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Pallister's $2.5M offer to finance 'bubble' not enough – Winnipeg Free Press

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Right when it looked like the Canadian Football League was dead in the water, just days away from a self-imposed deadline to get its act together and no evidence to suggest it would, the league was thrown a bit of a lifeline.

But if Monday’s announcement Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is willing to pledge $2.5 million in government money to bring the CFL’s bubble city to Winnipeg for a shortened 2020 season was meant to provide more answers, it failed miserably. And if creating optimism from what could be a serious jolt to the local economy was the intended outcome — along with some obvious political grandstanding — well, that failed, too.

Province tees up $2.5M in bid to become CFL hub

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<img src="https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/650*433/NEP6481337.jpg" alt="(John Woods / Canadian Press files)

"We invite the CFL to play the 2020 season in our beautiful province," Premier Brian Pallister said in a Monday morning teleconference.

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(John Woods / Canadian Press files)

“We invite the CFL to play the 2020 season in our beautiful province,” Premier Brian Pallister said in a Monday morning teleconference.

Posted: 20/07/2020 12:28 PM

The provincial government wants Winnipeg to be the Canadian Football League’s hub city, should a truncated 2020 season happen, and has offered up $2.5 million in support to sweeten its bid.

“We invite the CFL to play the 2020 season in our beautiful province,” Premier Brian Pallister said at a Monday morning news conference.

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Because after speaking to those closest to the CFL’s return-to-play plan and how it would be executed in Winnipeg, not only are there more questions, but the lack of answers is cause for alarm.

Shortly after news broke that the provincial government was digging deep into its pockets to aid the CFL’s return, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer, took to the podium for his daily COVID-19 press briefing. Predictably, Dr. Roussin had to tackle a number of questions around the hub-city model potentially coming to Winnipeg.

Of the main highlights was this admission: CFL players will not be required to undergo testing prior to arriving in Winnipeg.

That might be fine for the players travelling from nearby provinces, where COVID-19 has been mostly held in check. But it is a major red flag for the hundreds of Americans, many of whom live in states such as Florida and Texas, where the coronavirus has spiralled out of control.

“What they have to do is for a period of time they’re going to be self-isolating and then not being able to have any team events until that period of self-isolation is done and a negative test,” Dr. Roussin said.

How long will each player have to self-isolate? That’s still being worked on. Dr. Roussin wouldn’t even commit to a 14-day period for those arriving from states that have seen record outbreaks in recent weeks.

“We’re still working on some of the details that come with that,” he said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin.

For comparison, in the NHL, which is playing in hub cities in Toronto and Edmonton starting later this month, players must have three negative tests within a seven-day window, and one within 48 hours before heading to their respective bubble.

Further to the point, how does the province — and the Winnipeg Football Club, for that matter — explain their willingness to put fellow Manitobans at risk by putting potentially infected players on the same planes? How hard is it to clear those players first?

Well, money has something to do with that and the CFL just doesn’t have a lot of dough these days. On the topic of money, it will be up to the province to cover the bill for players being tested once the bubble is “secured.”

“What they have to do is for a period of time they’re going to be self-isolating and then not being able to have any team events until that period of self-isolation is done and a negative test.”
— Dr. Brent Roussin

What that means is players will be tested upon arrival and then forced to self-isolate for whatever time the CFL decides. After that, players won’t be tested regularly and only those who display symptoms — because professional athletes are always quick to report their own injuries — will be further tested, all covered by government funds.

Perhaps the most troubling revelation, though, is also the most obvious. That is that the success of safely executing the hub-city model hinges on the full co-operation from players.

Dr. Roussin seemed to think there “is a lot of motivation to keep that bubble very tight,” a theory based strictly on the fact that an outbreak in cases would put the season in serious jeopardy. Clearly, the province’s top doc hasn’t been following the growing frustration among CFL players, some of whom have publicly said they don’t intend to adhere to the strict rules — at least not for the money they’re being offered.

Which brings us to another critical point: the CFL needs more than just a bag of money from the Manitoba government to play in 2020.

What also needs to happen — and what the league hoped to wrap up by July 23 — is to secure a substantial amount of money from the federal government, as well a new collective bargaining agreement for this year and next. That would also include a return-to-play policy for 2020, signed off on by both the CFL and its players.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently submitted a proposal to the federal government for $42.5 million, which came months after an initial request for $150 million, in April, in the event of a cancelled season. No concrete update has been provided since, though sources within the league suggest any, if not all, the money would have to come out of government programs already put in place to help businesses affected by COVID-19.

Simply put, the CFL isn’t going to get a handout.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

Ambrosie has spoke encouragingly about ongoing negotiations with players, including Monday when he told Postmedia “the one thing that gives me optimism is the quality of the discussions we’re having.”

“Can I point to an outcome? No I can’t,” Ambrosie said. “But if you’re asking me, can all this come together, yes it can.”

Ambrosie hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt throughout this process; if anything, he’s been secretive and misleading. So whatever he says publicly should be taken with a grain of salt.

That includes the status of negotiations between the CFL and CFL Player’s Union. Remember, it was only last month that CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay called out Ambrosie for misleading comments regarding the relationship between the two sides. Players are still blasting the commissioner on social media.

Finally, another obstacle, believe it or not, is Winnipeg isn’t the only city bidding for the CFL season. According to Pallister, there are other cities eager to have the bubble in town.

“The opportunity to host the CFL season isn’t something that we want to punt to Saskatchewan or have intercepted by Hamilton,” the premier said.

But unless there are better protocols in place to better protect Manitobans, Winnipeg is better off taking a pass on this.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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Kyle Lowry joining Heat after nine seasons with Raptors – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Raptors star guard Kyle Lowry is headed to the Miami Heat.

Lowry put out a social media post to his more than 907,000 Twitter followers saying “Miami Heat X Kyle Lowry” and “Let’s Goo!!” followed by five fire emojis.

The post came less than 45 minutes after free agency officially kicked off Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Deals will not be considered official until noon Friday, with the Raptors saying they would have nothing to say until then.

Citing a source, The Associated Press reported Lowry had agreed to a three-year deal worth an estimated US$90 million in a sign-and-trade with Toronto that will send veteran point guard Goran Dragic and power forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors. There was no immediate word whether those players will stick in Toronto or head elsewhere in another thread to the deal.

A 15-year NBA veteran, the 35-year-old Lowry has spent the last nine seasons as a Raptor.

Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, the New York Knicks and Philadelphia had been seen as possible suitors come free agency. The debate over Lowry’s future had started prior to the trade deadline but he remained a Raptor, finishing out a difficult 27-45 season played in Tampa due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Lowry was seen as a key player in the free-agent guard sweepstakes, one of the first dominoes to drop and set the stage for future signings.

Several outlets reported that guard/forward Gary Trent Jr., is remaining with the Raptors after agreeing to a $54-million, three-year deal, with the third year a player option. The 22-year-old restricted free agent came to Toronto at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Norm Powell to Portland.

With Lowry’s contract expiring, it was the long goodbye for the star guard. In February, there were reports Lowry — who was in Tampa with the rest of the Raptors due to pandemic-relayed travel restrictions — had put his Toronto home on the market.

Then the March 25 trade deadline came and went.

As free agency approached, the Heat appeared to be making moves to pave the way to acquire Lowry in a sign-and-trade. They picked up the option on Dragic’s $19.4-million contract for the 2021-2022 season, which would help to make the numbers work in a deal.

Lowry is also said to be close to Heat star Jimmy Butler, who reportedly was nearing a contract extension with Miami.

“To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this,” Lowry said in his end-of-season media meeting in May, when asked about what will shape his decision on what’s next. “And also money talks and years talk and all that stuff. Let’s be real.

“I play this game for the love for the game. But at the end of the day I want to make sure my family is still taken care of for generations and for time to come. Even though they are now, I want to continue to be able to do that for my family.”

But the six-time all-star made it clear he is not ready to walk away from the game.

“Until that time comes, I still have a lot more to give, I have a ton of basketball left in me,” he said.

He also made it clear he wanted to play for a contender.

“I want championships, That’s always been the goal. Money comes with that and you get paid, but championships are a big key into why I play this game,” he said.

The Raptors will look to Fred VanVleet to take over as floor general.

Toronto drafted guard Malachi Flynn in the first round (29th overall) of the 2020 draft and last week took Canadian Dalano Banton (Nebraska, 46th) and fellow guard David Johnson (Louisville, 47th).

Lowry became the face of the Toronto franchise, a gritty combative guard who helped lead the team to the promised land in 2019 when it dispatched the Golden State Warriors in six games. He has made a career out of proving people wrong.

“I enjoy the challenge of people counting me out, counting the team out,” he said in May.

Scotiabank Arena became Lowry’s house. His two young sons were often in the Raptors dressing room, playing video games or just hanging out with dad.

On the court, Lowry was the Raptors’ conductor.

He averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists a game last season, when he was restricted to 46 games due to injury. Toronto finished out of the playoffs, in 12th spot in the East.

Listed at six foot and 196 pounds, Lowry makes his living in a land of giants. And he is willing to put his body on the line, with a league-leading 166 charges taken over the last five seasons.

Lowry was acquired by Toronto in a July 2012 trade with Houston that sent Gary Forbes and a protected future first-round draft pick (the Rockets eventually moved to the pick to Oklahoma City which used it to select centre Steven Adams) the other way.

“We feel we’ve added a solid starting-calibre point guard to our team who will bring toughness, grit and playmaking at a very important position,” then-Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said at the time. “At (26 years old), I would say Kyle represents what I would characterize as the future of the position.”

He was selected in the first round (24th overall) by Memphis in the 2006 NBA draft. Three years later he was dealt to Houston in a three-team trade that also involved Orlando.

Lowry is Toronto’s franchise leader in triple-doubles (16), three-points goals (1,518), assists (4,277) and steals (873). And with 10,540 points, he ranks second to good friend DeMar DeRozan (13,296) in the Raptors record book.

With 601 games and 20,813 minutes played in Toronto colours, Lowry is also second to DeRozan.

In January 2019, he added to his legacy by joining a select group with 5,000 career assists. Lowry found Serge Ibaka on a pick-and-roll and the big man beat Deandre Ayton to the hoop for a dunk in a 111-109 win over the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s been in the league a long time and he’s had the ball in his hands and got it to a lot of people,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said at the time.” Since I came here five-and-a-half years ago, it was the first thing I noticed — how he’d find the right guys to get the ball to. He really commands the offence and knows where to get it.”

Lowry’s pay was $30.5 million last season. According to HoopsHype, the Villanova University product has earned more than $190 million over his playing career.

Lowry is the latest member of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team to leave the fold. Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Norm Powell and Ibaka are among those who have already moved on.

Toronto Mayor John Tory paid tribute to Lowry, calling him “the greatest Raptor of all time.”

“He showed our city who we want to be. The fighter. The leader,” Tory said in a statement. “The player who’s got your back and leads the charge. Who takes the charge. Who falls down and gets back up. Again and again.”

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Olympic high jumpers overcome with emotion after sharing gold medal – Yahoo Canada Sports

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This is what the Olympics are all about. (Photo by Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

All Olympic athletes arrive at the Games with aspirations to perform their best and hopefully bring home some hardware.

In addition to fierce competition, however, the Olympics are a great platform to show the world the importance of sportsmanship.

On Day 9 of the Tokyo Games, fair play was on full display in the men’s high jump final between Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.

Clearing 2.37m, both competitors successfully arrived at the 2.39m jump without any failed attempts. After Barshim and Tamberi fell short of making the jump three times apiece, an Olympic official approached the two, pitching that they compete in a jump-off to determine the winner.

What happened next, though, was truly a lasting moment of the 2020 Games.

“Can we have two gold?” Barshim asked.

The official green-lighted the request, which sent Barshim and Tamberi into pure euphoria.

“I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it. We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need,” Barshim said, according to CBC.

“He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”

What an amazing moment between two athletes at the absolute peak of their sport.

Belarussian Maksim Nedasekau, who also cleared 2.37, took home bronze via the countback.

The win marked the first gold medals for Barshim and Tamberi at the Olympics, and it created a moment that will last a lifetime.

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Belarusian sprinter 'safe and secure' in Tokyo hotel after plea to IOC for help – CBC.ca

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A Belarusian athlete walked into a Polish Embassy in Japan on Monday, a day after refusing to board a flight at a Tokyo airport that she said she was taken to against her wishes by her team.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, will seek asylum in Poland, said a member of the local Belarus community who was in touch with her.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote on Twitter that Tsimanouskaya has been “offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses.”

An activist group said the sprinter is applying for a visa. Vadim Krivosheyev of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation said the group has bought her a ticket to Warsaw for Aug. 4.

Tsimanouskaya spent the night in an airport hotel after she went to Japanese police at Haneda airport seeking protection late on Sunday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a media conference. A number of agencies were in contact with the sprinter, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he said.

In a brewing diplomatic incident, both Poland and the Czech Republic publicly offered her assistance on Monday.

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“She has assured us she is safe and secure. We are talking again to her this morning to understand what the next steps will be,” Adams said. “We need to listen to her, find out what she wants and support her in her decision.”

The sprinter, who was due to race in the 200-metre heats at Olympic Stadium on Monday, had her Games cut short when she said she was taken to the airport to board a Turkish Airlines flight.

A removal order ‘from above’

She told a Reuters reporter via Telegram that the Belarusian head coach had turned up at her room on Sunday at the athletes village and told her she had to leave.

“The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me,” she wrote in the message. “At 5 [p.m.] they came my room and told me to pack and they took me to the airport.”

But she refused to board the flight, telling Reuters: “I will not return to Belarus.”

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors’ advice about her “emotional, psychological state.”

Belarus athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich told state television he “could see there was something wrong with her … She either secluded herself or didn’t want to talk.”

Tsimanouskaya runs in the women’s 100-metre event at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

The IOC would continue conversations with Tsimanouskaya on Monday and the Olympics governing body had asked for a full report from Belarus’s Olympic committee, Adams said.

In response to a number of questions by journalists about what the IOC would do to ensure other athletes in the village were protected, the IOC spokesperson said they were still collecting details about what exactly occurred.

Earlier seeking asylum in Japan

A member of the local Belarusian community, who had been in contact with the athlete throughout the night, told Reuters that after long talks with various officials she had petitioned for asylum in Japan.

The Japanese government said the athlete had been kept safe while Tokyo 2020 organizers and the IOC checked her intentions.

“Japan is co-ordinating with relevant parties and continue to take appropriate action,” said chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato.

WATCH | Belarusian athlete says she was taken to airport against her will:

Belarusian runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says she was removed from the national team and taken to Tokyo’s airport against her wishes because she criticized national coaches. 2:48

Poland’s Olympic committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said he considered the situation around the Belarusian “scandalous.”

“The Czech Republic is ready to help,” he tweeted. “We are offering her a visa to enter the territory so that she can apply for international protection with us. Our embassy in Tokyo is also ready to help.”

Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to board the plane, first reported by Reuters, highlighted discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state that is run with a tight grip by President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Monday, the IOC spokesperson said it had taken a number of actions against Belarus’s Olympic committee in the run-up to the Games following nationwide protests in the country.

In March, the IOC refused to recognize the election of Lukashenko’s son Viktor as head of the country’s Olympic committee. Both father and son were banned from attending the Games in December.

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