Relief for Tokyo as first new 2020 Olympic venue opens

Above, the exterior of Musashino Forest Sports Plaza which opened in Tokyo on November 25, 2017. The new facility will host badminton and modern pentathlon fencing during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and wheelchair basketball during the Paralympic Games. (AFP)
Updated 25 November 2017
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Relief for Tokyo as first new 2020 Olympic venue opens

TOKYO: Tokyo opened its first new permanent venue for the 2020 Olympics Saturday in a welcome public relations boost for the organizers after a series of setbacks.
The opening of the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, which will also host badminton and modern pentathlon fencing, offers Tokyo organizers some respite after a disastrous rollout of plans for the 2020 Olympic stadium.
“We are making real progress in our preparations,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters at the venue’s opening ceremony.
“We have passed the 1,000-days-to-go mark and ... intend to build on this momentum and continue the hard work.”
The venue, which will also host wheelchair basketball at the 2020 Paralympics, is the first of eight new permanent venues to be completed.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tore up the blueprints for the new national stadium two years ago amid public anger over its $2 billion (SR7.5 billion) price tag in an embarrassing setback.
That decision deprived the 2019 Rugby World Cup — also hosted by Japan — of its main venue.
Designs for the official Games mascot then had to be scrapped following accusations of plagiarism.
There was more bad news last month when Olympic organizers admitted that prolonged summer rain had brought high levels of bacteria to a venue earmarked for triathlon and open water swimming.
While Tokyo has taken successful measures to slash costs, the International Olympic Committee has urged local organizers to try to further reduce its current $12 billion Games budget, including finding ways to cut services at the athletes’ village.
Tokyo will have a total of 39 venues for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, including 23 existing sites and eight temporary facilities in addition to the eight new permanent ones.


Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

Updated 17 August 2018
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Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”