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COVID-19 forces different Super Bowl Sunday for fans

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TAMPA, Fla./LONG BEACH, Calif (Reuters) – Fans hoping to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday will face a much different reality this year, with the novel coronavirus restricting the celebration around one of America’s unofficial holidays.

Those who choose to gather at Super Bowl parties big and small in Tampa and across the country face dire warnings from public health officials to abide by basic health and safety protocols, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 450,000 lives in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance said those who attend large watch parties should avoid “chanting or cheering” and avoid going to the restroom during “high-traffic times.”

For local businesses in Tampa, Florida, meeting the safety standards of the COVID-19 era may mean extra work without the usual super-sized plunder they might have enjoyed with America’s biggest sporting event coming to town.

“We gotta make sure we’re absolutely… taking precautions to the nines,” said Tom Malloy, 25, the manager of Ducky’s Sports Lounge in Tampa, which plans to host fans for a watch party on Sunday with indoor and outdoor seating and 40 TVs blasting the big game.

“We’re willing as a business to accept any of those additional costs to kind of make people feel safe.”

Malloy said the pandemic has been a learning experience in how to stay up to code with local safety measures while weathering the “hefty, hefty hit” to revenue.

“We’re using Super Bowl as kind of an opportunity to maybe rekindle a relationship with people who have, you know, been out of the bar scene since COVID came,” said Malloy. “Thank God Super Bowl has been helping us out.”

More than 2,500 miles away in Long Beach, California, Legends Sports Bar on bustling 2nd street is gearing up for what is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year.

Normally the large restaurant would be packed with revelers but due to COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining, additional tables have been installed outside facing giant TVs.

“We’re going to go full blast. TVs on, sound on, and just crank it as much as we can,” said manager Daryl Domantay. All of the tables, which are positioned eight feet apart, had already sold out.

He said it will be up to his staff to keep groups from getting too close, which he admitted will be a challenge.

“It’s going to be tough because usually people run up and down, high-fiving each other. Instead they have to stay in their seat unless they are using the restroom.”

But Domantay said he was lucky – similar bars in Los Angeles County that are governed by a different health department are barred from having TVs on at all to discourage large gatherings.

‘COOL IT’

NFL fans planning an all-day extravaganza of food and football at home aren’t immune to the strict precautions, either.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, said this week that the typical house parties of the past should “absolutely not” happen.

“As difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it,” Fauci told “Good Morning America.” https://twitter.com/GMA/status/1356941462802468867

The National Basketball Association (NBA) issued a warning of its own to teams and coaches, according to media reports https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/1358092247896641541, telling them they are barred from attending Super Bowl gatherings outside of their homes.

In host city Tampa, where the 22,000-person attendance cap at Raymond James Stadium has made tickets even harder to come by than usual, residents say they’re cutting back on their traditional gatherings.

“Every year we usually do a big huge party,” said Kevin Schmook, a Tampa resident of 24 years. “We can’t invite all of our friends so we just go to a house where we know people are COVID-safe.”

 

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Tampa and Rory Carroll in Long Beach; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Habs Headlines: The Canadiens defend decision to select Logan Mailloux – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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In today’s links, defending the Mailloux pick, QMJHL leads the charge in Habs draft picks, the Hughes brothers make history, and more.

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Jessica Klimkait wins judo bronze to make Canadian history – CBC.ca

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Having just lost the most devastating match of her career, a semifinal defeat to go for gold in the women’s under-57 kilogram judo event, Canada’s Jessica Klimkait wasn’t sure initially she could step back out on the mat for another match. 

She was heartbroken. The world’s number-one ranked judoka in her weight class, Klimkait imagined a golden moment in Tokyo to end her first Olympic experience.

But there was still a medal up for grabs. It was not the colour Klimkait wanted but it still a chance to step on the podium.

Klimkait cried a bit. She talked to her coach. And then not long after she got back on the mat for her bronze-medal match.

Inside the hallowed Nippon Budokan near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Klimkait showed resilience, power and poise to battle back and win bronze for Canada.

WATCH | Klimkait makes Canadian history, captures Olympic bronze:

Bring on the cheers

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont., becomes first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in judo as she defeats Slovenia’s Kaja Kajzer to win the bronze medal. 10:34

“Right now I’m going to be emotional about missing that gold medal but I think looking back I’m going to be proud of myself because the last two or three years have been extremely hard,” Klimkait said. 

She defeated Slovenian Kaja Kajzer to become the first Canadian woman to land on the Olympic judo podium.

Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova won gold, while France’s Cysique won second. Japan’s Tsukasa Yoshina also won bronze as they award two third-place finishes in judo.

WATCH | Klimkait steps to the podium for her historic medal:

Jessica Klimkait receives the first ever Olympic medal to be awarded to a Canadian woman in judo. 1:14

It’s Canada’s first medal in judo since the 2012 Olympics.  

“I came here with gold in mind. That was the goal for me,” she said, fighting back tears.  

“At the end of the day I’m just happy I was able to collect myself after that loss and come away with a medal.”

Stunning loss in semis

But about an hour earlier Klimkait’s Olympic gold medal dreams were dashed by France’s Sarah Léonie Cysique.

The referee handed Klimkait a third shido, or penalty, after a failed attack. That gave Cysique a stunning win.

“I’m a really offensive player. The only solution that I had was that I was trying to attack. I kept trying to attack. Some of them were not as great as they could have been,” Klimkait conceded. 

Klimkait, 24, had to battle through four matches on Monday to secure the bronze, including the demoralizing semifinal.

“I just used all my mental strength that I could and kept it about trying to perform in the bronze medal match despite my emotions and some physical fatigue,” she said.

WATCH | Klimkait reflects on her historic medal for Canada:

Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont., discusses her victory in the women’s under-57 kilogram judo event. 1:24

Klimkait, from Whitby, Ont., has been carving a new path in the sport for Canada over the past number of years, alongside world No. 2, Canadian Christa Deguchi. 

But it wasn’t a completely smooth journey for Klimkait in becoming Olympic champion.

Just before the pandemic hit in March 2020 and COVID-19 shut down sports around the world, Klimkait and Deguchi were months away from a fight-off for Canada’s lone Olympic quota spot, and then Klimkait suffered a knee injury.

The pandemic pause was a blessing for Klimkait as she was able to rest and recover. She told CBC Sports that if she wouldn’t have gotten the time off, she wouldn’t have been able to train properly and would have lost the fight-off – that would have ended her Olympic dream.

WATCH | Sport Explainer – Judo:

Need a refresher on judo? Get to know the sport before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 2:23

With only one Olympic spot available per country per event in judo, it had been decided that whoever of the two finished higher at the 2021 worlds would get Canada’s 57kg berth.

In early June, Klimkait defeated Momo Tamaoki of Japan by waza-ari in the world final, becoming Canada’s second world champion in the sport after Deguchi won in 2019.

Klimkait won the world championship and booked her ticket to Tokyo. Deguchi finished fourth. 

“The last two or three years have been really uncertain for me in trying to qualify for the Olympics,” Klimkait said. 

“I had to tuck the dream of the Olympics away and try to get better at judo for a while. I just did my best to be the best player I could and hoped that would be enough for qualification.”

WATCH | Klimkait wins judo world championship gold, qualifies for Tokyo:

Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont. became only the second Canadian to win a judo world championship title, defeating Momo Tamaoki of Japan in the women’s under-57 kilogram final in Budapest, while also earning the right to represent Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. 11:39

It was somewhat of a full-circle moment for the Canadian judo program – Canada’s first judo medal was won inside the same Budokan venue at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo by Doug Rogers, taking the heavyweight silver. 

It would take two decades before Canada would win another judo medal, as Mark Berger won heavyweight bronze at the 1984 Games.

Bronze medallist Canada’s Jessica Klimkait celebrates during the medal ceremony for the judo women’s -57kg contest at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on Monday. (Franck Fire/AFP via Getty Images)

Coming into these Games in Tokyo, Canada had won two silver medals and three bronze medals.

Canada hadn’t won an Olympic medal in judo for nine years. 

But Klimkait has ended the drought in the same place judo became an Olympic sport. 

“That’s been a goal and dream of mine not only to attend the Olympic Games but to be on the podium. Obviously the highest step on the podium would have been preferred,” she said.

“I still wanted to feel that pride even if it wasn’t gold.”

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Habs draft pick Logan Mailloux’s sharing of intimate photo raises questions about accountability, experts say – The Globe and Mail

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With the 31st pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected Logan Mailloux on July 23, 2021.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

The decision by the Montreal Canadiens to select a junior hockey player who shared explicit images without his sexual partner’s consent – and had asked not to be picked while he works on improving his character – has provoked a backlash inside and outside the hockey world.

The Canadiens used their first pick from among dozens of National Hockey League prospects to take Logan Mailloux, an Ontario defenceman who played in Sweden last season on loan from his Canadian junior team, the London Knights.

Mr. Mailloux, who has turned 18 since the 2020 incident, was playing with SK Lejon in Sweden’s third division last fall when he sent images to teammates of the sexual encounter, along with information that identified his female partner.

He was charged with distributing a sexual photo without consent in Sweden and paid fines amounting to $5,300. When news of the incident broke in North America last week on sports site Daily Faceoff, Mr. Mailloux released a statement asking NHL teams to avoid drafting him. “I don’t feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft,” he said.

The NHL has no mechanism for players to withdraw their candidacy. Mr. Mailloux was passed over by all other NHL teams with picks in the first round before the Canadiens made their choice.

Tara Slone, co-host of the weekly Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sportsnet, said she was disappointed and disgusted by the Canadiens and team general manager Marc Bergevin.

“It’s sort of jaw-dropping. You start thinking things are improving and the needle is moving a little bit, and we take a bunch of steps backward,” Ms. Slone said in an interview. “I quite frankly found it baffling and heartbreaking at the same time. As a woman who works in hockey, I could not comprehend the decision.”

Ms. Slone said many of the men who run hockey “know they can get away with it and hockey trumps everything. It’s consequence-free.”

Elliotte Friedman, Ms. Slone’s Sportsnet colleague, said she was far from alone in her dismay. People around the hockey world, including him, “felt sick to their stomachs” after the pick, he said. “It put a stain on what was a really good week for the sport,” Mr. Friedman said on his podcast. Hockey media stalwarts from TSN, including Craig Button and Bob McKenzie, also expressed shock and dismay.

Farrah Khan, manager of Consent Comes First, a support organization against sexual and gender violence at Ryerson University in Toronto, said the Canadiens showed a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of consent in brushing aside the incident and the player’s wish to be left alone to sort out his issues.

She questioned what the Canadiens have in place to help the player. “We know there’s a problem with misogyny in sports. He is one player of many across sports teams that have caused sexual harm. What are the Canadiens doing concretely to address the issue?” Ms. Khan said.

The Canadiens did not respond to the question Sunday.

Mr. Bergevin, the general manager, justified the choice on the weekend, saying the team would be able to “provide [Mailloux] the tools” to address his behaviour. Assistant general manager Trevor Timmins said Mr. Mailloux meets with “a lady psychiatrist a couple times a week” and will be welcomed to training camp before the next season. The team has a plan, he said.

“We feel he is sincere in his redemption quest,” Mr. Timmins said. “We believe in giving people second chances.”

Mr. Mailloux told reporters Saturday he will try to take advantage of resources offered by the Canadiens. He also said he has apologized several times to his victim. “At this point I hope she knows I am sincere about this. I am really sorry,” he said.

The victim in the case wrote to The Athletic site last week to say Mr. Mailloux’s apology was a three-line text, and she didn’t believe it was sincere. “I do not think that Logan has understood the seriousness of his behaviour,” she said. “All I wanted was a heartfelt apology for his behaviour.”

Ms. Slone of Sportsnet said the Canadiens failed to take the victim into account in their selection. “There isn’t much attention paid to her side.”

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