Canada, Australia pull out of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Athletes and sports bodies have become increasingly vocal after restrictions imposed because of coronavirus trashed competition schedules and often made training for the Olympics impossible — and risky. (AFP)
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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike arrives to hold a press conference about COVID-19 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office. (AFP)
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Updated 23 March 2020

Canada, Australia pull out of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

  • ‘Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games’
  • Canada highlighted the dangers to the broader community as they became the first team to withdraw from the Olympics and Paralympics

TOKYO: Canada pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus fears as Japan’s prime minister Monday admitted a delay may be “inevitable” and the International Olympic Committee said a decision should come within weeks.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) also said it could not assemble a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak and that its athletes should prepare for the Games to be postponed to 2021.

Japanese and Olympic officials had stuck resolutely to the line that the Summer Games will go ahead on time, but criticism from athletes and sports bodies has swelled to a crescendo in recent days.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament that Japan was still committed to a “complete” Games, but added: “If that becomes difficult, in light of considering athletes first, it may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone.”

It was the second major concession in a matter of hours after the IOC said “the scenario of postponement” was one of the options under consideration, with a final decision due within four weeks.

“Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games,” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in an open letter to athletes after emergency talks.

“Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody,” Bach added. “Therefore it is not on our agenda.”

Athletes and sports bodies have become increasingly vocal after restrictions imposed because of COVID-19 trashed competition schedules and often made training impossible — and risky.

Canada highlighted the dangers to the broader community as they became the first team to withdraw from the Olympics and Paralympics, urging a year’s postponement.

“This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health,” the Canadian Olympic Committee said.

“With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training toward these Games.”

Canada’s pull-out came despite the IOC promising to hold “detailed discussions” on the “worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement,” with a decision expected “within the next four weeks.”

AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said the AOC’s executive board had made its decision without waiting for advice from the IOC due to changing circumstances with the pandemic in recent days.

“We’ve had to make a call now because of the situation here in Australia and other parts of the world,” Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

“But the IOC is still working through their final decision-making.”


Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

Updated 13 July 2020

Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

  • Initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal

LAUSANNE: Manchester City will be free to play Champions League football next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted a two-season ban from European competitions imposed by UEFA on Monday.
An initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal.
City were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group, also owned by City owner Sheikh Mansour, to avoid falling foul of financial fair play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The case against City was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.
However, CAS found that “most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB (UEFA Club Financial Control Body) were either not established or time-barred.”
City welcomed the decision that will have huge ramifications on the club’s finances and potentially the future of manager Pep Guardiola and star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisers are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present,” City said in a statement.
“The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
Since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover 12 years ago, City’s fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years among 11 major trophies.
On Saturday, they secured qualification for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 5-0 win at Brighton.
More silverware could come before the end of the season as Guardiola’s side face Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday before restarting their Champions League campaign in August, holding a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.
City’s victory in court will raise fresh questions over how effectively UEFA can police FFP.
But European football’s governing body said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women’s teams, over a three-year period.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and ECA remain committed to its principles.”