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‘Heartbreaking’: Afghan Paralympic athletes to miss Tokyo 2020 – Al Jazeera English

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Zakia Khudadadi, stuck in Kabul, would have been the first woman to represent Afghanistan at a Paralympic Games at Tokyo.

Zakia Khudadadi would have been the first woman to represent Afghanistan at a Paralympic Games when they start in Tokyo this month, but her dream has been shattered amid the country’s turmoil.

Just two Paralympic athletes from Afghanistan were scheduled to compete in the Games set to commence on August 24 – taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli.

Khudadadi, 23, was to be the first woman ever to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics.

But the International Paralympics Committee confirmed on Monday that, with the Taliban takeover, the two athletes would no longer be able to travel to Japan.

“Regrettably, NPC (National Paralympic Committee) Afghanistan will no longer participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence said.

“Due to the serious ongoing situation in the country, all airports are closed and there is no way for them to travel to Tokyo.”

There was no word on whether the IPC had been asked to try to assist team members, or was making efforts to do so.

US forces have taken over air traffic control at Kabul airport, where five died on Monday in chaotic scenes with reports of firing in the air and a stampede.

Taliban fighters have overrun major cities and now control most of Afghanistan. The group was overthrown in 2001, but has made sweeping military gains in recent months as foreign forces, led by the United States, withdrew.

The Afghanistan Paralympic Committee’s London-based Chef de Mission Arian Sadiqi told the Reuters news agency he had been due to fly to Japan on Monday while the team – Khudadadi and Rasouli – had been scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on August 17.

Taekwondo athlete Khudadadi was profiled on the Paralympic website last week talking about her hopes for the Games.

“I was thrilled after I received the news that I have got a wild card to compete at the Games,” said the 23-year-old from Herat.

“This is the first time that a female athlete will be representing Afghanistan at the Games and I’m so happy,” she had said then.

Sadiqi said the athletes had been trying to secure flights, but prices soared as the Taliban took over a string of cities.

Then it became impossible.

“They were really excited prior to the situation. They were training wherever they could, in the parks and back gardens,” he said.

Future for Afghan sport looks bleak

Afghan athletes first competed at the 1996 Paralympic Games but have never won a medal.

Rohullah Nikpai became Afghanistan’s first Olympic medallist in any sport when he won bronze in taekwondo at the 2008 Beijing Games, repeating the feat at London 2012.

Sadiqi said the future for Afghan athletes looked bleak, if the past was anything to go by.

“There was a lot of progress, both in the Olympics and the Paralympics,” he said of recent decades. “At the national level, there was a lot of participants, a lot of athletes … but we can only predict from what happened in the past.

“Previously during the Taliban era, people couldn’t compete, couldn’t participate, especially female athletes.

“For me, it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “This would have been the first female Afghan taekwondo player to take part. This was history in the making. She was excited to take part. She was very passionate to compete.

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Elks name Cornelius as starting QB for injured Harris – TSN

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Taylor Cornelius will get the starting nod at quarterback when the Edmonton Elks face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

The 26-year-old quarterback has not taken any snaps for the Elks this season, but has three carries and rushed for two yards in five games played.

Cornelius previously played for the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL where he threw for 858 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions in five games played.

The Amarillo, TX native will be replacing starting quarterback Trevor Harris, who was placed on the six-injured list after sustaining a neck injury during September 11th loss against the Calgary Stampeders.

Harris has thrown for 1481 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions over five games this season.

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Patrick Kane says he didn’t know in 2010 about assault allegations – Sportsnet.ca

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Editor’s note: The following story contains references to sexual assault which may be distressing. Please exercise discretion before reading.

CHICAGO — Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said Friday he has participated in the investigation into allegations that a then-assistant coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010, adding that he did not know anything happened at the time.

“Obviously very serious allegations, and everyone knows that,” Kane said at the annual NHL/NHLPA preseason player media tour. “But I will say that I didn’t know anything about it at the time and did participate with the investigation.”

Kane’s comments were his first since the allegations came to light. The Blackhawks launched the investigation led by a former federal prosecutor and pledged to release the findings.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion said he also was unaware of homophobic bullying of one of his former teammates that ensued.

“Obviously disturbing,” Kane said. “You never want to hear that type of stuff. I feel for (someone making) those type of allegations. And hopefully it didn’t affect the player too much. But I’m sure when you’re hearing that type of stuff, obviously it could affect you deep down.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press the Blackhawks investigation was proceeding but did not have a timeframe for when it would be completed. The team pledged to release the findings of the investigation, a decision the league supports.

“We probably would have supported the decision if it was different, if it was made for the right reasons,” Daly said. “Since these allegations arose, I think the Blackhawks as an organization have handled everything in the right way and they’ve taken the proper steps. We’ll see at the end of the day what comes of it.”

Two lawsuits were filed against the team earlier this year. The first alleges sexual assault by trainer Bradley Aldrich during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup title, and the second was filed by a former student whom Aldrich was later convicted of assaulting in Michigan.

According to reports, two Blackhawks players told then-skills coach Paul Vincent in May 2010 of inappropriate behaviour by Aldrich. Vincent said he asked mental skills coach James Gary to follow up with the players and management.

Vincent was called into a meeting with then-team President John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, hockey executive Al MacIsaac and Gary the next day. He said he asked the team to report the allegations to Chicago police, and the request was denied.

In an email to the AP earlier this summer, Vincent said he stands by everything he said.

Bowman and former coach Joel Quenneville, who’s now with Florida, have said they would cooperate with the investigation.

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Blue Jays right-hander Berrios won’t miss any time after abdominal scare – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios is feeling fine after leaving his last outing with an abdominal injury and will make his next start Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, manager Charlie Montoyo said before Friday’s series opener.

Berrios pulled himself out of a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday after seven innings.

Ace left-hander Robbie Ray will start Monday’s series opener in Tampa against the Rays before Alek Manoah gets the call on Tuesday as the team elects to give the rookie some extra rest.

Manoah’s last start was this past Monday in an 8-1 win over Tampa.

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