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Beijing marks 100 days to Winter Olympics amid COVID, rights concerns

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

With 100 days until the start of the Winter Olympics, Beijing is promising a “simple and safe” 2022 Games – although preparations are anything but simple as China readies to host thousands of athletes and personnel as it battles COVID-19 flare-ups, Reuters reported.

Beijing will be the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games, but the 2022 event is shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and calls from human rights groups for a boycott over China’s treatment of Tibet, Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong.

The Games will run Feb. 4 to 20, with all participants subject to daily COVID-19 tests and no international spectators. Unlike this year’s Tokyo Summer Games local spectators will be allowed at events in and around the Chinese capital.

According to the report athletes and other Games-related personnel will be enveloped in a “closed loop” including three clusters of venues – one in downtown Beijing, one in the outskirts near the Great Wall, and one to the northwest of the city, in Hebei province.

Also unlike the Tokyo Games, which were delayed by a year and faced speculation they would be cancelled, there has been little doubt the Beijing Winter Olympics will take place – no matter what – as an increasingly assertive China seizes the opportunity to demonstrate soft power.

Still, the countdown comes as China, with some of the world’s most stringent COVID-19 controls, battles small Delta variant outbreaks. The Beijing and Wuhan marathons were postponed this week, and curbs on travel into the capital were announced due to dozens of daily new cases, read the report.

Restrictions on gatherings and travel have contributed to a lack of the anticipatory buzz that marked Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics – an extravaganza widely seen as China’s global coming-out party.

Since then, China has risen to superpower status, locked in antagonistic competition with the United States and under the increasingly authoritarian leadership of President Xi Jinping, with tightened censorship and suppression of dissent.

During the torch-lighting ceremony in Athens earlier this month, rights activists unfurled a banner reading “No Genocide Games” and waved a Tibetan flag, although the ceremony itself was not interrupted, as had been the case for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Winter Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

Activists and U.N. rights experts have said that at least 1 million Muslims were detained in camps in Xinjiang since 2017. Beijing denies all allegations of abuse of Uyghurs and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism, Reuters reported.

After Boston Celtics centre Enes Kanter posted videos denouncing China’s human rights record last week, his name appeared to be blocked on China’s social media platform Weibo, and his team’s highlights were dropped from a domestic sports platform.

While no country has said its athletes will boycott the Games, European, British and American lawmakers have all voted for their diplomats to do so.

According to the report some facilities built for 2008, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium, will be re-used for 2022. Others have been newly built near the city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, connected to Beijing by high speed rail, with the region’s cold but dry winters requiring the help of artificial snow to cover slopes.

The Games are also set to feature players from North America’s National Hockey League after they skipped the 2018 edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with superstars like Canada’s Sidney Crosby and Russia’s Alexander Ovechkin poised to add star power.

And while Xi has positioned the Games as an opportunity to accelerate development of winter sports, China is not expected to be among the biggest medals winners.

China topped the gold medals table at the 2008 Summer Games and came second at Tokyo, but won just one in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang and finished 14th overall.

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ACB announces Afghan women’s cricket will remain intact

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

Mirwais Ashraf, the newly appointed Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) acting Chairman, said at a meeting with departmental managers that women will continue to play cricket as normal, the ACB said in a statement.

Mirwais Ashraf said that women’s cricket is one of the major requirements of the ICC and they are committed to meeting their obligations.

“Our girls will be playing cricket on the normal basis and we are looking to provide them with their basic needs and all the facilities they need,” he said.

He also said that the ICC requirements are valued by the ACB and they are doing their best to meet them.

He also said that they will work hard to arrange more games for the national teams with other cricket nations.

On internal issues, he said that they will work to solve the problems together. “Every employee must stay committed to the ACB and must strive hard to do well in their own parts”.

ACB’s CEO Naseeb Khan congratulated Mirwais Ashraf on his new post and said this appointment was a good move for the organization.

Naseeb Khan also pointed out they have had lots of effective meetings with various stakeholders in the UAE.

“We have had a productive meeting with the BCCI head Mr. Sourav Ganguly, and also have met officials from other cricketing nations to discuss a lot about having bilateral ties with them,”Khan added.

The departmental managers meanwhile welcomed the appointment of Mirwais Ashraf as the acting chairman of the ACB, assured him off their support and collaboration.

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Messi, Ronaldo and Salah on shortlist for FIFA Best Men’s Player award

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2021)

Paris St Germain forward Lionel Messi, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah are among the 11 players shortlisted for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award, the world governing body said on Monday.

The trio are joined by last year’s winner Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea duo N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema, Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and PSG pair Kylian Mbappe and Neymar complete the list.

Women’s Super League players dominate the women’s award with Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, City duo Lucy Bronze and Ellen White and Chelsea quartet Sam Kerr, Magdalena Eriksson, Pernille Harder and Ji So-yun all in contention, Reuters reported.

Emma Hayes, who led Chelsea to the 2021 Champions League final, is joined on The Best FIFA Women’s Coach shortlist by England manager Sarina Wiegman and Canada coach Beverly Priestman.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte are nominated for the men’s award, along with Germany’s Hansi Flick and Italy coach Roberto Mancini, who led them to the Euro 2020 title.

Liverpool’s Alisson Becker, Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel are among the nominees for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award.

The winners will be announced on January 17.

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Afghanistan’s U19s in Group C of 2022 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup

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(Last Updated On: November 21, 2021)

Afghanistan’s national Under-19 cricket team has secured a spot in the 14th edition of the inaugural ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, which will take place in the Caribbean in January.

According to the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), 16 teams will take place in four groups between January 14 to February 5.

The U19 team will play in Group C against Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea (PNG) and will start their run against Zimbabwe at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex, in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday, January 16.

The team will then lock horns against PNG in their next game on January 18, at the same venue. For their last match in the group stage, against Pakistan, they will play at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad and Tobago.

Afghanistan will also feature in two warm-up games from January 9 to 12, prior to the start of the event, to better prepare for the main matches.

The team is already in training for the event and are currently taking part in a training camp. They played Bangladesh two months ago – five ODIs and one four-day game. They lost the ODIs 3-2 but won the one-off youth test match.

Since their return to Afghanistan, they have taken part in training camps.

The first was held in Kabul and the second is currently underway in Nangarhar.

The camp will continue for another two weeks and the Afghan youths will play five intra-squad games during this time.

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