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Sports star’s vaccine hesitancy troubles experts

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German footballer Joshua Kimmich is the latest athlete to express vaccine concerns; his refusal to get the jab is part of a growing problem in the sporting world.

Medical experts have warned of the dangers of vaccine misinformation, after Bayern Munich and Germany national team footballer Joshua Kimmich confirmed he had not received the COVID-19 vaccine over concerns of long-term side-effects.

“I have concerns about the lack of long-term studies,” he told Sky Sport.

Kimmich however confirmed he was not a COVID-19 denier or anti-vaxxer, and was open to receiving the vaccine in the future.

“I am of course aware of my responsibility,” he said.

“There is a very good chance that I will still get vaccinated,”

“It’s simply that I still have some concerns.”

Joshua Kimmich is expected to assume the captaincy role for club and country in coming years.

News of his vaccination status a surprise to many

Kimmich, now 26, has played for his country 64 times, and captained Germany to a 2-1 victory over Romania earlier this month.

He’s been lauded for his leadership and maturity on and off the field, and for his philanthropic efforts during the pandemic. He’s tipped by football experts as a future long-term captain of his club and country.

Along with several of his Bayern teammates, Kimmich last month set up WeKickCorona, an initiative that hopes to support charities and medical facilities in need of assistance in fighting coronavirus.

“That’s not how it works”

German medical experts have been quick to condemn Kimmich’s stance.

Carsten Watzsl, scientific director of the department of immunology at Technical University Dortmund, said it’s a common “misunderstanding” that vaccines could have potential long-term side-effects that appear years after first and second doses.

“Say I let myself get vaccinated and perhaps next year I will have some grave side-effects, that’s not how it works,” he told a German broadcaster.

“The side effects of a vaccine always appear directly after the vaccination, within a few weeks.”

Much like food and medicine, vaccines don’t last long in the body, and immunologists have maintained that the jab performs a “once-off function”, which then degrades in the body over time.

The chair of Germany’s top medical advisory body, Thomas Mertens, said Kimmich was mistaken if he believed there were no designated studies or monitoring programs closely focused on detecting long-term side-effects.

“Joshua Kimmich is certainly a recognised expert on football issues, but not an expert on vaccination,” Mertens added.

Kimmich joins a growing list of vaccine hesitant sportspeople

Vaccinations are not compulsory for English Premier League players, nor those of Germany’s top flight, the Bundesliga, in which Kimmich competes.

But Kimmich’s reputation and role model image on the world football stage means his vaccination status holds much more significance.

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic is perhaps the most prominent example of a sports star who’s turned down the vaccine.

Last year, Djokovic said he was “opposed to vaccination” before a controversial exhibition tour in Serbia and Croatia. The Serbian tennis star and three other players later tested positive for the virus.

He remains steadfast in his view, and his appearance at next month’s Australian Open is far from certain because of this.

West Bromwich Albion and Ireland national team footballer Callum Robinson (pictured above) has caught Covid twice, yet remains unvaccinated.

“That’s my choice at this moment in time,” he said earlier this month.

“Further down the line I could change my mind and want to do it. I think it’s your personal choice and my choice at this moment in time, I haven’t been vaccinated. I wouldn’t force people to do it, it’s your choice and your body.”

Kimmich’s comments come amid rising vaccine cases in Germany, as well as England, where only 68% of Premier League players have been fully vaccinated.

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Simona Halep suffers a panic attack and a loss at French Open

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Two-time grand slam champ is knocked out of the French Open when struck by a panic attack

The Romanian tennis star losses in three sets to 19-year-old Chinese player Qinwen Zheng.

Halep looked comfortable as she cruised through the first set and was up a break in the second.

But Zheng quickly recovered to win the second set and began to dictate the match in the third.

The 2018 French Open champion suddenly called the trainer and asked to have her pulse and blood pressure taken.

After receiving an all clear the 30-year-old continued with the match but looked very uneasy against the Chinese youngster.

She was struggling for breath and had to call for doctors a second time in the third set.

The 19-year-old went on to win the match 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 and advanced into the third round of the championship.

Halep left the court immediately with medical staff before returning to address the media.

She then admitted to having a panic attack during the match which she couldn’t control.

“I didn’t expect [that] because it was just a panic attack,” says Halep.

“I didn’t know how to handle it, because I don’t have it often.”

“I don’t really know why it happened, because I was leading the match. I was playing well. But it just happened. I couldn’t focus.”

Halep is the latest big name to roll out of Roland Garros, with American Danielle Collins also losing on Friday.

This comes as seven top-ten female seeds have now been knocked out of the tournament ahead of round-three.

Danaya Malenda contributed to this report.

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Andy Murray weighs in on the Wimbledon points dispute

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A Wimbledon champion says the tournament “will never feel like an exhibition”, after a decision to remove ranking points

The ATP and WTA recently stripped Wimbledon of ranking points in response to the All England Lawn and Tennis Club’s ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes.

There has been widespread outcry amongst players following the move, with many branding the competition an “exhibition”.

Prominent players including Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic have been critical of the decision.

But Andy Murray has taken to Twitter to defend the legitimacy of the tournament.

The 35-year-old says most people watching on centre court “wouldn’t know or care about how many ranking points a player gets for winning a 3rd round match”.

“But I guarantee they will remember who wins. Wimbledon will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition. The end.”

Andy Murray

Naomi Osaka, speaking on Monday after her loss in the opening round of the French Open, was critical of the decision.

“I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition,” she says.

“Whenever I think something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100 per cent.”

“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing” she adds.

World Number one Novak Djokovic, who called the ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes “crazy”, says he’s “glad” there are consequences for the tournament.

But he remains concerned he will be unable to defend the points he received for winning the championship in 2021.

“On a personal, individual level, I have been very negatively affected by that,” he says.

“It’s hard, really… it’s kind of, I would say, lose-lose situation for everyone.”

Bryan Hoadley contributed to this report

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Chelsea FC $5.33bil bid approved

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A takeover bid for Chelsea football club has been approved by the Premier League

46-year-old American Todd Boehly’s $5.33 U.S. billion dollar deal is given the go-ahead. 

The L.A. Dodgers co-owner heads a multi-billion dollar consortium.

The club came up for grabs when the former owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was sanctioned amid the war in Ukraine. 

A takeover has been hanging in the balance but now Premier League bosses have given their approval to Boehly passing the required owners and directors tests with flying colours. 

However, it’s not signed, sealed and delivered yet the purchase remains subject to U.K. Government approval. 

Regardless, a takeover must go through by May 31 for Chelsea to compete in next season’s Champions League.

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