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Beijing marks 100 days to Winter Olympics amid COVID, rights concerns

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

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.

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ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 qualifiers continue

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2022)

The qualification pathway through to the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 resumes next week, with Oman preparing to host the eight-team Asia Division 2 Qualifier across two venues at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground in Al Amerat.

The hosts will welcome young stars from Bahrain, Bhutan, Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand for the eagerly anticipated event which starts on 29 September and features an action-packed schedule of 16 matches over nine days.

The Division 2 Qualifier represents the first step on the qualification pathway to the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024, and the two teams that progress to the final match on 7 October will join already-qualified Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and the UAE in the Asia Qualifier in 2023.

A total of 16 teams will be competing at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

Eleven teams have automatically qualified for the event as the best-placed Full Member nations from the previous event in 2022. These are: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The remaining five spots will be determined through regional qualification pathways, with one team from each region securing a place at the event.

Americas and East Asia-Pacific will each host one qualifying event in 2023, with the winner of each event sealing a spot at the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

The Africa, Asia and Europe regions will each have a two-step qualification structure. These regions will host Division 2 Qualifiers in 2022 to determine the teams that will compete in the second and final qualifying event, the Regional Qualifier.

Only the winning teams from the Regional Qualifiers will qualify to compete at the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup.

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Afghan cricket team heads to UAE for training camp ahead of World Cup

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2022)

The Afghan men’s national cricket team left Kabul on Thursday for the UAE where they will take part in a training camp in preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 next month.

This is the first of two training camps. The next camp will be in Australia, which is the host country of this tournament.

The World Cup will start on October 16 and run through until November 13.

Afghanistan are in Group 1 and begin their campaign on October 22 against England in Perth.

Mohammad Nabi, who led Afghanistan in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2022, takes up the captaincy reins again.

Samiullah Shinwari, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Karim Janat and Noor Ahmad, all of whom were a part of the Asia Cup squad, miss out.

Meanwhile, middle-order batter Darwish Rasooli, all-rounder Qais Ahmad and the right-arm quick Salim Safi have been added to the list.

Twenty year old Safi has secured his maiden international call-up.

Afsar Zazai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rahmat Shah, and Gulbadin Naib have been named as reserves, while the rest of the squad is made up of familiar names.

According to chief selector Noor Malikzai, “the Asia Cup was a very good opportunity for the team to build up things nicely for the much-important global event in Australia.”

“Fortunately, Darwish Rasooli has recovered from injury (broken finger) and we are happy to have him available for the WT20, he has demonstrated good glimpses of him in the previously held Shpageeza Cricket League 2022 and offers an additional batting option to our middle order,” Malikzai said.

“Since the Australian conditions offer further support for the fast bowlers, so we have added Salim Safi, the tall right-arm quick to add further impetus to our bowling department. Overall we have picked our best available players for the event and we are hopeful of them to do well and better represent the country in the mega event,” he said.

For Afghan cricket fans, Ariana Television Network will broadcast the tournament live after having secured exclusive broadcasting rights in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s schedule:

22 October – Afghanistan v England, Perth
26 October – Afghanistan v New Zealand, Melbourne
28 October – Afghanistan v TBA, Melbourne
01 November – Afghanistan v TBA, Brisbane
04 November – Afghanistan v Australia, Adelaide

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Bangladesh A vs Afghanistan A series postponded

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2022)

A scheduled cricket series next month between Afghanistan’s A team and Bangladesh’s A team has been postponed indefinitely.

Along with the young, upcoming players, a few national team players had been selected for the series.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) said on Sunday the decision had been made by Afghanistan.

“This is their internal issue,” Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the BCB’s chief executive officer, told the Bangladeshi media on Sunday.

He said Afghanistan Cricket Board hosts tournaments outside of their home. “So they may have some logistic problems. We are not sure. They said they want to host this series later,” he said.

BCB’s CEO said they are now trying to host a longer version of the series for the Bangladesh A team during the same period.

But he did not reveal details.

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