Montreal police are defending their decision to launch tear gas on thousands of hockey fans outside the Bell Centre minutes after the Habs’ 3-2 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
It was the second time in less than two weeks that Montreal police officers used tear gas against fans outside the arena without first ordering the crowd to disperse.
“At the end of yesterday night, bottles were thrown and fireworks were set off in the area around the Bell Centre,” police spokesperson Anik de Repentigny wrote in an email Tuesday.
Police took measures to restore order a few minutes after the end of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final, she said in the email.
“The use of chemical irritants was judged necessary to disperse some recalcitrant groups.”
But Vincent Wong, a human rights lawyer and PhD student at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, said one of the biggest problems with the use of tear gas by police is that it’s indiscriminate.
“Tear gas cannot distinguish between the young and the elderly, the healthy and sick, the abled and disabled, and, of course, the peaceful and violent,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Children were seen suffering from the effects of the gas, while spectators leaving the Bell Centre were pepper-sprayed by police on at least one occasion.
Wong, who coauthored a 2020 report on the use of tear gas that was published by the international human rights program at the University of Toronto faculty of law, said police have a responsibility under international law to distinguish between dangerous elements of a crowd and those who are not a threat.
WATCH | Canadiens’ Josh Anderson scores Game 4 winner in OT to extend series:
“If you’re just shooting tear gas canisters into the middle of a crowd, this directly violates and is at odds with this positive duty under international law,” he said.
Montreal police say their presence at gatherings allows people to celebrate while preventing disturbances that could put public safety at risk.
“With this in mind, the SPVM recommends that the public move as far away as possible if there is a disturbance in a crowd. This allows police officers to focus on the disruptive elements,” de Repentigny wrote.
Montreal police have faced criticism for their use of tear gas before.
Last December, Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand introduced a motion calling for tear gas to be withdrawn from the police arsenal. An amended motion passed that called for the city’s public security committee to examine the possibility of removing tear gas from the police service’s arsenal and to make recommendations about its use by officers.
“Tear gas is banned in warfare by conventions that date back to the 1920s but there’s no control of its use over civilians,” Rotrand said in an interview Tuesday.
Montreal police tend to make more use of tear gas than police in other Canadian cities, he said.
“Tear gas is the lazy man’s way to control crowds; the police have all sorts of other options,” Rotrand said. “At the very least, tear gas must only be used in exceptional circumstances — crowd control in front of a hockey arena is not one of those.”
Wong said the onus should be on police to de-escalate situations. The use of tear gas and shows of force by police can antagonize crowds, he said. “Often it creates the absolute reverse of what they’re looking for.”
Police said they arrested four people and issued 36 tickets following the Montreal Canadiens’ win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final. A police spokesperson said the arrests were for alleged assaults or armed assaults against police officers.
Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant said officers issued 21 tickets for municipal infractions and 15 for road safety violations. Brabant said there were no injuries reported.
How safe are the Tokyo Olympics from COVID-19? – Al Jazeera English
After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics is finally happening.
But there is little excitement in the Japanese capital, where an estimated 85,000 people – including athletes, officials and reporters – are expected to converge for the global sporting event’s opening ceremony on Friday.
With the world still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic and the Olympic host city in its fourth virus-related state of emergency, a largely unvaccinated Japanese public is worried the Summer Games could turn into a super-spreader event and overwhelm the country’s already strained healthcare system.
Adding to those concerns, at least 91 people accredited to the Olympics have now tested positive for COVID-19, while daily cases in Tokyo are currently at their highest in six months. The Japanese capital logged 1,979 new infections on Thursday.
Public opposition to the Games is so fierce that top corporate sponsor Toyota has pulled Olympic-themed advertisements from Japanese television, while a growing number of politicians and business leaders are shunning the Summer Games opening ceremony. Even Emperor Naruhito is said to be considering omitting the word “celebrating” when he formally declares the sport tournament open on Friday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, insists that the Games – where nearly all spectators, local and foreign, have been banned – will be “safe and secure”.
The for-profit sporting body, which stood to lose $3bn in broadcast rights if the Games were cancelled completely, said 85 percent of all athletes arriving in Japan are either vaccinated or immune and insists that its safety measures mean the athletes are “probably the most controlled population at this point of time anywhere in the world”.
‘Broken’ Olympic bubbles
The IOC’s COVID-19 playbooks state that Olympic visitors must have two negative test results in the 96 hours prior to their arrival in Japan and have another negative result on landing. They must also download location-enabled contact tracing apps on their phones and limit their movements while in the country to specific “bubbles”.
At Tokyo’s Olympic Village, which is hosting about 11,000 people, athletes are sharing rooms, but are undergoing daily coronavirus tests and being asked to wear face masks at all times – except when they are sleeping, eating or competing. Athletes who win gold, silver or bronze will also be asked to place their medals around their own necks, and those who complete their events are required to leave the country within two days of their last event.
Christophe Dubi, executive director at the IOC, described the sporting body’s rules on Sunday as “rigorous”, “thorough” and “very strict”.
“There is no such thing as zero risk,” he told reporters in Tokyo. “At the same time,” he added, “the mingling and crossing of the population is incredibly limited, and we can ensure that transmission between groups is almost impossible.”
Worries, however, are growing in Japan that the IOC’s measures are neither properly enforced nor adequate.
On Monday, the Mainichi newspaperreported “disarray” at airports receiving people accredited to the Olympics, “with some athletes coming close to general travellers and fans asking for autographs”.
The Asahi Shimbun also reported last week that several Olympic delegates stopped to take selfies and fist bump other passengers at the airports, adding that hotels in Tokyo were struggling to monitor the movements of those staying with them. Hotel workers are “exasperated by their supposed roles in maintaining the bubble around Olympic delegations”, the newspaper said, quoting one manager as saying, “It’s not even our job to begin with.”
Kenji Shibuya, a prominent Japanese health expert, said the IOC’s bubble system “seems broken” even before the formal start of the Games.
“The IOC playbooks are not perfect, and many visitors and delegates are not following the guidelines,” said the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London. He warned that the IOC’s inability to monitor the movements of tens of thousands of visitors – combined with the border authorities’ use of antigen tests, which have “a higher probability of false negatives when compared with PCR tests” – could worsen the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant in Japan.
“The fundamental problem has been a lack of open, transparent and scientific discussion on the conditions under which the Olympics could be held in a safe and secure manner,” he said. “Japan is in its fourth state of emergency and the number of cases in Tokyo is increasing. Hospitalisation among those aged between 40 and 50 is also increasing. Globally, the Delta variant is spreading rapidly and the vaccine rollout is limited in many countries, including Japan – this is obviously not the right time to hold the Olympics.”
A majority of the Japanese public agree with that sentiment, while a staggering 68 percent of people surveyed by the Asahi Shimbun earlier this week also said they did not believe the Games could be held safely.
Annie Sparrow, assistant professor of health science and policy at the US-based Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said the IOC could have avoided the “debacle now unfolding at the Tokyo Olympics” if it had listened to expert advice.
Sparrow, who reviewed the IOC’s playbooks in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said the organisation settled for “cheap measures that don’t work rather than scientifically proven ways that do”. What the IOC recommends is based on an outdated understanding of how COVID-19 spreads, she said – that the illness is transmitted only by large droplets that fall to earth quickly rather than small particles that linger and spread in the air.
The IOC and local organisers must immediately set in place measures that limit aerosol transmission, including placing hospital-grade air filters or “HEPA filters in every hotel room, every venue, every transport vehicle, every cafeteria and every shared space”, she said.
Athletes must also be housed in single rooms and given proper face masks.
“Face coverings won’t protect them,” she said, adding that athletes should use filtering facepiece respirators, such as the N95 respirators, while in close-contact settings such as transport vehicles.
“Test everyone, not just the athletes, everyone in the village,” she said, expressing concern about what she called inadequate protections for Olympic workers. “And vaccinate all of the workers, all the volunteers, all the officials.”
What also worries Sparrow is that the Olympics could become a mega-spreader event globally. The IOC and local organisers must “do real-time genomic testing so athletes don’t unwittingly take a variant home to unvaccinated unprotected populations with variable or marginal healthcare infrastructure,” she said.
Less than 24 hours remain for the Summer Games opening ceremony, but many in Japan say it is still not too late to call the event off.
“There’s no way to hold an event like this safely,” said Satoko Itani, associate professor at Kansai University in Japan.
“The IOC had one year to prepare, they failed. So, cancellation is the safest way to go.”
She added, “People’s lives are on the line. And as a host country, our utmost responsibility is to protect people’s lives. At this point, the best we can do is to cancel this Olympics as soon as possible.”
Montreal Canadiens' Shea Weber out next season, career may be over, GM says – ESPN
Bergevin said on a video conference Thursday that Weber is dealing with a number of injuries, including to his foot, ankle and knee.
Weber, 35, was a stalwart on Montreal’s blue line last season, guiding the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to Tampa Bay in five games.
Bergevin said it will be impossible for the Canadiens to replace Weber, but the club will look to fill his minutes through trades, free agency and existing players.
“We’ll try our best, but I know deep down that we can never replace Shea Weber,” the general manager said.
Bergevin added that he recently had an “emotional, deep conversation” with Weber.
“It was hard for Shea,” Bergevin said. “That’s all he knows. He’s a hockey player to the core. It’s really hit hard to realize that he can no longer perform the way he’s expecting for him and for his teammates, and the pain he’s in going through daily.”
Weber has 224 goals and 365 assists in 1,038 regular-season games with Nashville and Montreal, and has 18 goals and 24 assists in 97 playoff appearances.
Last season, he had six goals and 13 assists in 48 regular-season games and a goal and five assists in 22 playoff games.
Dater's Daily: NHL trade freeze lifts, Hall stays with Bruins, NHL schedule out today – Colorado Hockey Now
Good Thursday to you all. Just dropped my 17-year-old, 6-foot-7 son at the airport for a trip back east to visit his grandparents. The kid will see his first Red Sox game ever next week, and he’s pretty excited about that. For him, showing excitement is moving his upper lip a little. Let’s do that hockey, though, starting with some NHL trade freeze talk:
- The freeze lifts at 11 a.m. mountain today. Saddle up, kids, it could be a busy day. Hey, it could be for the Avs too, though I think the main focus of the team remains trying to sign their unsigned guys. I have NOT been told of any talks breaking off between the team and Landeskog or Grubauer. I don’t think much has gone on between the Avs and Brandon Saad, but maybe that will change now that the Avs have more money to spend after losing more than $7 million of payroll in the last few days, with the departures of Joonas Donskoi and Ryan Graves.
- The Kraken seem pretty happy with their new roster (Seattle Times)
- I thought the Kraken getting Jamie Oleksiak from Dallas was a great signing. He’s big and plays with a mean streak.
- The Kraken’s first home and road sweaters look pretty cool (Seattle Times)
- Did the Pittsburgh Penguins screw up over the expansion process? Dan Kingerski thinks so (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
- Looks like Taylor Hall is staying put in Boston (Boston Hockey Now)
- Jack Eichel continues to be the conversation starter of the offseason as the Wild and Avalanche are mentioned as possibilities for the Sabres superstar. (Hockey News)
- Who would the Avs trade to the Sabres for a Jack Eichel? I would imagine it would have to start with a Bo Byram. Or, maybe Sam Girard.
- With the loss of Donskoi, I expect Sampo Ranta to get quite a chance as a middle six right winger at training camp.
- The Avalanche/NHL schedule will be out today.
- The Red Wings were the only team that didn’t leak the name of their player picked by Seattle (Detroit Hockey Now)
- Mark Giordano, former Norris Trophy winner, was claimed by the Kraken, but is he really headed to the New York Rangers now? (NY Post)
How safe are the Tokyo Olympics from COVID-19? – Al Jazeera English
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