G20 National Olympic Committees virtual conference opens

G20 National Olympic Committees virtual conference opens
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal will chair the summit-level meeting in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Updated 17 November 2020

G20 National Olympic Committees virtual conference opens

G20 National Olympic Committees virtual conference opens
  • The conference will discuss opportunities and challenges facing the Olympic movement and the global sports sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

JEDDAH: The conference of National Olympic Committees (NOC) of the G20 countries will take place in Riyadh on Tuesday with the support of the Saudi Secretariat of the G20 and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal will chair the summit-level meeting dubbed “The Olympic movement during and after the COVID-19 pandemic” as part of a program of international conferences held on the sidelines of the Saudi presidency of the G20 this year.

The conference will discuss opportunities and challenges facing the Olympic movement and the global sports sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference also aims to shed light on the important role that the movement plays in helping the international community to recover socially, economically and healthwise from the pandemic.

Leading the keynote speakers at the virtual conference is the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, as honorary chair of the conference. Other speakers are IOC board member, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud; member of the board of directors of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Momii Keiko; president of the Italian Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malago; Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO); Robin Mitchell, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees; Witold Banka, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); James Macleod, director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations; chairman of the Y20 Youth Engagement Group, Othman Al-Muammar; and vice president of the U20 Urban Community Engagement Group, Hussam Al-Qurashi.

The Saudi Olympic committee invited all National Olympic Committees of the G20 countries, in addition to the NOCs of countries invited for the G20 summit — UAE, Jordan, Spain, Rwanda, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam. Representatives from WHO, international federations and continental Olympic committees will also attend.


Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool
Updated 17 January 2021

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool

Manchester United face acid test of title credentials at Liverpool
  • Jurgen Klopp’s men could drop to fifth place on Sunday if results go against them

LONDON: Liverpool and Manchester United face off on Sunday as the Premier League’s top two teams for the first time since 1997 — with the rivalry between England’s most successful clubs rekindled by a fascinating title race.

United top the table after the New Year for the first time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 thanks to an 11-match unbeaten run to take them past Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool have surrendered top spot after three league games without a win and could drop to fifth place on Sunday if results go against them.

The last time United and Liverpool locked horns in a title race was 12 years ago.

Back then United were hardened winners under Ferguson, who saw off Rafael Benitez’s challengers to win a third consecutive league title.

Now it is United who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits are the “hunters” chasing the champions.

Ferguson, who arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 with United firmly in Liverpool’s shadow, once famously said his goal was to knock them “off their perch” and he went on to win 13 league titles.

But United have been displaced as top dogs even in their own city by Manchester City.

And fans have been forced to watch Klopp spearhead another era of glory at Anfield, winning the Champions League in 2019 before ending the club’s 30-year wait for a league title last season — putting them just one behind United’s record tally of 20.

But, in a strange and at times soulless season in empty stadiums, the relentless consistency shown by Liverpool in recent
years has dropped off.

Hampered by a series of injuries, most notably to talismanic center-back Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have already dropped more points in 17 games than they have in either of the past two seasons.

That has allowed United to overtake them despite a slow start to their own campaign.

Solskjaer’s men won just two of their opening six games, suffering a humiliating 6-1 reverse at the hands of Tottenham at Old Trafford.

But, on the road, United’s form has been remarkably consistent. Come Sunday, it will be almost a year to the day since they last lost an away game in domestic competition — on their last visit
to Anfield.

Since then Bruno Fernandes’ arrival has helped transform United’s fortunes. On Friday, the Portugal playmaker won his fourth Premier League player-of-the-month award in 2020 by picking up the prize for December.

“Unfortunately a good signing for United,” said Klopp.

“He is a very influential player for United obviously, involved in a lot of things.

“I know people talk mostly about the goal involvements, which is very important stuff, but he is a link-up in a lot of other situations as well.”

Without the silverware on his CV to rival Klopp or City boss Pep Guardiola, Solskjaer’s credentials for one of the biggest jobs in football are questioned every time he has a couple of bad results.

But the Norwegian has guided United into a position his more storied predecessors, Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, could not manage.

“The last few years, there have been two teams running away with it already by the end of October,” said Solskjaer.

“Now, at least, we’re in it at half-way. We’re a much better side now than a year ago.”

Questions remain over whether United’s revival is for real or another false dawn, of which there have been several in the post-Ferguson era.

Liverpool’s three-decade drought without a league title stands as a warning of how far even giants can fall.

One of Klopp’s first iconic phrases when taking charge in 2015 was his ambition to change the fatalism around the club’s mentality from “doubter to believer.”

Should United become the first visiting side to win at Anfield in the league for nearly four years, it is they who will have the new-found confidence that a 21st league title in 2021 is possible.