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Decision on holding delayed Olympic Games ‘could go either way’, says Japan minister | Tokyo Olympics News

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TOKYO: The once-delayed Tokyo Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, a Japanese cabinet minister said on Thursday, saying the host needs to be ready for anything.
“We need to do the best we can to prepare for the Games at this moment, but it could go either way,” Taro Kono, administrative and regulatory reform minister, said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.
A global COVID-19 resurgence, including record infection levels in Japan, has raised fresh doubts about the Games, which were postponed by a year in 2020.
The government on Wednesday expanded its state of emergency well beyond the Tokyo region, and new coronavirus infections in the capital exceeded 1,500 on Thursday, according to public broadcaster NHK.
The Japanese public’s appetite for the sporting extravaganza has waned, with 77% of respondents in a survey this week saying it should be cancelled or postponed. But the Games – and the tourism dollars they bring – are a top priority for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Suga and others have said repeatedly the decision whether to go ahead rests with the International Olympic Committee and that their agreement to continue preparations stands.
“Anything is possible, but as the host of the Games we need to do whatever we can, so that when it’s a Go, we can have a good Olympic Games,” Kono said in some of the strongest comments yet from a government minister about uncertainty over the Games.
“The Olympic Committee must be thinking about Plan B, Plan C. But the situation is not easy.”
The U.S.-educated Kono, a former foreign and defence minister open about his ambition to be premier, is known for his outspoken views.
Suga said on Wednesday he had heard nothing to suggest the Games wouldn’t go ahead and than planning was going “full steam ahead.”
Some overseas sports officials remain upbeat about the prospects, such as Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England, who on Wednesday said he was “hugely confident of the Games going ahead in the summer.”
But even if they open as planned on July 23, organisers may have to limit spectator numbers to guard against infections. Japan would also have to ease strict immigration controls that bar most foreigners from entering the country.
Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Yoshiro Mori this month said a decision should be made in February or March whether the COVID-19 risks have fallen enough to let spectators attend.


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Sindhu and Saina look for better show after listless display in first event of Asia leg | Badminton News

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BANGKOK: Indian shuttlers, including Olympic hopefuls PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, will hope to give a better account of themselves at Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament, starting here on Tuesday, after a lacklustre show last week.
The Indian players seemed to struggle with their fitness as none of them could cross the second round at the Yonex Thailand Open, the first event of the Asia leg here.
Barring Kidambi Srikanth, it was the first tournament for the whole Indian contingent in nearly 10 months.
If Olympic silver medallist Sindhu struggled to keep pace with her first-round opponent Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, London Games bronze winner Saina simply ran out of steam against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the second round.
Among others, world no 13 B Sai Praneeth looked a mismatch against Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen, while former world no 1 Srikanth and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap were either forced to withdraw or retire after suffering calf muscle pulls.
World champion Sindhu, a medal contender at Tokyo Games, has been training at London for last two months and she will be itching to go deep in the draw when she opens against world no 12 Busanan, who had outlasted Saina last week.
Saina, who recently recovered from COVID-19 and had to go through the ordeal of a false positive test last week, will however have an imposing task as she faces fourth seed and home favourite Ratchanok Intanon in the opening round.
Saina, who is currently world no 20, has a 11-5 head-to-head record against Inthanon, a former world champion but the Indian will have to play out of her skin against the Thai star, who had reached the quarterfinals last week.
In the men’s singles, Praneeth will need to find his rhythm when he takes on Daren Liew of Malaysia, while world no 14 Srikanth, who had withdrawn from the second round match after complaining of a calf muscle pull, faces Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin, an opponent he has beaten twice in the past.
Kashyap, who had retired in the decider against Jason Anthony Ho-Shue of Canada last week, will face Denmark’s world no 17 Rasmus Gemke.
HS Prannoy will look to put behind last week’s first-round loss when he takes on the formidable Indonesian Jonatan Christie, who is seeded sixth.
The Verma brothers will also have their task cut out as Sourabh is pitted against fifth seed Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the first round, while Sameer crosses swords with the speedy Malaysian Lee Zii Jia, seeded eighth.
The only silver lining from last week was the performance of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who looked impressive during their win over the South Korean combination of Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung in the opening round.
The duo will open against fellow Indians Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, while Satwik and Ashwini Ponnapa, who had defeated sixth-seeded Indonesians Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emmanuelle Widjaja in a thrilling match just days ago, will take on Danish paring of Niclas Nohr and Amalie Magelund.
Ashwini and N Sikki Reddy will meet the German pairing of Linda Efler and Isabel Herttrich in their opener.


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Test captaincy is Smith’s chance for redemption: Healy | Cricket News

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BRISBANE: Legendary wicketkeeper Ian Healy wants to see former Australia captain Steve Smith return to the top job in Tests and seek “redemption”, saying he has paid a “heavy price for not doing much” during the ball-tampering scandal.
Smith and vice-captain David Warner had resigned in the aftermath of the scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in March 2018 and since then Tim Paine has been at the helm of the Test team.
Aaron Finch has handled the limited-overs leadership.
“In 12 to 18 months from now, I want him to do it, only if he wants to, because it’s a chance for redemption,” Healy told ‘SEN Radio’.
“I want him to lead strongly, become that statesman of the game and put those doubters and haters to bed. I like redemption – he paid a heavy price for not doing much,” he added.
With Paine, at 36, reaching the fag end of his career, a fresh captaincy discussion has started.
“Everyone around the world thinks he scratched the ball. All he was, was a bit of a lazy captain and let things run in his team that he wasn’t aware of,” Healy opined.
Pace ace Pat Cummins has been touted as Australia’s next Test captain following his recent appointment as the sole vice-captain after previously sharing the role with Travis Head.
Healy feels the speedster should be handed the reigns in the white-ball formats to gain experience before potentially leading the Australian Test side.
“I think we should try Pat Cummins in short form games. Give him a taste and get his feedback on how he might cope, that would be a good way to start.”
The last time a speedster captained Australia was Ray Lindwall in a Test against India in 1956.


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Simi Singh on song as Ireland crush UAE to square series | Cricket News

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ABU DHABI: Leinster all-rounder Simi Singh produced a career best one-day international performance with bat and ball to steer Ireland to a crushing 112-run win over United Arab Emirates on Monday which levelled the series at 1-1.
Coming in with Ireland struggling at 99-5, Singh made 54 not out from 57 balls and shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 91 with Curtis Campher who made 56.
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UAE made a good start in the chase to reach Ireland’s 228 with the openers Zawar Farid and Vriitya Aravind adding 46 before off-spinner Singh, in his second over, had Farid caught by Gareth Delany at deep square-leg on the sweep.
Shortly after, Chundangapoyil Rizwan and Aravind both hoiked the 33-year-old spinner down the throat of Craig Young at long-on before Singh had Basil Hameed caught behind by Lorcan Tucker and Muhammad Usman leg before.

Singh, who was born in India but has lived in Ireland since arriving as a student when he was 17, picked up the first five wickets as the hosts crumbled and finished with an astonishing five for 10 from his 10 overs.
It is the second-best performance by an Irish bowler in ODIs after Paul Stirling‘s six for 55 against Afghanistan in 2017.
UAE won the opening encounter on January 8 without vice-captain Chirag Suri and uncapped left-arm spinner Aryan Lakra who both tested positive for coronavirus.
The next two games, in what had been scheduled as a four-match series, were then axed despite a series of attempts to reschedule as the home squad were hit by a wave of Covid-19 positive tests.
After losing the toss and being put in, Ireland made a poor start to their innings as Kashif Daud removed Kevin O’Brien, playing in his 150th ODI, in the second over.
When Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie fell in quick succession to Zahoor Khan, the Irish were in deep trouble at 10-3.
Harry Tector, who made 33, and Tucker, 42, began the rebuilding process before Campher, who was named man of the series, and Singh joined forces in a vital sixth-wicket stand.
Ireland will remain in the UAE to play a three-game ODI series against Afghanistan.



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