Olympics- “Islamist terrorism” main concern ahead of Paris Games, city's police chief says

“There is no clear-cut threat yet against the Games and our country but I’d like to remind you that at the end of May, two individuals were arrested in Saint-Etienne and were plotting a project aimed directly at the Olympic Games. (AFP)
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Updated 21 June 2024

Olympics- “Islamist terrorism” main concern ahead of Paris Games, city's police chief says

PARIS: “Islamist terrorism” is the main security worry ahead of the upcoming Paris Olympics, the French capital’s chief of police Laurent Nunez said on Friday.
France is on its highest level of security alert as the Games approach, with the country additionally preparing for snap legislative elections at the end of June.
French authorities also recently foiled an attack on a sports stadium in another French city.
“Islamist terrorism remains our main concern,” Nunez told a press conference seven weeks before the Olympics opening ceremony, which will be held on and along the River Seine on July 26.
“There is no clear-cut threat yet against the Games and our country but I’d like to remind you that at the end of May, two individuals were arrested in Saint-Etienne and were plotting a project aimed directly at the Olympic Games.
“The terrorist threat remains just as important as the protest threat posed by radical environmental groups, the ultra left and the pro-Palestinian movement,” Nunez said.
Last month, an 18-year-old Chechen man was arrested in the city of Saint-Etienne, suspected of planning an attack in the name of Islamic State at the city’s soccer stadium during the Olympics.

From Sara Samir to Dunya Aboutaleb: Five Arab women to watch at the Paris Olympics

Updated 10 sec ago

From Sara Samir to Dunya Aboutaleb: Five Arab women to watch at the Paris Olympics

  • Four women representing Arab countries managed to scoop medals in Tokyo 2020

PARIS: The Paris 2024 Olympics are just around the corner and there is plenty to look forward to when it comes to Arab athletes at these games.

Four women representing Arab countries managed to scoop medals in Tokyo 2020 — the Egyptian trio Feryal Abdelaziz (karate gold), Hedaya Malak (taekwondo bronze) and Giana Farouk (karate bronze), along with Kalkidan Gezahegne of Bahrain (athletics silver) — and there could be more in store in Paris.

Here are five Arab women to look out for at these Olympic Games:

Sara Samir (Egypt) — Weightlifting

Weightlifter Sara Samir etched her name in the history books when she clinched bronze in the 69kg event at the Rio 2016 Olympics, to become Egypt’s first-ever female medalist. She was just 18 at the time, and had to skip her high school exams in order to compete.

A gold medalist at the 2022 and 2023 World Championships in the -76kg weight class, Samir heads to Paris as a strong medal contender in the ultra-competitive 81kg event, where she will be looking to challenge the likes of Tokyo Olympics -76kg gold medalist Neisi Dajomes of Ecuador, Norway’s Solfrid Koanda, and Australia’s Eileen Cikamatana.

The 26-year-old Samir has been selected as one of two flagbearers for Egypt in the opening ceremony — alongside modern pentathlete Olympic silver medalist Ahmed Elgendy — and is targeting the top step on the podium in Paris, after being forced to miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the suspension of her country’s weightlifting federation.

“I’m undergoing rigorous training for Paris. I'm technically and physically prepared to compete. My goal is to win gold despite the strong competition. I won’t give up on my dream, no matter what,” Samir told AFP.

Samir’s weightlifting competition in Paris will take place on Aug. 10.


A post shared by Sara Samir (@sarasamir76kg)

Kaylia Nemour (Algeria) — Artistic gymnastics

At 17 years of age, Kaylia Nemour is already a history-maker.

With a stunning uneven bars routine that draws gasps anytime she performs it, Nemour became the first gymnast representing an African country to clinch a medal at a World Championships when she snatched silver on her signature apparatus in Antwerp last fall.

The France-born Algerian kept up her form this year, sweeping gold in three of the four World Cup events (in Cottbus, Baku, and Doha), and heads to her first Olympics as the favorite for the uneven bars title.

Should she make the podium in Paris, she would become the first African or Arab gymnast to secure an Olympic medal in gymnastics.

“It’s beautiful what she does,” the reigning Olympic uneven bars champion, Nina Derwael, was quoted as saying by sporza.be. “I don’t think anyone will take the gold from her in Paris.”

Women’s qualification in artistic gymnastics commences in Paris on July 28 with the uneven bars final scheduled for Aug. 4.

Dunya Aboutaleb (Saudi Arabia) — Taekwondo

The first Saudi Arabian woman to qualify outright for the Olympics — without the need of a special invitation or wildcard — is looking to further cement her name in the history books by making the podium in the -49kg taekwondo event in Paris this summer.

Dunya Aboutaleb exploded onto the scene when she clinched bronze at the World Taekwondo Championships in Guadalajara in 2022.

She grew up training with boys because there were no girls training in taekwondo in Saudi Arabia and used to cover her hair with a scarf or a hat to blend in with the opposite gender.

Now aged 27 and coached by Kurban Bogdaev, who helped guide Tunisia’s Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi to a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Aboutaleb has high hopes for Paris.

“As the first Saudi woman to qualify for the Olympics, I have reached the stage of kill or be killed,” Aboutaleb told AFP. “I have reached a place where I must achieve something.”

Aboutaleb’s -49kg competition at the Olympics will take place on Aug. 7.


A post shared by Vogue Arabia (@voguearabia)

Ray Bassil (Lebanon) — Shooting

A former world No.1 trap shooter and the reigning Asian champion, Ray Bassil is heading to her fourth Olympics this month with her eyes fixed firmly on the podium.

The 35-year-old Bassil took gold at the World Cup in Baku two months ago, which was a welcome boost to her confidence ahead of the action in Paris.

“For me, it is special because it’s bringing back a lot of confidence. And just to assess my whole training from the beginning of the year until today. I’m super happy that my work is paying off,” she said in an interview with the International Shooting Sport Federation.

“I really hope it’s going to be a good kick-off for the Olympics. It’s just a step forward.”

Women’s trap qualification at the Olympics begins on July 30.


A post shared by Ray Bassil (@rayjbassil)

Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi (Morocco) — Athletics

The fast rise of Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi in the marathon world has been nothing short of remarkable.

The 32-year-old Moroccan was originally a runner over the 5 kilometer, 10 kilometer and half-marathon distances but switched to the full marathon in 2019.

She won her debut marathon in Marrakesh in 2022, smashing the course record along the way.

Gardadi then made history at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year by clinching bronze to become the first Moroccan or Arab woman to win a World Championship medal in the marathon. That secured her qualification for the Paris Olympics.

This year, Gardadi has not slowed down. She ran a personal-best of 2:24:12 at the Xiamen Marathon in China in January before placing eighth with a 2:24:53 amongst an elite field at the prestigious Boston marathon in April.

Gardadi will be making her Olympics debut in Paris, where she hopes to become Morocco’s first female medalist since 2008.

The women’s marathon at the Paris Olympics is scheduled for Aug. 11.

PUBG Mobile makes highly anticipated Esports World Cup debut

Updated 20 July 2024

PUBG Mobile makes highly anticipated Esports World Cup debut

  • The $3m PUBG Mobile World Cup 2024 in Riyadh will run until August 28

RIYADH: The wait for the highly anticipated PUBG Mobile World Cup 2024 is finally over after the 24-team, $3 million tournament kicked off at the Esports World Cup in Riyadh on Friday.

Running from July 19-28 live from Boulevard Riyadh City, the objective for those competing is to parachute onto the remote island below and remain as the last player or team standing in epic battle royale format.

Faisal bin Homran, chief product officer at the Esports World Cup Foundation, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the time has come for PUBG Mobile to headline here at the Esports World Cup — the PUBG Mobile World Cup is going to be incredible. It’s a competition that promises nothing but non-stop action, drama, and excitement — and we’re sure this will go down as one of the very best we see this summer.”

Given PUBG Mobile’s global following and popularity, anticipation at home and abroad has been growing ever since the official Esports World Cup schedule was announced. Now, the PUBG Mobile World Cup 2024 co-headlines at the Esports World Cup — the pinnacle of gaming and esports.

The PUBG Mobile World Cup group stage will see clubs compete from July 19-21 and includes 18 matches with 12 teams assured of qualification to the main tournament (July 26-28). The 12 that fail to qualify will enter the survival stage (July 23-24), where they will have another opportunity to progress with four teams assured of advancement to the main tournament.

Saudi Arabia’s hopes of a PUBG Mobile World Cup win on home soil rest with POWR Esports, making their Esports World Cup debut; Falcons Force, Team Falcons’ PUBG Mobile team; and Twisted Minds. They face off against formidable opposition from Brazil, Mongolia, South Korea, Turkey, and more.

Dota2 Riyadh Masters and Counter-Strike 2 enter latter stages at Esports World Cup

Updated 20 July 2024

Dota2 Riyadh Masters and Counter-Strike 2 enter latter stages at Esports World Cup

  • UK outfit Tundra clinched a 2-1 series win over Russian-based BetBoom to progress to next round of Dota2 Riyadh Masters

RIYADH: Tundra Esports staged a sensational comeback in the Dota2 Riyadh Masters on Friday, coming from behind to beat BetBoom Team and book their place in the lower-bracket semifinals.

Fans at the event and millions more tuning in around the world witnessed a classic back-and-forth encounter, in which Russian-based BetBoom went one clear — taking the first game in a 42-minute classic.

However, Tundra bounced back, leveling the tie at 1-1 in another 42-minute contest. With momentum on their side, the UK outfit won the decisive game — clinching the series 2-1 to progress to the next round. Tundra return for the lower-bracket semifinal on Saturday evening against the winners of the Team Falcons and PSG Quest battle taking place on Saturday afternoon.

Elsewhere at the Esports World Cup, the Counter-Strike 2 semifinals line-up was decided on quarter-finals Friday. Virtus.pro beat Team Vitality to set up a last-four clash with G2 who defeated Team Spirit. The other semifinal features MOUZ and NAVI (Natus Vincere) after they overcame FURIA and FaZe Clan respectively.

The Dota2 Riyadh Masters and Counter-Strike 2 continue on Saturday with both competitions wrapping up on Sunday at the grand finals.

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

Updated 20 July 2024

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

  • The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage
  • The kit’s new design represents the architectural style “Rawashin”

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad FC has unveiled its kit for the 2024/25 season in collaboration with Nike.

Al-Ittihad presented its distinctive new kit in photo sessions in the center of historic Jeddah, among its alleys and ancient buildings, in cooperation with Al-Balad Development Company, the club’s official sponsor.

The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage, which fans have loved and celebrated for 97 years.

The kit’s new design represents the architectural style, “Rawashin,” the prominent traditional wooden panels used to cover windows and external openings at the old houses of Jeddah — considered an icon of the city’s heritage.

Domingos De Oliveira, CEO of Al-Ittihad Club, described the new kit as a symbol of the club’s history: “We worked closely with Nike in order to ensure access to the best that can be presented in the new kit, while preserving the established values of the basic kit, which represents a unique identity, after maintaining it for nearly a century.

“In the new kit, we worked to blend the heritage of Al-Ittihad Club with the history of the region from which it started, with a modern spirit that creates innovation in order to emerge with a product that reflects the club’s vision of starting from the base of its great history toward more glory and development in the current era and the future.

“Attention was paid to all the details in terms of the degree of color and their overlapping in the dividing line between them in the same way that the wooden columns in the Rawashin buildings of Jeddah are intertwined.”

For the first time, the home kit will be presented in three categories — the official home kit, which the players will wear, the stadium category, and the fans category.

The Olympics are coming to the capital of fashion. Expect uniforms befitting a Paris runway

Updated 20 July 2024

The Olympics are coming to the capital of fashion. Expect uniforms befitting a Paris runway

  • When it comes to high-end Olympic fashion — be it for festive opening ceremonies, or for competition — all runways lead to Paris
  • Stella Jean will be there, styling each of Haiti’s dozen or so athletes herself
  • Ralph Lauren says it will be fitting each athlete personally

PARIS: Sure, they call it the City of Light. But Paris is also the City of Fashion, one of most influential fashion capitals of the world for decades, no, centuries (remember Louis XIV?)

So it’s no surprise that fashion designers across the globe are busy getting their national team uniforms ready for their unique spotlight. When it comes to high-end Olympic fashion — be it for festive opening ceremonies, or for competition — all runways lead to Paris.

Stella Jean will be there, styling each of Haiti’s dozen or so athletes herself. Jean, an Italian-Haitian designer based in Rome, figures she has exactly two seconds, on opening ceremony night, to make an impression on the world — an impression that may reverberate for years. “For these athletes, it’s a victory just to be here,” says Jean, whose vivid, colorful design is intended to highlight the cultural vitality of the Caribbean nation.

On the other end of the size (and budget) spectrum is Ralph Lauren, who will outfit hundreds of athletes of the US team at opening and closing ceremonies, for the ninth time. Lauren, who’s presenting a casual look of blue jeans and blazers, is of course one of the world’s richest designers, along with Giorgio Armani, who has been designing Italy’s uniforms since 2012.

Countless other designers have gotten involved — including, this year, more young, “indie” labels eager to make a splash. It’s also a chance to emphasize qualities such as sustainability in fashion and adaptability, too, as in designs for the Paralympics.

“Designers and manufacturers now realize this can be a huge platform for them, for many things,” says Alison Brown, who co-hosts a podcast on all things Olympics, “Keep the Flame Alive.” For example: “Sustainability is a huge buzzword now for this whole Olympics,” she says.

And so is style — because, well, Paris.

“You always want to represent your country, and you want to represent the athletes. But it seems like this time, the pressure to do it well has been turned up a notch,” Brown says.

Some emerging details on various uniform designs:

Canada: A focus on inclusivity, adaptability

During the design process, the team from Lululemon, outfitting Canada’s athletes for the second time, says they listened carefully to the athletes, and how they felt in the clothes. “When you feel your best, you perform your best,” says Audrey Reilly, creative director for Team Canada at the athletic apparel company.

She recalls listening to Alison Levine, a Paralympian who uses a wheelchair, and learning the athlete had nothing suitable to train in — so she wore medical scrubs.

“I was shocked that a professional athlete had to do that,” Reilly said in an interview. So we said, “Let’s investigate.” One result was a “seated carpenter pant,” part of a collection intended to be inclusive and adaptable. Other features include special closures to facilitate putting on and taking off garments, and pockets at the knees so an athlete like Levine can access her phone when training.

The collection covers all aspects of Team Canada’s journey, from travel to the games, to opening and medal ceremonies, to training — everything except competition. To combat the expected searing Paris heat, Lululemon, which has a four-Games deal with the team, paid special attention to ventilation and wicking.

And for opening ceremonies, designers created what they call a “tapestry of pride.” Hand-drawn and engineered into the fabric, it includes 10 animals — nine representing the provinces of Canada and one representing France. “We wanted to evoke all of Canada, coast to coast and north to south,” Reilly says.

Haiti: “They know their bodies are a flag”

Stella Jean is used to designing beautiful clothes. But beauty for beauty’s sake was not a consideration in her designs for Haiti’s team. It was all about the message.

“This will be the first good news coming out of Haiti in at least the last three years,” she says, the athletes’ appearance a counter-message to news about political turmoil, poverty or natural disasters. “So, I felt the responsibility to say as much as I can about the country.”

For that, Jean is collaborating with Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, whose vibrant painting will be incorporated into the ceremonial uniforms — a brightly hued skirt for women and pants for men, paired with traditional items like a chambray shirt. The designs have been constructed from “leftover” fabric — sustainability, yes, but not because it is trendy, says Jean, but because in Haiti it’s both a tradition and a necessity.

Jean calls the Haitian athletes “ambassadors.”

“These ambassadors will be there, in Paris,” she says, “and they all know, even if they are very, very young, how important their presence is — and that it’s not just about performance. They know their bodies are a flag.”

USA: “Nothing says America like blue jeans”

For the last summer games in steamy Tokyo, Ralph Lauren outfitted athletes with something cool — literally — a technology that directed heat away through a fan device at the back of the neck.

For steamy Paris, he’s introducing another type of cool: good old American jeans.

“Nothing says America like blue jeans, especially when we’re in Paris,” said David Lauren, the label’s chief branding and innovation officer and the founder’s son, upon revealing the design in June.

For its ninth turn dressing Team USA for opening and closing ceremonies, Ralph Lauren says it will be fitting each athlete personally. For the opening ceremony they’ll be wearing tailored navy blazers with blue-and-white striped Oxford shirts — and those blue jeans.

For the closing ceremony, the team will wear white jeans with matching jackets in red, white and blue. Lauren called the closing ceremony looks “more graphic, more fun, a little more exciting.”

India: Mixing old and new

Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani is known for his ability to meld traditional elements with a modern sensibility. And that’s what he and his menswear brand Tasva has tried to do for his country’s Olympic team.

Tahiliani told GQ India that when he began doing research for India’s opening ceremony uniform, he noted a trend of countries incorporating their national flags into the design. So he began working on a design featuring the tricolor hues of saffron, white and green.

For men, Tahiliani began with a kurta, the typical Asian long and loose shirt. He paired that with a bundi, or traditional sleeveless jacket. He told the magazine he wears a bundi every day, inspired by his father, who was an admiral in the Indian navy.

After feedback from the Olympic committee, the designer moved away from a uniform-like look for women, opting for a sari, which he says “can flatter any body type, and that’s exactly what we want for our female athletes.”

All the designs incorporate embroidery of saffron and green. “The goal is to create outfits that empower our athletes to represent India with pride and confidence,” Tahiliani said.

Italy: A mix of elegance and tradition

Italian athletes will be elegantly attired in Emporio Armani uniforms, as they have for every Olympics since 2012.

The podium tracksuit is emblazoned with “W Italia,” shorthand for “Eviva Italia,” or, “Long live Italy.” The motto could extend to designer Giorgio Armani himself, who turned 90 on July 11.

“Seeking new solutions for the athlete’s kit, which must blend elegance with practicality, is always an exciting challenge for me,″ Armani said last year when the national kit was presented at the Spring-Summer 2024 runway show for the youthful and sporty Emporio Armani brand.

The athletes’ tracksuits are in Armani blue, which has long been the color of the designer’s daily uniform, either as a T-shirt or fine pullover.

Athletes will have no excuse for not knowing the national anthem: the beginning is printed inside the collar of the polo shirts, and the entire first verse is inside the jackets.

Britain: Four nations, not one

The 60-year old British clothing brand Ben Sherman, known for its menswear, is creating Britain’s Olympic uniforms for the third time, and this year wants to remind the world that Britain is four nations, not one.

Its design for the opening and closing ceremonies “represents the unity and diversity of the UK, reflecting the rich tapestry of our nation’s identity.” says the label’s creative director, Mark Williams.

Williams described in an email his new four-nation floral motif, featuring a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock, serving as “a nod to the unique identities and histories of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.”

Williams stresses the motif is not purely decorative, but meant to send a message of collaboration and unity. His floral motif appears is in colors of blue and red — on polo shirts, worn with a bomber jacket, and also on colorful socks, in a collaboration with the Happy Socks brand.

South Korea: Inspiration from a national symbol

South Korea’s athletes will sport uniforms inspired by the country’s national “taegeuk” circular symbol, which occupies the center of its flag. The red-and-blue circle connotes harmony between the negative cosmic forces of the blue portion and the positive cosmic forces of the red.

The motifs on the North Face-branded uniforms also include one of the four black trigrams (groups of bars) from the flag’s corners, according to Youngone Outdoor Co., an official partner of the country’s Olympic committee which produces and distributes North Face clothing in South Korea. The trigram being used symbolizes water.

A uniform for medal ceremonies features a jacket depicting the indigo blue waters off the country’s east coast in an ink-wash painting style, a red belt and black pants, Youngone says.

Team Korea’s uniform for opening and closing ceremonies was designed by Musinsa Standard, a private-label brand run by South Korean online fashion store Musinsa. The all-light blue uniform includes a blazer, its lining engraved with traditional white and blue porcelain designs, a traditional-style belt and slacks.