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How Senators beat the odds and refused to quit against Maple Leafs
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European Team of the Week: Ilkay Gundogan and Lionel Messi join hat-trick hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
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Every week we pick 22 of the best performing players in Europe’s top five leagues and, with your help, narrow it down to the best XI. Using polls on our Instagram stories, we pit players in each position against each other and let you decide who deserves to make the cut. Follow our Instagram page to get involved. Here’s what our latest European Team of the Week looks like: GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) Earned his 12th clean sheet of the season and Villa a point in difficult circumstances. Brighton were well on top and exerted pressure on his goal, but a stunning nine saves kept them at bay. RB: Matthew Lowton (Burnley) Undoubtedly his best performances of the season, excelling at both ends of the pitch. Lowton made three tackles, three interceptions and five clearances in a fine defensive display but really caught the eye in attack with three key passes and one outstanding volley to score at the end of a superb run. CB: Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina) Solid at the back and certainly didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. Stood out with 11 defensive actions in a 2-1 defeat to Sampdoria, including five interceptions and he even managed to hit the woodwork at the other end. CB: Diego Carlos (Sevilla) A rock at the back as Sevilla secured a 1-0 victory at home to Huesca. Made a staggering 11 clearances in the process and was good on the ball, boasting a success rate of 92.7 per cent. LB: Ola Aina (Fulham) Perfect ball across for Josh Maja to score the first goal at the end of a fluid Fulham attack. He put in a shift in defence as well. No one made more than his five clearances during the 2-0 win over Everton. CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City) The Premier League’s Player of the Month continued in his rich vein of form. He was excellent in midfield and tormented Tottenham with his well-timed runs forward, bagging a brace. He sat Davinson Sanchez down before slotting home for his second goal. CM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) Dictated the tempo of the game with his exceptional distribution. The German played 107 passes at 94.4-per-cent accuracy. He picked up an assist for the opener and then passed the ball into the back of the net with ease to get himself on the score sheet as well. CM: Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) Took his goal superbly, showing great strength to hold off the defender before checking back onto his weaker right foot and dispatching the finish with aplomb. He posed a constant threat with a game-high five shots in the 2-1 win at Villarreal. FW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Vintage Messi, skipping past challenges and scoring from range. He hammered in his first in emphatic fashion, but his second was a thing of beauty, curling a sublime effort into the corner from the edge of the box with minimal back-lift. He even bagged an assist, by setting up Trincao. FW: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) Reached 300 goals for club and country by scoring a brace in a 3-1 win over Lazio that fired Inter to the top of Serie A. He made no mistake from the spot and then took advantage of some suspect defending for his second. He then showed immense pace and power to assist Lautaro Martinez on the break. FW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) Scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds and even hit the woodwork. He cut in expertly to score the opener, converted a penalty and then headed home Emile Smith-Rowe’s cross. Know more about Sport360 Application
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Serie A Team of the Week: Lukaku lays waste to Lazio
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Romelu Lukaku leads the Serie A Team of the Week following his excellent performance for Inter at home to Lazio.Antonio Conte's men secured a vital 3-1 home victory which allowed them to leapfrog Milan into top spot in the table and into pole position to claim the Scudetto.Lukaku (8.4) played a part in all three goals, initially scoring from the penalty spot before earning his second with a flashed right-footed snapshot past the goalkeeper from the edge of the box which was only given after VAR Intervened.His best moment of the match was arguably his assist, though, as he showed devastating pace, power, and determination to barge down the right wing, leaving Marco Parolo for dead before setting up Lautaro Martinez for a tap in.Lorenzo Insigne (7.4) and Domenico Berardi (7.9) join the big Belgian in the front three after scoring for Napoli and Sassuolo respectively. The Napoli man converted from the penalty spot as the Partenopei defeated Juventus 1-0.Another Sassuolo player features in our XI in Manuel Locatelli (7.6), who completed 88/96 attempted passes and had more touches of the ball than any other player in this round of fixtures with 125.Jordan Veretout (7.8) scored two goals from midfield as Roma beat Udinese 3-0 with relative comfort.Making up the midfield three is Fiorentina's Erick Pulgar (7.7), who won an impressive 11/15 duels, albeit in defeat against Sampdoria.One of the most surprising results of the weekend saw Spezia defeat league leaders Milan 2-0. Simone Bastoni (7.7) scored one of the goals and slots in at left-back.Gianluca Mancini (8.1) and veteran defender Kamil Glik (8.0) feature in the centre of our defence.Berat Djimsiti (7.8) had 108 touches of the ball and completed 83/94 attempted passes for Atalanta.Napoli understandably had to weather a storm of sorts against Juve, but had Alex Meret (8.2) in goal to rely on as he made six saves to earn his clean sheet bonus.Serie A TEAM OF THE WEEK .
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WPT GTO Trainer Hands of the Week: Battling the Big Blind
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February 16 2021 LearnWPT With a 100 big blind effective stack, you open-raise to 3bbs in the Cutoff seat and get called by the player in the Big Blind. This scenario shows a common spot where you are in position against a tough opponent in the Big Blind on the flop after you were the preflop aggressor. Against a less-skilled opponent automatically c-betting a standard size is often the best play. These types of opponents are less likely to put pressure on your c-bets by making moves on the flop. Against tougher players you’ll need to focus on board texture to determine the best continuation bet sizing and identify flops where checking behind will be the best play. Generally you can use smaller c-bet sizes on dry, static flops that don’t have many equity changing turn cards. For example, larger c-bet sizing is not required on a flop of rainbow. On more coordinated boards that still favor you as the raiser, such as with a flush draw, you can use a larger c-bet sizing. Tough opponents will have robust check-raising ranges as part of their overall Big Blind Defense strategy, so be aware of not over folding hands with too much equity when your c-bet gets check-raised. You will often be put to tough decisions with marginal hands, with the correct decision often coming down to understanding the effects of blockers. If you hold cards that interfere with your opponent’s ability to have strong hands, you should be more likely to call down in the hand. If your cards interfere with their ability to have bluffs, you should be more likely to fold. For more GTO hand analysis, you can play through five solved random hands from this situation. To access the free five hands, visit this page. Regular play on the WPT GTO Trainer will help you adjust your decisions closer and closer to GTO strategy. You don’t have to be the world’s best player to use GTO Strategy, and thanks to the WPT GTO Trainer, now you don’t have to buy expensive software or have expert level knowledge to study GTO. Why use the WPT GTO Trainer? The WPT GTO Trainer lets you play real solved hands against a perfect opponent in a wide variety of postflop scenarios for cash game and tournament play. If your goal is to be a tough poker player then you should try the WPT GTO Trainer today. Register a free account here (it only takes your e-mail address to begin) to play hands and see true GTO strategy in real-time. The WPT GTO Trainer has over 4 billion unique solved flops, turns and rivers that are fully playable. As you make decisions in a hand, you receive instant feedback on the specific EV loss (if any) and Played Percentage for every action you take as compared to GTO strategy. The full selection of scenarios for the WPT GTO Trainer are only available to members of LearnWPT, however we’re giving PokerNews Readers free access to the Trainer on a regular basis with the WPT GTO Hands of The Week. Use this series of articles to practice the strategies you learn on LearnWPT (or at the table) and test your progress by playing a five-hand sample each week.
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Jalen Green leads Ignite to 4-0 start in NBA G League
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Team Ignite’s Jalen Green. G LEAGUE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Jalen Green sustained his torrid start to lead Team Ignite’s comeback win over the Iowa Wolves, 97-90, in the NBA G League Tuesday at AdventHealth Arena in Florida. The 6-foot-6 Fil-American fired a career-high 22 points as Ignite stretched its unbeaten run to four games. He has now scored at least 20 points for the third straight game. Green, who also collected six rebounds and five assists, capped off his solid outing with a layup for a 96-90 lead with 12.2 seconds left. #GLeagueIgnite remains undefeated at 4-0 take a look inside its hot start as told by head coach Brian Shaw pic.twitter.com/MVggNlGLR7 — NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 16, 2021 Ignite trailed by as many as 11 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 25-7 run to take control of the game. Donta Hall added 12 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks for Ignite, which still awaits the arrival of Filipino center Kai Sotto. UNCERTAIN However, coach Brian Shaw said he doesn’t have a say yet on whether Sotto will be able to play right away when he returns. “That’ll be something that will be determined by the people that are above my paygrade,” said Shaw during a media availability. Sotto came back to the Philippines hoping to suit up for the national team in the third and final window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha this month. But the tournament was postponed again with the Philippines back as the host. The 7-foot-3 Sotto is expected to rejoin Ignite in the G League’s bio-secure facility in Orlando as soon as he clears strict quarantine measures. Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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Daniil Medvedev Finds Another Way of Playing Professional Tennis
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At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.
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PSL remains ‘strong,’ in talks with GMA 7 for broadcast deal
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FILE PHOTO – PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico during the 2020 league opening. TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.net Despite encountering turbulent times, the Philippine Superliga is in the process of engaging a new television partner in GMA 7. PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico announced Tuesday at the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum that league officials look forward to forging an alliance with the Kapuso network since breaking up with TV5 has become inevitable. “We remain as strong as before and even stronger now because the teams that we have are very committed. As we speak today, we are starting negotiations with GMA 7 as our new TV partner,’’ said Juico. Once the deal has been sealed, GMA 7 will air the league’s beach volleyball tournament starting Feb. 26, featuring eight teams in a bubble tournament in Subic Bay, Zambales. Juico said the PSL currently has four teams—Sta. Lucia, F2 Logistics, Chery Tiggo and a guest squad in Petro Gazz—while the league is seeking to add two to three more teams as soon as the GMA 7 partnership has been finalized. He added Generika, Petron and Marinerang Pilipina took a leave from the league and reports have it that Cignal has decided to move ship to the Philippine Volleyball League. “If Cignal is joining the other league, we have no other sensible reason to stay at TV5. We have to adjust to the reality of the situation and the signs of the times,’’ said Juico during the weekly forum backed by Smart, Go For Gold, Milo, San Miguel Corporation, Braska and Pagcor. But while the PVL has gone professional under the supervision of the Games and Amusements Board, the PSL, which decided to move the projected March opening of its indoor volleyball to a later date, has opted to remain non-professional. “Our board, our team owners, the ones who are still with us really want to stay non-professional. We realized that there is really no room for two professional (volleyball) leagues in this country,’’ said Juico. “What good will that do to Philippine sports development? It doesn’t make strategic sense. Why do we have to move up if there is already a (pro) league there? We’ll just stay here where we are happy and have created a niche,’’ added Juico. Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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Thurston weighing up return to Maroons
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Johnathan Thurston says he'll strongly consider joining Queensland's State of Origin coaching staff if offered a role for the 2021 series.The Maroons legend, who made 37 Origin appearances is widely tipped to serve as an assistant under newly appointed Queensland coach Paul Green."Once you're in it it's very consuming, I love the Maroon jersey everything about it, so yeah if I get asked yeah I'd certainly consider it," Thurston said.JT toasts the aggression reignited into Origin: JT's Roast and Toast"I've got to talk to the boss first because four young kids at home, eight, six, four and two this year they are. The eight-year-old is going on 18 so it's tough times for the wife."Thurston and Green combined as captain and coach to deliver the Cowboys' first NRL premiership in 2015 and JT believes his former mentor will make a seamless transition into Origin."There's been a lot of talk about his intensity and things like that, but it's State of Origin, it's the best players you're working with," Thurston said."It's about making sure everyone understands their role in the team and that's what he brought to the Cowboys. "He's one of the best footy brains going round Greeny, so I'm predicting our boys will go back-to-back with him at the helm."  What Origin means to QueenslandersThurston's home town of Townsville will host the first major match of the year when the NRL All Stars game kicks off on Saturday and he's advocating for North Queensland to stage a State of Origin match as well. "Yeah 100 percent. Not only can we hopefully attract an Origin game but hopefully we can attract teams from other codes to come and play because it's a world class stadium it's a world class high performance centre ... so that's what we want."For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
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Meet America’s 63rd National Park
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As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.
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Is Tokyo really ready for the Games?
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More than 11,000 athletes, along with coaches and support staff are likely to set their foot in Tokyo for the most-awaited Olympics in the modern era. With the pandemic situation still not eradicated and vaccines are yet to be rolled out globally, can Tokyo really pull off the coup?International travel has been a hassle in the last twelve months, thanks to the Covid-19 virus. In spite of the lingering hazards, the world of sports has taken giant steps to prevail normalcy. Bio-bubbles have been a constant, with fans allowed with a limit in certain areas, while regular testing has been done before tournaments is the primary way to keep the athletes safe. But, what will happen if an athlete is not allowed to take part in the meet due to prior infection of the Covid-19 virus, even though the tests have turned out negative, or if they are not vaccinated prior to an event.That’s exactly what happened to Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth during the Thailand Open, where he was sent back to India citing his reports were ‘unclear,’ even though it was later found that he had already developed antibodies. It’s horrifying to imagine if the same case persists in an event like the 2021 Tokyo Olympics - with more than 11,000 athletes in the village. How many would be sent back?The Yonex Thailand Open marked the return of top-flight badminton this season, with the ranked shuttlers across the globe setting foot on the same land after almost a year. The Indian contingent, on arriving, went through the mandatory tests, during which Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy were detected positive for Covid-19 and sent to quarantine for the same. Miraculously, Prannoy’s sample later returned a negative result. In fact, both of them tested positive on the PCR test but their antibody IgG was positive - which meant that they were previously affected by the virus but are not carrying it right now. While they were allowed to feature in the Toyota Thailand Open, one of their compatriots - Sai Praneeth was denied the same, even though he encountered a similar situation. Now, that was hard to digest for the then world no. 13.Having already played the first tournament and gearing up for the second in Thailand within a couple of weeks, Praneeth was stunned when the organisers summoned him and said that the ‘report was unclear.’ Any layman would clarify regarding the actual inference, so did the Indian, who was informed that he tested negative for antibodies, implying he still carried the virus within himself. Organisers, not taking any further risk, admitted Praneeth to a quarantine hotel and informed he would be hospitalized if any symptoms occur. Not developing any indications, fresh tests were conducted where it showed that the shuttler had antibodies. Enquiring regarding the previous reports, he was astonished to find that he has antibodies detected in those also. As per the quarantine norms, he stayed at the hotel for a few days and asked to go back home. Praneeth missed a major tournament due to false reports. How can the organisers afford to make such errors, or is it too daunting a task to keep track of multiple reports and results within a small span. Organising an event like the Olympics demands systematic monitoring of the athletes inside the village. Is Tokyo really preparing to shoulder the responsibility?The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is clear with their stance of vaccinating Tokyo-bound athletes before the event kicks-off, which is also backed by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. As per reports, Indian shuttlers (Badminton being a popular sport) are set to receive the vaccine from the next month itself, even though a date has not been announced yet. On the other hand, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suge suggested that the vaccine is a ‘clincher’ and won’t be a requirement. According to him, they ‘will prepare for a safe and secure Olympics without making vaccination a precondition.’ So, on what basis are the countries going to allow their athletes to compete in a meet which involves athletes from all over the world? As alarming as it sounds, we are actually set to compromise the lives of thousands - athletes, coaches, support staff, if proper parameters are not maintained before the games get underway. Apparently, the International Olympic Association (IOA) is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to get all the people associated with the Tokyo Olympics vaccinated in order to save the biggest sports spectacle in the world. But, with the host country not on the same page, there is every possibility that the difference in opinion might cause disruption in the build-up to the Games.Whatever the case, for a magnitude of this level, prerequisite conditions must be chalked out at least months prior to the opening ceremony. It’s quite obvious that the athletes would reside in a bubble, but it must be ensured not a single person is carrying the virus, or else, the consequences have to be suffered. It would be unfortunate if the Tokyo Olympics gets cancelled altogether, but we cannot stage the event even if there’s even the remotest chance of the virus spreading further, a virus which has claimed the lives of millions throughout the world.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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