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No fans at Tokyo opening ceremony: report

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Spectators are reportedly set to be banned from the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, with only a reduced number of VIPs to be allowed to attend

With less than three weeks to go until the opening ceremony on July 23, case numbers are rising in Tokyo, leading to concerns of a 5th wave.

Japan’s capital has been recording an average of 585.6 daily infections over the past week.

The country’s government will decide this week whether to extent a quasi-state of emergency for Tokyo, which’s due to expire on July 11.

According to local media reports, it’s likely to be extended.

This will require Games’ organisers to rethink attendance limits.

Last month organisers agreed to allow venues to be filled to 50% of capacity, up to 10,000 people.

But officials have recently warned that events may have to be held behind closed doors.

Five-way talks involving Tokyo Olympics organisers and government officials will take place on Thursday.

According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, fans are likely to be banned from the opening ceremony on July 23. But a reduced number of VIPs and Olympic officials will be able to attend.

The newspaper also reports that events at large venues, and ones that take place at night, will be held without spectators.

This is yet to be confirmed, but there are clearly growing concerns over rising virus cases in Tokyo.

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Belarusian sprinter taken to airport to leave Tokyo

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Belarusian athlete is fearing for her safety after criticising her coaches and being ordered to return home early

The 24-year-old sought police protection when arriving at an airport terminal in Japan so she would not have to board the flight back to Belarus.

She was due to compete in the Women’s 200-metre event this week but had complained online about being forced into another race at short notice.

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato

She told the International Olympic Committee that she was “put under pressure to compete” and has asked for urgent assistance.

The IOC says it is seeking clarification from Belarusian officials who earlier said she was removed due to her poor “emotional and physical condition”.

State media has criticised the athlete saying she lacks “team spirit” whilst several other countries including the Czech Republic and Poland have offered her refuge.

It comes as the nation’s leaders cracked down on anti-government protestors, with some national-level athletes stripped of funding, cut from national teams and arrested.

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Politics v sport – F1 drivers speak out against anti-gay laws

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Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have spoken out against Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ+ law

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 27: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and second placed Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion and eight-time winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, posted in support of the country’s LGBTQ+ community ahead of this year’s edition of the race.

https://twitter.com/RacingPrideHQ/status/1420694541980536832

He wrote: “To all in this beautiful country Hungary. Ahead of the Grand Prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the governments’ anti-LGBTQ+ law. It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power suggest such a law.

“Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify. I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever.

“Please show love for those around you because Love will always win. Sending positivity. #lgbtq”

Following suit, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, arrived at the Budapest paddock with a rainbow strip on his trainers.

https://twitter.com/sebvettelnews/status/1420744360585437186

“Everybody’s free to do what they want and exactly that I guess is the point,” Vettel said. “So I find it embarrassing for a country that is in the European Union having to vote or having some laws like this as part of their constitution, whatever,” Vettel said.

“I just think we’ve had so many opportunities to learn in the past and I can’t understand why you’re struggling to see everybody should be free to do what they like, love who they like and it’s along the lines of ‘live and let live’.

“So it’s obviously not for us to make the law, that’s not our role, but I think just to express the support for obviously those who are affected by it.”

Politics vs sport

The law has become a controversial issue within sport.

The country is holding a referendum on a law which includes a ban on the depiction or promotion of homosexuality and gender change to under-18s.

Last month, UEFA refused a request from Munich’s Mayor for a stadium to be lit in rainbow colours ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 clash against Hungary.


UEFA has refused a request from Munich’s Mayor for a stadium to be lit in rainbow colours ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 clash against Hungary.

https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ppjxiaae4v?dnt=1#?secret=vmIxpBbpnw

UEFA says the decision was consistent with being a “politically and religiously neutral organisation”.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said Hungary will hold a referendum on the issue by early 2022 at the latest.

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Manchester United cans friendly match vs Preston

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Manchester United has been forced to cancel their pre-season friendly with Preston North End after a COVID-19 outbreak within the first-team squad.

The Red Devils identified a small number of suspected live cases following the latest round of testing at the club.

A statement issued by United on Thursday said: “Maintaining Covid security is a priority for us.

“Following routine testing of the first team training group today, we have identified a small number of suspected positive cases. This has led to those people isolating, pending further tests.

The statement continues: “As a precautionary measure based on covid protocols, we have taken the difficult decision that we will not now be able to play the friendly match against Preston North End this Saturday.

“We regret the disruption to Preston and disappointment caused to fans. Any Manchester United fans who have purchased tickets for the game will be automatically refunded.

“At this stage, we do not expect further disruption around our forthcoming matches, but we will continue to follow Premier League protocols in this regard.”

The decision to cancel the game with Preston leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with just one more warm-up fixture before the start of the Premier League campaign on August 14.

The cases are a mixture of players and staff, who tested positive with lateral flow tests but will need to take PCR tests to confirm the result.

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  • Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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