With 100 days until the start of the Winter Olympics, Beijing is promising a “simple and safe” 2022 Games – although preparations are anything but simple as China readies to host thousands of athletes and personnel as it battles COVID-19 flare-ups, Reuters reported.
Beijing will be the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games, but the 2022 event is shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and calls from human rights groups for a boycott over China’s treatment of Tibet, Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong.
The Games will run Feb. 4 to 20, with all participants subject to daily COVID-19 tests and no international spectators. Unlike this year’s Tokyo Summer Games local spectators will be allowed at events in and around the Chinese capital.
According to the report athletes and other Games-related personnel will be enveloped in a “closed loop” including three clusters of venues – one in downtown Beijing, one in the outskirts near the Great Wall, and one to the northwest of the city, in Hebei province.
Also unlike the Tokyo Games, which were delayed by a year and faced speculation they would be cancelled, there has been little doubt the Beijing Winter Olympics will take place – no matter what – as an increasingly assertive China seizes the opportunity to demonstrate soft power.
Still, the countdown comes as China, with some of the world’s most stringent COVID-19 controls, battles small Delta variant outbreaks. The Beijing and Wuhan marathons were postponed this week, and curbs on travel into the capital were announced due to dozens of daily new cases, read the report.
Restrictions on gatherings and travel have contributed to a lack of the anticipatory buzz that marked Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics – an extravaganza widely seen as China’s global coming-out party.
Since then, China has risen to superpower status, locked in antagonistic competition with the United States and under the increasingly authoritarian leadership of President Xi Jinping, with tightened censorship and suppression of dissent.
During the torch-lighting ceremony in Athens earlier this month, rights activists unfurled a banner reading “No Genocide Games” and waved a Tibetan flag, although the ceremony itself was not interrupted, as had been the case for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Winter Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
Activists and U.N. rights experts have said that at least 1 million Muslims were detained in camps in Xinjiang since 2017. Beijing denies all allegations of abuse of Uyghurs and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism, Reuters reported.
After Boston Celtics centre Enes Kanter posted videos denouncing China’s human rights record last week, his name appeared to be blocked on China’s social media platform Weibo, and his team’s highlights were dropped from a domestic sports platform.
While no country has said its athletes will boycott the Games, European, British and American lawmakers have all voted for their diplomats to do so.
According to the report some facilities built for 2008, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium, will be re-used for 2022. Others have been newly built near the city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, connected to Beijing by high speed rail, with the region’s cold but dry winters requiring the help of artificial snow to cover slopes.
The Games are also set to feature players from North America’s National Hockey League after they skipped the 2018 edition in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with superstars like Canada’s Sidney Crosby and Russia’s Alexander Ovechkin poised to add star power.
And while Xi has positioned the Games as an opportunity to accelerate development of winter sports, China is not expected to be among the biggest medals winners.
China topped the gold medals table at the 2008 Summer Games and came second at Tokyo, but won just one in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang and finished 14th overall.
Afghanistan-Pakistan ODI series ‘not possible this year’
Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed again until next year, a Pakistani media outlet reported on Sunday.
The two countries were originally due to play three ODI matches in early September in 2021 in Sri Lanka, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that the Afghanistan Cricket Board had requested the series be postponed.
Pakistan Cricket Board had said both boards would try to reschedule the series in 2022.
This time it has been postponed due to the busy schedule of the Pakistan team, Geo News reported citing unidentified sources.
According to reports, the series will now not be possible until April next year.
ACB announces Shpageeza Cricket League 2022 schedule
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) announced Monday fixtures for the eighth edition of the Shpageeza Cricket League (SCL) 2022, which is scheduled to be held from July 18 to August 5 in Kabul.
Eight star national players will be retained by their SCL teams, including Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah Zadran.
In the players’ draft for the tournament, conducted on June 10, a total of 142 players, national and uncapped, were drafted in five categories by the franchises, now numbering eight after the addition of two new franchises.
The players retained ahead of the draft were Rashid for Band-e-Amir Dragons; Gurbaz for Kabul Eagles, the defending champions; Najibullah Zadran for Speenghar Tigers; Mohammad Shahzad for Mis Ainak Knights; Darwish Rasooli for Amo Sharks and Samiullah Shinwari for Bost Defenders.
Two new teams, Pamir Zalmi and Hindukush Stars, picked Shapoor Zadran and Hamid Hassan as their retained players respectively.
Of these players, Shahzad was retained in the highest category, Icon, as were ten others: Mohammad Nabi (Kabul Eagles), Fazalhaq Farooqi (Bost Defenders), Hashmatullah Shahidi (Pamir Zalmi), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Hindukush Stars), Usman Ghani (Speenghar Tigers), Hazratullah Zazai (Hindukush Stars), Asghar Afghan (Mis Ainak Knights), Karim Janat (Band-e-Amir Dragons), Ihsanullah Janat (Amo Sharks) and Noor Ali Zadran (Pamir Zalmi).
In addition, two players have been drafted in the Diamond category by each franchise, three in Platinum, four in Golden, and six in the Silver category.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board said in a statement that “it’s fine to note that the SCL2022 is expected to be conducted from July 15 to August 2 in Kabul”.
Kabul Eagles beat Mis Ainak Knights in the final the last time the tournament was played, in 2020, making it their second title, after 2016. Mis Ainak Knights and Speenghar Tigers have also each won the tournament twice, while Band-e-Amir Dragons have won it once.
Pakistan take top two spots on latest ICC ODI rankings
Pakistan now boast the two highest-rated ODI batters in the world for the first time after in-form opener Imam-ul-Haq went past India veteran Virat Kohli, to join team-mate Babar Azam at the top of the ICC MRF Tyres Men’s One Day Batter rankings.
Imam scored three half-centuries during Pakistan’s recent ODI series at home against West Indies. His form was duly rewarded as he won the Player of the Series award and made a move on the latest rankings that were released on Wednesday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) reported.
The 26-year-old jumped a massive 20 rating points to move in front of Kohli and now has a career best mark of 815 rating points.
This is still well behind Babar’s mark of 892, with the Pakistan captain maintaining his enormous lead at the head of the ODI batter rankings following his 17th ODI century in the opening match against West Indies.
There was some other minor moves inside the top 10, with Aaron Finch rising a spot to ninth as Australia team-mate David Warner fell to 10th – while England’s Jonny Bairstow dropped two places to eighth and South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen jumped a spot to seventh.
There was more good news for Pakistan on the latest bowler rankings, as tall pacer Shaheen Afridi jumped two places to fourth following his good series with the ball against West Indies.
New Zealand’s Trent Boult remains on top of the bowler rankings, but Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood and Kiwi team-mate Matt Henry are closing in after they jumped one spot to second and third respectively.
England’s Chris Woakes was the man to make way out of the top five as he fell four spots to equal sixth, tied with Mujeeb Ur Rahman after the Afghan spinner rose two places.
The biggest mover on the all-rounder rankings is Oman’s Zeeshan Maqsood, with the leftie jumping 13 places to 10th following a string of impressive performances in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 action.
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