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Tokyo goes to the polls as pandemic-shadowed Olympics loom

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: July 4, 2021)

Tokyo residents went to the polls on Sunday to pick members of its metropolitan assembly just 19 days before the Olympic Games begin, as surveys showed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was likely to win the vote, Reuters reported.

The capital’s election, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, will have little impact on the long-planned Games, but is important as a bellwether for a lower house election that needs to be held by October.

Suga’s term as party president will expire at the end of September, and a strong showing by his party in the Tokyo poll could help him clinch another term, analysts say. The head of the LDP is virtually assured of being prime minister, given the party’s large majority in parliament, Reuters reported.

“I voted for a candidate who is not LDP, partially because I am against holding the Olympics, though it would be too late to change now,” said a 60-year-old female office worker, who asked not to be identified.

“But my main interest was to pick the candidate who has more pragmatic policy, including environmental actions, rather than the coronavirus or the Olympics,” she said.

Polls close at 8 p.m. (1100 GMT)

A recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed 23% of respondents saying they would vote for LDP candidates, versus 17% for the Tokyo Citizens First party and 8% for the Japanese Communist Party.

The Tokyo Citizens First party wants the Olympics held without spectators and the Japanese Communist Party wants them cancelled. Suga has said he intended to hold the Games but would not hesitate to bar spectators if deemed necessary.

Tokyo Citizens First is now the largest party in the metropolitan assembly with 46 of its 127 seats, followed by the LDP with 25. The regional party formed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike won a landslide victory in the last election in 2017.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year over the virus outbreaks, begins on July 23.

The election also comes during a resurgence of the pandemic in Japan, with Tokyo reporting 716 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, its highest in more than five weeks.

“My focus on this election was the pandemic measures,” a 26-year-old freelance actor, who is deaf, wrote in a note to a reporter outside the polling station. He also asked not to be named.

“I picked the candidate who would take actions to save infected people, as I am afraid of losing my job and my income if I get infected,” he said, declining the name the party. “I don’t care about political parties.”

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Turkey sending 3,000 police to Qatar to help secure World Cup

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2022)

Turkey will send more than 3,000 riot police to Qatar to help secure World Cup stadiums and hotels in a security operation paid for by the competition hosts but under Turkish command, a Turkish Interior Ministry source said.

With a population of less than 3 million – of which just 380,000 are Qatari nationals – Qatar faces a shortage of personnel as it gears up for the month-long FIFA soccer tournament, Reuters reported.

It has turned to Turkey, its closest regional ally, to secure the competition which is expected to attract an unprecedented 1.2 million visitors to the small but wealthy gas-exporting Gulf state.

Under a protocol signed between the two countries and published in Turkey’s official gazette, Ankara will deploy 3,000 riot police and 100 special operations police to Qatar, along with 50 bomb specialists and 80 sniffer dogs and riot dogs.

“During the tournament, Turkish police will only take orders from their Turkish superiors who are serving temporarily in Qatar,” the Turkish source said. “The Qatari side will not be able to give direct orders to the Turkish police.”

“All expenses of the personnel deployed…will be covered by the state of Qatar.”

The source did not specify who would have ultimate oversight of Turkey’s security operation, which will cover the eight stadiums where matches are taking place and hotels where the 32 national soccer squads will stay.

The protocol agreement says Turkey will also send senior staff to head the police teams and “a number of personnel for coordination” as well as one “general coordinator”.

Turkey may not be the only country providing support.

Last month Pakistan’s cabinet approved a draft agreement allowing the government to offer troops for security at the tournament. It did not say how many personnel would be sent, and neither country has said that a final agreement has been reached, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, did not respond to a request for comment.

The first Middle East country to host a World Cup, and the smallest nation to do so, Qatar has no previous experience of hosting international events on such a scale.

Turkey receives tens of millions of tourists annually and has hosted a summit of G20 leaders, Formula One racing and the UEFA Super Cup in recent years, but its security forces have also faced criticism over crackdowns on political protest.

Around 600 people were detained last year during student demonstrations which started at an Istanbul university. Authorities said the protesters violated a ban on public demonstrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, Turkish media reported police in Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir fired water cannon and pepper spray at fans, who threw fireworks at the police.

Turkish police going to Qatar are being taught English and given guidance about what to expect when they arrive in the Gulf state, the Turkish source said.

Nearly 800 Qataris have also been trained by Turkey on issues ranging from “sports safety” to “intervention in social events”, the source added.

Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, stood by its ally when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates boycotted Doha in 2017 – cutting all diplomatic and transport links with their neighbour in a dispute over allegations that it supported terrorism and was cosying up to their foe Iran.

The Gulf states restored relations last year, and Turkey also moved to improve ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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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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