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Tokyo 2020 chief Muto doesn't rule out 11th-hour cancellation of Olympic Games – CNBC

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A man walks past a Tokyo 2020 advertising poster at the Shinjuku Metro Station, in Shinjuku area of Tokyo.
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The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Tuesday did not rule out a last-minute cancellation of the Olympics, as more athletes tested positive for COVID-19 and major sponsors ditched plans to attend Friday’s opening ceremony.

Asked at a news conference if the global sporting showpiece might still be cancelled, Toshiro Muto said he would keep an eye on infection numbers and liaise with other organizers if necessary.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” said Muto.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are rising in Tokyo and the Games, postponed last year because of the pandemic, will be held without spectators. Japan this month decided that participants would compete in empty venues to minimize health risks.

There have been 67 cases of COVID-19 infections in Japan among those accredited for the Games since July 1, when many athletes and officials started arriving, organizers said on Tuesday.

Japan, whose vaccination program has lagged that of most other developed nations, has recorded more than 840,000 cases and 15,055 deaths and Games host city Tokyo is experiencing a fresh surge, with 1,387 cases recorded on Tuesday.

Muto, a former top financial bureaucrat with close ties to Japan’s ruling party, is known for his careful choice of words, while officials are facing a domestic public angry about coronavirus restrictions and concerned over a possible spike in cases triggered by Games attendees arriving from abroad.

Organizers, for whom International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said cancelling the event had never been an option, have promised to keep the Games “safe and secure”.

But experts see gaps in an Olympic “bubble” that mandates frequent testing and has been designed to limit participants’ movements.

Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, and that she was aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics,” Hashimoto told the same news conference.

‘Unprecedented challenges’

The first major test of how an Olympics can be held in the midst of a pandemic may well come in the men’s soccer tournament, when Japan face a South Africa side that could struggle to field 11 players due to the coronavirus.

That match is due to take place on Thursday, a day before an opening ceremony that top sponsor Panasonic as well as Fujitsu and NEC Corp will skip. Toyota Motor dropped all TV ads linked to the Games on Monday.

Bach, who Kyodo news agency said would meet Japan’s Emperor Naruhito on Thursday, said on Tuesday organizers could never have imagined the “unprecedented challenges” of bringing the global event to Tokyo, praising the “heroic efforts” of medical personnel and volunteers around the world amid the pandemic.

Two members of Mexico’s Olympic baseball team tested positive for Covid-19 at the team hotel before their departure for Tokyo, the country’s baseball federation said on Tuesday.

The athletes, Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, who tested positive on July 18, have been isolated, as have all team members pending results of more tests, it said.

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the organizers’ bubble system was already “kind of broken.”

“My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

Organizing committee President Hashimoto said members of the public were concerned “because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security is not providing a sense of safety.”

In a poll in the Asahi newspaper, 68% of respondents expressed doubt about the ability of Olympic organizers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they were opposed to the Games going ahead.

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U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy suggests race 'probably not clean' after Russian beats him in 200m backstroke – National Post

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The celebratory mood at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre changed after Murphy relinquished the 200 backstroke crown, as Rylov, who also won the 100, touched first in an Olympic record

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TOKYO – Ryan Murphy lost the second of his Rio backstroke titles to Russian Evgeny Rylov at the 2020 Olympics on Friday and the U.S. swimmer then suggested doping had played a part in his demise as events took an acrimonious turn at the Tokyo pool.

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Another morning of memorable racing saw Tatjana Schoenmaker win the women’s 200m breaststroke in a world record 2:18.95 to deliver South Africa’s first gold medal of the Games, while China won their first men’s swimming gold in Tokyo, Wang Shun coming home first in the 200m medley.

There was no easing up from Australia’s gold medal greedy swimmers, with Emma McKeon winning the women’s 100m freestyle for her country’s sixth Olympic title in the pool.

But the celebratory mood at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre changed after Murphy relinquished the 200 backstroke crown, as Rylov, who also won the 100, touched first in an Olympic record.

“It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year, that I am swimming in a race that’s probably not clean and that is what it is,” Murphy told a reporter in the post-race ‘mixed zone’ after finishing second to the Russian with Britain’s Luke Greenbank taking bronze.

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But at a later news conference the American, who took bronze in the 100m, backed away from any suggestion that his rivals in the race had cheated.

“I need to be clear, I’ve never made… , my intention is not to make any allegations here. Like, congratulations to Luke and Evgeny. They did an incredible job, they’re both very talented swimmers,” he said.

“At the end of the day … I do believe it (doping) is still big in swimming and it is what it is.”

Instead of reliving his thrilling victory at his post-race news conference Evgeny Rylov found himself defending his doping record.
Instead of reliving his thrilling victory at his post-race news conference Evgeny Rylov found himself defending his doping record. Photo by Carl Recine /Reuters

“I always do the doping tests … I would not be able to forgive myself if I had taken something. I don’t know how to react to this. I haven’t been accused of anything,” he said.

The Russian Olympic Committee fired back at Murphy’s comments with a statement of their own.

“Yes, we are here at the Olympic Games. Absolutely by right. Whether someone likes it or not,” the statement said, via The Associated Press.

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“You need to be able to lose. Not everyone has that gift.”

CAST A CLOUD
The exchanges cast a cloud over what had been another excellent session, which began with Africa’s second gold medal of the Games.

Schoenmaker, who had claimed silver in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, powered home to finish 0.97 seconds ahead of American Lilly King, with Annie Lazor of the United States in third.

The 24-year-old’s victory came after Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui’s success in the men’s 400m freestyle on Sunday.

King led until the 150m turn when Schoenmaker went in front and then delivered a powerful final length to smash the world record and grab gold.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Schoenmaker said. “I don’t wish my Olympic dream over, but I am excited to go and celebrate even just being at the Olympics.”

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Australia’s McKeon led at the turn in the 100m free and held off Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey down the final straight to win by 0.31 seconds, with team mate Cate Campbell taking bronze.

“I can’t believe it,” McKeon said. “I can just feel my emotions bubbling up now. I feel like this week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster — just getting up for your races and trying to relax again.”

The 29-year-old Campbell has three gold medals from relays to her name but had been looking for a first individual title to go with her bronze in the 50m freestyle from Beijing.

Although she had to settle for another bronze, Campbell said her tears were of joy.

“Honestly, it means the world to me. It’s been a really long journey to get here. I’m incredibly proud of that performance. These aren’t sad tears at all,” she said.

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Wang overtook American Michael Andrew in the final freestyle leg to win the 200m medley with a time of 1:55 with Britain’s Duncan Scott taking silver and Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches the bronze.

Andrew had led at the final turn but faded to finish fifth, while Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, in his fifth Olympics at the age of 35, had been second at the halfway stage but ended seventh.

Wang said he had taken a more focused approach in Tokyo.

“I was just a kid at the London Olympics and it was easier, more of a fun feeling. When I was in Rio I wanted to compete with my team mates and also get a medal,” he added.

“This time I just wanted to focus on myself.”

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Let’s play ball: An early look inside Rogers Centre ahead of anticipated Blue Jays return – 680 News

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OK, Blue Jays. Let’s play ball.

After well over a year (670 days, to be exact) without baseball – and sports in general – the boys of summer will play in front of fans on Friday night for the first time since September 2019.

It’s been nearly 22 months since avid supporters have been able to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – amid a breakout season – tear the cover of a fastball down the middle at Rogers Centre.

Unless you could catch a game in Dunedin, Fla. or Buffalo, N.Y. to see them, fans haven’t witnessed lefty ace Hyun-Jin Ryu or big free-agent signing George Springer live in a Blue Jays uniform at all.

That’s about to change.

After being approved by the federal government to play home games in Toronto again, 15,000 fans will be allowed into the Rogers Centre starting Friday when the team begins a three-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals.

To say a lot has changed would be an understatement as there will be several public health measures and restrictions in place and moving forward.

680 NEWS was granted an early inside look at the Rogers Centre to see how staff plan to welcome back fans.

Entry to the ballpark:

Blue Jays personnel say it’s all about making fans feel at home and comfortable. Strict mobile ticketing for contact tracing purposes will be applied. Here are some more examples.

  • Symptom screening check
  • Masks must be worn at all times while seated (unless while eating or drinking) and while exploring the concourse.
  • Employees will hand out masks at gates upon entry
  • Physical distances enforced
  • Enhanced cleaning before, during and after games


Per the latest provincial reopening guidelines, 15,000 fans will be the max capacity for now. In contrast, the Rogers Centre can hold upwards of 45,000 fans during ordinary circumstances. Free t-shirts will be given to fans with the date and “Home” written on the front.

There are two types of bowl seating options available for fans: standard or physically distanced. Standard physical distancing measures will also apply.

Bathrooms: 


Officials say bathrooms will be heavily sanitized before and after games. There will be designated entry and exit points designed so attendees can move quickly to avoid crowding. There will also be a max capacity for people using these facilities.

Concessions, water access, and Jays Shop

As much as you may have missed the Blue Jays, we know you have been secretly craving one of those footlong hot dogs. An ice-cold beer? Yeah, we get it.

The Rogers Centre will be completely cashless, meaning it’s debit or credit for you. Health and safety protocols will be enforced at all times, with food cooked fresh and wrapped individually as a result. The concession stands menus have been modified with pre-packaged items to avoid crowding and reduce touch points.

There will be touchless water dispensers scattered across the concourse for easy access.


Eager to buy Blue Jays merchandise to show off your fandom? A Springer jersey? A Vladdy t-shirt? We don’t blame you.

Similarly, the Jays Shop will be completely cashless (debit, credit, gift cards) and operate under regular hours. The store has been closed since November due to the pandemic.

Staff say the store is fully stocked, and there will be a max capacity of 100 people allowed inside. Security will stand outside to count.

Seating and tickets: 

It bears repeating: A mask must be worn at all times, even while seated unless eating or drinking. Fans must remain seated when the game is in action.

As mentioned, there are two types of bowl seating options available for fans: standard or physically distanced. Tickets in the “100L and 200L” infield and TD Clubhouse are standard seating, while those in the 100L and 200L outfield and bases are physically distanced pods of up to four seats.


TD Executive Suites are operating at limited capacity with a minimum of six tickets.

The WestJet Flight Deck will be open for standing room as usual. Although, “pods” of up to six people will be outlined for those wishing to watch part of the game in the outfield, socially distanced.

The team also announced it would host 250 frontline workers in a complimentary seating section for each of the 10 games.

Season ticket holders for 2021 and 2022 gained access to tickets earlier last week.

Tickets for games from Friday to August 8 went on sale to the general public on July 22. Tickets for future games will be announced later to ensure the latest health and safety protocols are in place.

General gameday updates/retractable roof: 

All in all, personnel say their goal is to deliver the ultimate fan experience. President Mark Shapiro said they’re hoping to keep the roof open as often as possible to encourage proper airflow.


Interestingly, officials say that the roof could stay open even with inclement weather. With extreme weather and the roof being fully closed, stadium doors will remain open. A pre-game ceremony will be held on Friday, similar to opening day, and “Home Plate Lady” will deliver the first pitch.

Officials are encouraging fans to arrive at the park no later than 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. As for in-stadium upgrades, personnel say a new field was installed with an improved turf system. An extra pad was placed under the two-tone turf. They also expanded the size of dugouts to create more space.

Rogers is the parent company of 680 NEWS.


With files from 680 NEWS Digital Lead Andrew Osmond

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Canada’s spectrum auction raises record $7.2 billion as firms gear for high-speed internet

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Canada‘s auction of 3500 MHz spectrum, which is key for next generation 5G networks, generated a record C$8.9 billion ($7.2 billion), with the country’s three dominant telecom companies accounting for more than 80% of the amount raised.

Out of 1,504 available licenses, 1,495 were awarded to 15 Canadian companies, including 757 licenses to small and regional providers, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Thursday.

The results would boost competition, he added, a reference to Ottawa’s push to open up a market dominated by BCE Inc, Telus Corp and Rogers Communications Inc, known as the big three.

Canadian consumers have complained of steep wireless bills, which are among the highest in the world, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has asked operators to cut prices by a quarter by 2021.

Preliminary results showed that BCE Inc spent C$2.1 billion, Rogers C$3.3 billion and Telus Corp C$1.9 billion.

The 3500 MHz range airwaves are key to provide 5G wireless services as they carry larger volumes of data over long distances. They also offer faster upload and download speeds and help power everything from smart cities to driverless cars.

Vidéotron, owned by Quebecor Inc, spent C$830 million to expand its geographic footprint in Canada, buying licenses not just in its native Quebec but also in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

The move indicates that Quebecor plans to become a service provider in those areas, said Mark Goldberg, an industry analyst. He noted that the areas where the company did not bid – Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada – both have preexisting strong fourth competitors to the big three.

“They’re prepared to be the fourth service provider… This is showing pretty close to a billion dollars in investment in spectrum,” Goldberg said.

Vidéotron said in a statement that the investment would help the company to “realize its ambition of boosting healthy competition in telecom beyond the borders of Québec.”

Bell, Rogers and Telus said their investments will help to provide reliable 5G services.

The auction, initially set to take place in June 2020 and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closed after eight days and 103 rounds of bidding, the government said.

($1 = 1.2444 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Diane Craft and Richard Pullin)

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