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All Tokyo Olympics Athletes To Get Vaccinated

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The International Olympic Committee is working with the World Health Organisation to get all athletes vaccinated in a bid to save the Tokyo Games according to media reports.

Fast-tracking the COVID-19 vaccines to competitors where national programs are yet to begin is the main priority in the Olympic Committee’s plan, the report said.

Japan’s top government spokesman said Tuesday that the widespread distribution of coronavirus vaccines is not a prerequisite for going ahead with the games.

“We are considering comprehensive measures to hold a safe and secure games, even without making vaccines a condition,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

At a news conference on Jan. 7, Suga said Japan will start coronavirus vaccinations in late February. The atmosphere will change once thorough measures against the virus are taken, he said, showing his expectation that vaccinations could be a game changer.

Vaccinations are slated to begin in Japan by late February, starting with medical workers, followed by people aged 65 or older from late March, then people with pre-existing conditions and those caring for the elderly.

But vaccination programs have only just started in Europe and the United States.

Challenges include vaccine supplies to emerging economies, what to do about Olympic and Paralympic athletes refusing vaccinations and risks associated with adverse effects from vaccines.

In addition, the effectiveness of vaccines against variants of the coronavirus remains unknown.

Japan on Friday dismissed a report claiming officials see cancelling the Tokyo Olympics as inevitable, as heavyweights the United States, Canada and Australia said they were still preparing for the games.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said there was “no truth” to the report in The Times, which quoted an unnamed ruling coalition source as saying “the consensus is that it’s too difficult” to hold the Olympics.

It is the latest report to cast doubt on the troubled 2020 Games, which were postponed over the coronavirus last year but have been hit by a surge in cases and plunging public support.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday insisted he was “determined” to hold the event “as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus.”

Tokyo 2020 organisers said they were “fully focused on hosting the games this summer.”

And the national Olympic committees of the United States, Canada and Australia all said they were preparing to send teams to Japan.

The statements from Canada and Australia contrast with last year, when they withdrew their athletes before officials took the unprecedented decision to postpone.

However, despite denying the British report, Sakai said a decision was looming for Japan.

“At some point in time, we will naturally make a decision as to whether to actually hold it,” he said.

“Until then the Japanese government will do what it needs to do and make progress and prepare for it.”

Concerns have risen as Japan battles a third wave of coronavirus infections, with polls showing around 80% of Japanese oppose hosting the event this year.

The Olympics have never been canceled in peacetime.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said there was “no reason whatsoever” for them not to go ahead on July 23 as scheduled.

“Everybody is really determined to make these Olympic Games,” Bach said in a video message on Friday. “All the prospects are good and we are working hard.”

The World Health Organisation’s emergencies director Michael Ryan said on Friday the Tokyo Olympic Games were still viable, but remained cautious.

“We don’t contribute to the decision-making regarding the holding or not holding of the Olympics,” he said. “The best way we can get to an Olympics is get on top of this disease.”

“I have every confidence in the Japanese people and in their public health and governmental authorities. We all hope in the Olympics but we all recognise that everyone right now is a little afraid, as we enter the New Year, with some uncertainties.

Japan and the IOC took the historic step of postponing the Games last March as COVID-19 spread around the world.

On Friday, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll ruled out another withdrawal, calling reports of the Games’ cancellation “unfounded rumour.”

“The Tokyo Games are on,” he said.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee stopped short of a vote of confidence, but said it remained focused on preparing for the games.

“We have not received any information suggesting the Games will not happen as planned, and our focus remains on the health and preparedness of Team USA athletes ahead of the Games this summer,” the USOPC tweeted.

The chairman of the British Olympic Association, Hugh Robertson, said he believed the games would take place, although with “many fewer spectators in venues.”

“Clearly there is uncertainty around but I am as confident as one can be the games will go ahead in some shape or form,” he said.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said she had no idea where The Times had obtained its information, insisting cancellation had not been discussed.

“We’ve been firmly coordinating with the government, the organising committee and the IOC … and the truth is that there has been no talk of cancellation or postponement,” she told reporters.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said this week that the organising committee is “unwavering” on holding the event this year, but couldn’t rule out staging it without spectators.

But domestically there is rising doubt, with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Thursday calling for the games to be postponed or canceled.

And on Friday, the Tokyo Medical Association called for the event to be held behind closed doors.

“They must give up the idea of having the festivity of the century by inviting people from various countries,” its chairman Haruo Ozaki told local journalists.

“The feasibility of holding it with no spectators should be considered.”

Sebastian Coe, the global president of the games’ showpiece sport, track and field, said such a solution would be acceptable.

“I would love to have fans, noisy and passionate,” Coe told reporters.

“But if the only way we’re able to deliver it is behind closed doors, I think everybody is accepting of that.”

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Malaysian Prince Wants To Buy Valencia Football Club

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Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, crown prince of the oil-rich state of Johor, said Valencia needs someone who is “hungry for success” in a message posted on social media before it was quickly deleted.

The prince’s message has caused a major disruption in the football world prompting speculation of a takeover bid.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a prince,” Tunku Ismail, 36, wrote in a series of Instagram stories, which are no longer available but were posted as screenshots by media.

“I’m not someone who will change your club logo or tradition,” he added.

“What does Valencia need? You need someone who knows about football, hungry for success, passionate, and understand how big Valencia is as a club,” wrote the prince.

Tunku Ismail already owns Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim, who last year won their seventh straight Malaysian league title and inaugurated the 40,000-capacity Sultan Ibraham Stadium.

Lim’s Meriton Holdings bought Valencia FC for 420 million euros in 2014, including 200 million euros to clear the club’s debts.

In the early 2000s Valencia FC won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup, and reached two Champions League finals. They are currently 14th in the league, five points clear of the relegation places.

The club was valued at 408 million euros in a report by global accountancy firm KPMG last year.

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Uganda Faces Ghana in Africa U20 Cup of Nations Finals

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Uganda’s Hippos have qualified for the final of the AFCONU20 tournament after beating Tunisia making it the first time a Ugandan national team is going to play in the final of a CAF tournament since 1978.

The Ugandans thumped Tunisia 4-1 in the AFCON semi-final on Monday night. Uganda will play Ghana in the final on 06/03/2021.

Ghana became the first team to qualify for the AFCONU20 finals after thrashing the Gambia 1-0. Ghana’s Black Satellites have qualified for the AFCONU20 (AYC) finals six times: 1993, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2013 and 2021.

The 1978 African Cup of Nations Final football match took place on 16 March 1978, at the Accra Sports Stadium in Accra, Ghana, to determine the winner of the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana defeated Uganda 2–0 with two goals from Opoku Afriyie to win their third African Cup.

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Manchester City Boss Tactical innovations Defy Convention

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David Moyes has likened Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for his tactical innovations that defy convention.

Blumenthal is famous for coming up with unusual recipes such as bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream and snail porridge, which work despite the ingredients.

West Ham boss Moyes, aiming to end City’s 19-game winning run on Saturday, feels the same about Guardiola. “Pep is the Heston Blumenthal of football,” said Moyes.

Former Barcelona coach Guardiola’s latest move has been to use Joao Cancelo as a full-back and a midfield pivot at the same time, a tactic that has flummoxed a series of opposing managers.

“Blumenthal will do something stupid or outrageous that you would never dream of, like mixing chocolate with eggs and you think ‘that is never going to work, it is not going to taste right or look good’. But it does,” Moyes added.

“Pep does things in football terms which are remarkable, that lots of other people would not have thought of. I hold him in such high esteem. He is innovative and always looking for new ideas. “I get this feeling he is in a think-tank room, thinking about how he can make his players perform better, or where they can receive the ball in space and make it difficult for the opposition.”

In cooking terms, Moyes likens himself to fellow Scot Gordon Ramsay, famous for his fiery temper and choice language: “You know what you are getting there don’t you?”

However, stopping Cancelo is not proving to be a particularly amusing pastime and is causing Moyes to think hard about how to go about getting the kind of positive result that will keep his side in the top four.

“How you deal with it takes up a lot of your thought time,” he said.

“If it is a level playing field, you might say we will take you on and do our own thing. When your players are maybe not at the level of the ones Manchester City have it is a struggle.”

While West Ham travel to Etihad Stadium (kick-off 12.30 GMT) after beating Tottenham on Sunday, Premier League leaders City’s impressive winning run continued with a one-sided Champions League triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday, Following that 2-0 victory, Guardiola said City’s current form and the club’s success since his appointment in 2016 was simply down to the money they had spent.

“We have a lot of money to buy a lot of incredible players,” he said on Wednesday. “Without good quality players we cannot do it.” Returning to the topic in Friday’s press conference, Guardiola reiterated that “the difference is the players” and played down his own influence.

“I would tell you if I believed the reason [for our success] was me,” Guardiola said. “I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I’m so handsome and that’s the reason why. It’s not like that. It’s the players. The big clubs have incredible success and it’s due to the quality of the players, the mentality.”

City, who have won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups under Guardiola, have made several big-money signings during the Spaniard’s tenure – with £65m defender Ruben Dias the most recent arrival in September.

Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones have all also arrived for fees in excess of £50m. “I came here to win in England and we have done it already – but I did it,” Guardiola added. “I came to play in a special way and I did it.

The job is done, but still I have the feeling we can do better. “For a short time, you can do it without top players but sustaining for a long time – in an incredible organisation that supports their manager so the journalists and the players know he will not be sacked – this is so important.

“After that, [you need] top quality players. I never in my 12 years as manager scored a goal. I never saved a penalty. The artists are the players. All we can do is help them, knowing that doing the same, you can lose.”

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