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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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National taekwondo team prepares for Olympic qualifiers

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(Last Updated On: May 14, 2021)

The Afghan national taekwondo team has been training hard for the Olympic qualifiers ahead of this year’s Games scheduled to take place in Tokyo, say officials from Afghanistan’s Taekwondo Federation.

The 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament for the Tokyo Olympic Games will take place in Amman, Jordan from May 21 to May 22.

Afghan officials are upbeat about the team’s ability to secure a place at the Olympics stating the athletes have been training hard for several months and are in top shape.

With limited facilities, a lack of accommodation, and poor nutrition, the team members are determined to qualify for the Olympics, officials said.

One team member, Farzad Mansouri is undergoing grueling training in a bid to qualify and make history – as he aims for gold in Tokyo.

He has won six gold and three silver medals in domestic and international tournaments and says it is his dream to make it to Tokyo and win gold.

Along with Farzad, three other national taekwondo players have been selected to take part in the qualifying tournament in Jordan. They are Mohsen Rezaei, Somaya Ghulami and Zahra Mirzaei.

For four years these taekwondo athletes have been training under the supervision of Bashir Turki, the national team coach. However, their training regime has been stepped up in the last few months in the lead up to Jordan.

Afghanistan has in the past done well at the Olympics with Ruhollah Nekpa having won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games and bronze again at the 2012 Olympics in London.

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Afghan MMA star selling prized medals to help Barchi and Logar victims

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(Last Updated On: May 12, 2021)

Afghanistan’s world-class MMA fighter Hussain Bakhsh Safari is selling two of his prized gold medals to raise money for the victims of Saturday’s deadly school bombing in Kabul city and the victims of last month’s guest house bombing in Logar province.

Safari said on Wednesday he is auctioning his medals in Dubai to raise money for the treatment of victims in the two attacks.

The Afghan MMA fighter has been ranked the best in the world by the Ju-Jitsu International Federation in the field of full contact jujitsu for two years in a row.

“I call on national and international businessmen to come and buy these medals so that I can serve my compatriots through the Safari Foundation so that they can be encouraged again and return to their lessons,” Safari said.

He also said that now is not the time for him to showcase his medals.

Saturday’s bombing left 87 people – mostly teenage girls – dead and over 150 wounded after a car bomb, followed by two IEDs, were detonated outside a high school in the Shia community of Dasht-e-Barchi.

The attack sparked an outcry around the world and has caused serious concern among the Hazara minority community in Afghanistan.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Taliban was quick to deny any responsibility.

The Logar bombing happened almost two weeks ago and targeted a guesthouse where many high school students were staying.

At least 30 people were killed in this attack, local officials said, while the ministry of interior’s spokesman Tariq Arian said as many as 90 people were wounded.

No group claimed responsibility for this attack either.

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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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