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Afghan women’s cricket team set to start training this month

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2020)

The Afghan women’s cricket team, which was officially relaunched last month, is scheduled to have their first overseas training camp later this month, likely in a Gulf country.

The aim of this is to prepare them for their first international match early next year, Reuters reported.

This comes after the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) recently reformed the women’s squad, and awarded contracts to 25 players following trials at the Kabul Stadium.

While Afghanistan’s men’s cricket team has enjoyed a series of successes over the past few years, the national women’s team was quietly disbanded just a few years after it was formed in 2010, amid fears over safety.

The women’s team, which is set to soon start training under an international coach, still face plenty of hurdles in a country where many men are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of their sisters and daughters competing in public, Reuters reported.

Even within the ACB, not everyone thinks a women’s team is a good idea, players and officials told the Reuters.

Security is a major concern, with foreign forces due to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban, Reuters stated.

The Taliban, which banned girls from being educated when they ruled Afghanistan, now control wide areas of the country and there has been an uptick in attacks on prominent women.

No direct threats against the cricketers have been made, but officials at the ACB said recent attacks including a deadly assault last month on the Kabul University campus had raised fears.

Announcing the formation of the squad last month, the ACB stressed it was “adhering to the traditional Afghan and Islamic values” and would hold its first training camp in an Islamic country.

Chairman Farhan Yusefzai told Reuters he was aware of opposition on the board to setting up a women’s team, but insisted he would not be deterred.

“Many Muslim countries have their national women’s teams,” he said, citing Pakistan, Kuwait and Oman.

“Here in Afghanistan, we have the national football team, volleyball teams, swimming team, so why not cricket,” he said, crediting the women players with “overwhelming” talent and enthusiasm for the game.

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Japan’s anti-Olympics campaign gains traction as pandemic simmers

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(Last Updated On: May 9, 2021)

More than 230,000 people have signed a Japanese petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled in the two days since it was launched online, as public concerns mount over holding the showpiece event during a pandemic, Reuters reported.

With 11 weeks to go before the start of the Games, already postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus, questions remain over how Tokyo can host the global gathering while keeping volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe from COVID-19.

Organised by Kenji Utsunomiya, a lawyer who has run several times for Tokyo governor, the “Stop Tokyo Olympics” petition has gathered more than 230,000 signatures.

“Japanese people tend to not voice our opinions but there are many people now speaking up. Together with voices from overseas, I hope the Olympics will be cancelled for now,” he told Reuters.

Games organisers and the Japanese government have repeatedly said the event needs to go ahead, in part as a symbol of the world’s triumph over the pandemic, and detailed COVID-19 protocols have been unveiled for participants.

But with a fourth wave heaping pressure on Japan’s medical system amid a sluggish vaccination rate, Utsunomiya said he had received a call from an exhausted hospital worker on Friday morning, thanking him for pushing back against the Games, Reuters reported.

Opinion polls have found a majority of the Japanese public is opposed to the Games, which are due to open on July 23 and many in Tokyo were on Friday sceptical about whether they should go ahead, and wary about foreign visitors.

“It’s absurd that we are holding the Olympics under the COVID pandemic,” Katsumi Abiko, the 79-year-old owner of a kimono shop, told Reuters.

“If we make the decision now to cancel it, Japan will be praised for making the right decision and be remembered by history.”

The government has extended a state of emergency in the capital and three other areas until the end of May.

Several other Tokyo residents shared Abiko’s concerns, including 84-year-old Yoshihiro Nagao, though he believes that, on balance, the Olympics should go ahead.

“It’s safer not to do it, but since we’ve come this far, we all want to work hand in hand and succeed,” he said.

In that spirit of cooperation, Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and its German partner BioNTech SE said on Thursday they had agreed to donate their vaccine to inoculate participants.

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Australian cricketers flee India for Maldives after IPL abandoned

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Australian cricketers playing in this year’s IPL fled COVID-ravaged India for the Maldives Thursday, but New Zealand’s top stars are stuck in Delhi until May 11, the earliest they can secure exemptions to enter England where they are due to play a Test series.

AFP reports that cricket authorities have been rushing to evacuate players and support staff after the Indian Premier League was abandoned this week.

India reported 3,980 deaths and more than 412,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

While most overseas-based players headed home, the Australians, including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, are unable to do so after Canberra closed its borders and threatened anyone entering from India with jail time.

They must wait until at least May 15, when the travel ban will be reviewed.

In the meantime, the 37 players, coaches, officials and TV commentators left for the Maldives, reportedly on a charter flight arranged and paid for by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association can confirm Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators have been safely transported from India and are en route to the Maldives,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

“The Australians will remain in the Maldives until the conclusion of the travel pause pertaining to flights from India to Australia.”

They are likely to be chartered back to Australia once the ban has been lifted, again with the help of the BCCI.

But Chennai Super Kings batting coach Mike Hussey was not among the travelling party, forced to remain in isolation after testing positive to the virus.

Cricket Australia said he was “experiencing mild symptoms” and would remain in the care of the Super Kings until it was safe for him to return to Australia.

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IPL 2021 put on hold after several players test positive for COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: May 4, 2021)

Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been postponed, said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” BCCI said in a statement.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” the statement read.

Two Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) players Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji and a CSK travel team support staff member are among those who have tested positive for the virus, NDTV reported.

As per IPL protocol, CSK squad was put in isolation.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the BCCI statement added.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.

“The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times.”

A total of 29 out of the scheduled 56 league games were played this season – the last match played was between Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals on May 2.

The match on Monday between KKR and Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed after COVID-19 cases were reported among the KKR team members.

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