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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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Afghan women’s soccer team arrives in Pakistan

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s women’s soccer team has arrived in neighbouring Pakistan, the information minister in Islamabad said on Tuesday, as questions linger over the status of female athletes under Islamic Emirate rule.

“We welcome Afghanistan women football team, they arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan,” said Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s information minister, in a Tweet, adding they were received by a representative of the Pakistan Football Federation.

Chaudhry gave no details and it was not immediately clear how many players had entered the country and what their plans were.

An Islamic Emirate official last week told Australian broadcaster SBS that he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket because it was “not necessary” and would be against Islam.

“Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” SBS quoted the deputy head of the Islamic Emirate’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, as saying.

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Fans gear up for start of FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021

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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2021)

With just hours to go for the start of the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ Lithuania 2021, anticipation is building among futsal fans across the world.

Matches will be held at three host arenas across the country – Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda – and fans can follow the tournament on Ariana Television, after Ariana Television Network secured the broadcasting rights.

The first match will be aired on Sunday night on Ariana Television at 9.30pm. This match, as part of the opening ceremony, will see hosts Lithuania take on Venezuela.

Twenty four national teams will take part in the tournament and the final is set to be played at Kaunas Arena on October 3.

Defending champions Argentina will begin their campaign against USA in Vilnius on Tuesday, while record five-time champions Brazil kick off their bid to win a first crown since 2012 against Vietnam in Klaipėda on Monday.

From the other European teams, two-time champions Spain will attempt to bring back the title to Europe for the first time since 2004. They will play their first match in Klaipėda against Paraguay.

Portugal will make their debut against Thailand and the Football Union of Russia will play Egypt in their first match.

Afghanistan’s neighbors Iran and Uzbekistan both secured spots in this year’s tournament.

Iran will face Serbia on Tuesday in their Group F match, while Uzbekistan will face Guatemala in their Group B match on Sunday evening.

Speaking to reporters this week, Uzbekistan’s Dilshod Rakhmatov said their match against Guatemala will be a challenge.

“We have never played against Guatemala and we are unfamiliar with them. As for the other two sides, we have had experiences with Russia and we know their game. Egypt are no strangers for us as we met them in a recent international championship in Thailand (winning 4-0).”

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Nabi to captain T20 World Cup team after Rashid Khan steps down

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2021)

Mohammad Nabi said he has been named Afghanistan skipper for the upcoming T20 World Cup after Rashid Khan unexpectedly stepped down as captain on Thursday.

Rashid issued a statement on Twitter Thursday announcing his decision which he said was in protest against the selection of the national squad that was done without his input.

The all-rounder announced the news minutes after the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) confirmed their World Cup squad.

“The selection committee and ACB has not obtained my consent for the team which has been announced by ACB media,” he said in a statement on social media.

“As the captain and responsible person for the nation I reserve the right to be part of the selection of the team.

“I am taking the decision of stepping down from the role as the captain of Afghanistan T20 side effective immediately,” Rashid stated.

The ACB is yet to officially announce Nabi’s appointment as captain but the 36-year-old all-rounder tweeted that he has been chosen to lead the team.

“At this critical stage, I admire the decision of ACB for the announcement of leading the National Cricket Team in T20 Format,” Nabi said.

“InshaAllah together we will present a great picture of the Nation in the upcoming T20 World Cup,” he added.The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in the UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14.

T20 Squad: Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen ul Haq, Hamid Hassan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Qais Ahmed

Reserves: Afsar Zazai, Farid Ahmed Malik

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