News brief

10 May 2020

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Spanish cycling race cuts Portugal from itinerary

MADRID: The Vuelta a Espana organisers said on Saturday that a race already rescheduled and shortened would also now cut its foray into neighbouring Portugal from the 2020 itinerary.

Postponed until Oct 20, the race had already lost three stages in the Netherlands where it had been slated to embark Aug 14 and reduced to just 18 stages instead of 21.

Now the scheduled two-day swing into Portugal for parts of two stages has also been binned, organisers announced with regret on Saturday.

“In a situation as exceptional as the one we are currently living, we have to be flexible and understand these kinds of decisions and changes” declared Javier Guillen, Director of La Vuelta.

“It’s a shame not to be able to visit Portugal in 2020, but we don’t want this flame to be put out: we will keep this relationship alive, we will maintain and develop the links we have formed, so that we may return to this country that has treated us to well,” he added.

The changes mean that stage 15, with its finish-line located between Porto and Matosinhos, as well as stage 16, with its departure from the city of Viseu, are off the route.—AFP


FIH extends Batra’s term as president

NEW DELHI: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has extended the term of its Indian president Narinder Batra because the coronavirus pandemic means no vote can be held.

FIH bosses were to meet in New Delhi in October to elect a president but the global pandemic has forced the postponement of the meeting until at least May next, the FIH said.

“The exact date will be confirmed as soon as possible,” the world body said in a statement.

“Despite the current challenging times for most organisations, FIH has kept working hard to pursue its mission of developing hockey worldwide,” said Batra. “I’m looking forward to the numerous tournaments and competitions ahead of us, which we are preparing with full dedication and passion.”

Batra became FIH president in November 2016. As head of world hockey, chief of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) he has become one of Asia’s most powerful sports leaders.—AFP


Maradona autographs shirt to help poor

BUENOS AIRES: Diego Maradona has lent a hand in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in his hometown by autographing an Argentina national team jersey for a raffle.

The sale raised money for an underprivileged area on the outskirts of Buenos Aires affected by quarantine rules.

“We’re going to get through it,” Maradona wrote on the jersey, a replica of the one he wore when he led his country to victory in the 1986 World Cup.

The jersey was first offered at auction, but is being raffled to those who have given donations in an initiative that has collected hygiene products, masks and around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of food for charity.

“Diego can’t even imagine what he has done for us, it’s priceless. I’ll be grateful to him until the day I die,” said local resident Marta Gutierrez.

In addition to the pandemic, Argentina is facing a serious economic crisis and is in laborious negotiations on debt restructuring with creditors.—AFP


European 2021 equestrian event cancelled

PARIS: European equestrianism on Saturday became the latest sport to adjust its calendar because of the postponement of the Olympics with the announcement that it had cancelled its 2021 eventing championships.

With the Tokyo Games put back to next summer, other sports that had planned major championships for 2021 have been forced to react.

The European equestrian championships were scheduled for Haras du Pin in Normandy from Aug 11 to 15, which meant they were due to start just three days after the rearranged Olympics ends.

The French equestrian federation, which announced the cancellation in a press release, said a postponement had been considered but rejected and, instead, Haras du Pin was “positioning itself for the organisation of the European Eventing Championship in 2023.”

Eventing sees a single rider and mount compete at show-jumping, dressage and cross-country.—AFP


Player, staff member test positive for virus

ANKARA: One Besiktas player and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus three days after the announcement that the Turkish league will resume next month, the club said on Saturday.

League leaders Trabzonspor, champions Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas are among leading clubs which held training sessions this week in small groups in line with guidelines set out by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

Besiktas said all their players and coaching staff had been tested for the virus, adding that the player and staff member who tested positive had begun treatment.

Fenerbahce said on Friday one of their staff members had tested positive for the virus, prompting the club to cancel a scheduled practice session.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2020