as they missed out on a semifinal spot.

LIV Golf Jeddah to stage regular season finale next month

Updated 22 September 2023

LIV Golf Jeddah to stage regular season finale next month

  • Individual and team titles, and 2024 league spots all on the line at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from Oct. 13-15

JEDDAH: LIV Golf makes its highly anticipated return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club here from Oct. 13 to 15, when the league’s 2023 regular season will reach its conclusion and set the stage for the Team Championship — and the future for many golfers.

The event marks the 13th tournament of the league’s first full season. There are 13 major winners who will compete in King Abdullah Economic City, including 2023 PGA Championship winner and 2023 US Ryder Cup Team selection Brooks Koepka, 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith, World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, and two-time major winners Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer.

There will be much to play for amongst those atop the individual standings. Those further down the standings face a battle to secure their future, with players ranked 45 and below in the “Drop Zone” at season’s end facing relegation and losing their LIV Golf status for next year.

Smith currently leads the individual standings with 170 points after wins in London and Bedminster. In-form American Talor Gooch (149), a three-time individual champion this season, is in hot pursuit of the Australian. They are followed by seven contenders including 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah winner Koepka, 4Aces GC captain Johnson and Crushers GC captain DeChambeau, who shot a sensational 58 at LIV Golf Greenbrier earlier this year.

Those who finish in the top 24 in the overall standings will lock-in their position in the LIV Golf League for next season. Players finishing in the “Open Zone,” positions 25 to 44, however, may face trade or release by their respective teams. Meanwhile, those finishing in positions 45 and below sitting in the “Drop Zone” will be relegated and automatically qualify for the league’s promotional tournament, where they will have the opportunity to earn their spot back for the 2024 season.

Aside from the individual race, each player in the 48-man field has good reason to make their scores count, as the final team standings following LIV Golf Jeddah will determine seeds one to 12 for the LIV Golf Team Championship in Miami the following week, with the top four teams receiving first-round byes.

Through 11 events, 4Aces GC — featuring Johnson, Reed, Peter Uihlein and Pat Perez — sit atop the team standings with 172 points after wins in Adelaide and London. Torque GC, featuring Chilean stars Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira, Colombian Sebastian Munoz, and Spanish rookie David Puig, trail closely behind with 163 total points following wins in Orlando, D.C., Andalucia and Greenbrier.

The all-South African Stinger GC featuring major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Dean Burmester, currently sit in third place with 156 points. DeChambeau’s Crushers GC (146 points), including Paul Casey, Charles Howell III and Anirban Lahiri, hold a three-point edge in fourth place over RangeGoats GC (143 points). They boast five top-three finishes this season thanks to standout performances by Gooch, Harold Varner III, Thomas Pieters, and captain Watson.

Stunning Kante winner sees champions Al-Ittihad beat Al-Fateh and return to Saudi Pro League summit

Updated 22 September 2023

Stunning Kante winner sees champions Al-Ittihad beat Al-Fateh and return to Saudi Pro League summit

  • 2-1 home victory means the Jeddah club leapfrogs Al-Hilal, who drew 1-1 with Damac, at the top of the table

Champions Al-Ittihad returned to the top of the Roshn Saudi League after a 2-1 comeback win over Al-Fateh at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah on Thursday night.

Marwane Saadane gave the visitors the lead after 30 minutes, before Al-Ittihad’s Brazilian star Romarinho equalized eight minutes later.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante gave the reigning champions the lead in stoppage time of the first half with a stunning strike, and there would be no addition to the scoreline in the second half.

The 2-1 win leaves Al-Ittihad top of the table with 18 points from seven matches, one more than Al-Hilal, who drew 1-1 with Damac. Al-Fateh remain on 11 points in seventh place.

Saudi Pro League history was made in stoppage time of the match when Ittihad coach Nuno Santo introduced 16-year-old Talal Haji for Romarinho, making him the youngest footballer to play in the competition since the adoption of its current system in the 2008-2009 season.


Naseem Shah is ruled out of the Cricket World Cup in a big injury blow for Pakistan

Updated 22 September 2023

Naseem Shah is ruled out of the Cricket World Cup in a big injury blow for Pakistan

  • Naseem sustained shoulder injury during Asia Cup in Sri Lanka
  • Shah was replaced by Hasan Ali in a 15-member squad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan sustained a big blow after its ace pace bowler Naseem Shah was ruled out of the Cricket World Cup on Friday due to a right shoulder injury.
Naseem sustained the injury during the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. He was replaced by Hasan Ali in a 15-member squad announced on Friday. The World Cup starts on Oct. 5 in India.
Hasan played his last ODI in June last year against the West Indies but was dropped due to his indifferent form in 50-overs cricket.
“Hasan is an experienced bowler and has performed well in mega events in the past,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said in Lahore while announcing the squad.
“We were forced to make one change because of an unfortunate injury to Naseem Shah. We needed someone who could bowl with the new ball. He (Hasan) bowls well with both old and new ball, and is a team man. His presence lends energy to the team.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board said Naseem has been advised to undergo surgery, following a thorough medical examination and consultations with leading medical experts and is expected to recover in three to four months. It means the mercurial fast bowler is certain to miss a test series against Australia after the World Cup.
There were doubts over the fitness of fast bowler Haris Rauf, who missed out the last Super 4 game against Sri Lanka after sustaining an injury during the game against India.
“We had a few injury scares in the recent Asia Cup, but I am glad to share that all the players are fully fit and are eager to perform for their country in the all-important tournament,” Inzamam said.
“I have received encouraging reports from our medical panel about Haris Rauf. He has started to (shadow) bowl at the National Cricket Academy and will be available for selection.”
The core of the Pakistan team is the same which competed in the recent Asia Cup under captain Babar Azam, but couldn’t qualify for the final after losing to archrival India and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 portion of the tournament.
Spin all-rounders Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz both retained their places in the side with leg-spinner Usama Mir as the other spin option for Pakistan. Pakistan didn’t tinker with its batting lineup with left-hander test specialist Saud Shakeel as the only surprise inclusion in the 15-member side.
Pakistan is scheduled to play two warm-up games against New Zealand and Australia before it takes on the Netherlands in its opening World Cup game on Oct. 6 at Hyderabad.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usama Mir. Reserves: Zaman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris.

Ronaldo and teammates don Saudi traditional attire in Nassr Saudi National Day video

Updated 22 September 2023

Ronaldo and teammates don Saudi traditional attire in Nassr Saudi National Day video

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo once again takes center stage as Al-Nassr release a Saudi National Day video filled with traditional dances, swords and garments.

Nassr fans were delighted to see their stars partake in the festive mood in the Kingdom as the club dropped a fun early Friday morning video celebrating the occasion.

The country’s national day is celebrated each year on the Sept. 23 and falls on a weekend this year.

The video mixes glimpses of the club’s past successes and history with its forward-looking revival, with some of the best players on the planet donning the famous yellow jersey in the past year.

The video begins with a group of youngsters gatecrashing the club’s headquarters in Tuwaiq and catching first-team players getting ready for national day festivities.

In the 2 and half minute clip, Winger Abdulrahman Ghareeb and keeper Nawaf Alaqidi are shown preparing drums for the celebration. Goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah shares Arabic coffee with Otávio as the Portuguese midfielder gets a haircut for the occasion.

Talisca, the blond-haired Brazilian attacking midfielder, is seen in the video taking measurements for head coach Luis Castro’s new white thobe. Senegalese marksman Sadio Mané rests a sword on his shoulder as drumbeats resounding around him.

But it’s Ronaldo who takes center spot in the clip as he performs the Ardah with teammates Abdullah Alkhaibari, Mercelo Brozovic, and Sultan Al-Ghanam.

Ronaldo, one of the best known names in the sport, arrived in the Kingdom last year in a move that has led to a number of top players from European championships joining the Saudi Pro League over the summer.

Sports authorities in the Kingdom are aiming to make the SPL one of the biggest leagues in the world and have invested heavily to support that goal.