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Tokyo Olympics will be difficult to hold without vaccine, head of Japan Medical Association says – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, April 28, 2020 5:36AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, April 28, 2020 10:32AM EDT

TOKYO — The medical community in Japan is moving toward a consensus that holding next year’s Tokyo Olympics may hinge on finding a coronavirus vaccine.

Japan Medical Association president Yoshitake Yokokura said in a video media conference on Tuesday that the Olympics were possible only if the infections were under control, not only in Japan, but globally.

“In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed,” Yokokura said.

He did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without vaccines.

Japan has reported 13,576 COVID-19 cases, and 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year. On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 389 total deaths from the virus.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo Games until July 23, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections across the country

A Japanese professor of infectious disease said last week he was also skeptical the Olympics could open in 15 months.

“I am very pessimistic about holding the Olympics Games next summer unless you hold the Olympic Games in a totally different structure such as no audience, or a very limited participation,” said Kentaro Iwata, professor of infectious disease at Kobe University.

Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister and now president of the organizing committee, told the newspaper Nikkan Sports there would be no more delays if the games can’t be held in 2021.

“No, in that situation, it will be cancelled,” he said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been cancelled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy.”

Mori added: “This is a gamble for mankind. If the world triumphs over the virus and we can hold the Olympics, then our games will be so many times more valuable than any past Olympics.”

Devi Sridhar, a professor of Global Health at the University of Edinburgh, also said holding the Olympics may depend on finding a vaccine. This could also apply to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in China, where the coronavirus was first detected.

She said a vaccine was “optimistically 12 to 18 months away.”

“Science is just half the battle,” Sridhar said in an email to The Associated Press. “The other half is manufacturing enough doses and getting these into people across the world. How would prioritization be done?”

She asked who would get the vaccine first, health workers, those working with the vulnerable or the elderly, or the elderly themselves. Sridhar said it was unclear how young, strong, Olympic athletes would “fit” into the “priority process.”

“I’m sure there is going to be some innovative thinking about how to combine safety of athletes, their coaches and teams, with the awareness that sports play a crucial role for the world — for economic reasons, but also socially,” she said.

Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics, said he was aware of the comments from the head of the Japan Medical Association.

“We understand there are a variety of insights, opinions around the possibility of hosting the games next year,” Takaya said. “Some medical experts are also expressing that it is too early to made a judgment.”

There will a push from many quarters to hold the Olympics next year — vaccine or no vaccine, fans or no fans.

“This is placing tremendous pressure on all involved to devise an acceptable, rather than optimal solution,” David Carter, who teaches sports business at the University of Southern California, said in an email to the AP. “Add to this the unwavering importance the IOC places on its brand, and the uncertainty in terms of public health and you find yourself with international sports’ version of a Rubik’s cube.”

The International Olympic Committee depends on selling broadcast right for 73% of its income. Another 18% is from sponsors. The IOC has only two major events to sell, and broadcasters don’t pay much of their fee until the Olympics are aired.

Japan has officially spent $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, and a national audit office says the real figure is at last twice that large. Media estimates in Japan say the cost of the delay will be $2 billion to $6 billion.

Add to this 11,000 Olympic athletes, and 4,400 Paralympians. The vast majority get only one shot at the games.

And then there are the sponsors.

Japanese organizers have signed up more than 60, and they have paid about $3.3 billion to be linked to the Olympics. The IOC also had 14 long-term sponsors like Coca-Cola and semiconductor maker Intel, which are reported to pay about $100 million to be linked to the Olympics.

Tokyo has also sold millions of tickets. It’s unclear what will happen if the Olympics are held without fans. The tickets carry a force majeure clause, which may permit organizers to avoid refunds.

Tokyo organizers expected income of $800 million from ticket sales.

“The pandemic is changing sport worldwide,” said Doug Arnot, who has held senior staff or consulting positions with eight Olympic organizing committees.

The Los Angeles-based consultant worked with the Tokyo bid committee, but is no longer involved with Tokyo.

“It will probably have significant impacts on the way we organize events and the way we deliver them. This is not just about Tokyo,” Arnot said. “This is about about the world of mega-events. This virus has changed the way we look at these events. Sport wants to be a responsible member of the world community.”

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Report: NBA to test players every night upon return – TSN

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The National Basketball Players Association informed players on Friday they will work with the NBA to conduct COVID-19 testing every night during the resumed season according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The testing will likely involved mouth swabs or light nasal swabs and not full invasive nasal swabs. Should a player test positive, they will quarantine for a minimum of seven days.

Charania also reports the league does not plan to shut down the season should a player test positive for the coronavirus. Players are expected to stay inside the league’s bubble environment in Orlando, while families are allowed to enter after the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Charania also reports the NBPA has unanimously approved a 22-team return to play format beginning July 31 at Disney World. The news comes one day after the league’s board of governors voted 29-1 to approve the NBA’s summer restart plan.

The league and the union will continue to work though a number of details in the next week on the Orlando resumption.

As for the 2020-21 NBA season, reports from earlier in the week indicated the league was planning on beginning the regular season around the start of December but Charania writes the NBPA believes this to be “unlikely.” Charania adds they plan to negotiate the date.

The league paused its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert was revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19.

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NFL stars send passionate video message to league about racial inequality – CBC.ca

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Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”

The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.

“I AM George Floyd,” Hopkins says.

Adams follows with: “I AM Breonna Taylor.”

The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people…. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting…. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

‘We were wrong,’ says NFL commissioner  

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made mistakes in not listening to players, in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

The NFL has been locked in an ongoing debate with players over kneeling protests during the national anthem before the start of games, a practice popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

WATCH | NFL Commissioner admits league mistake for not listening to players: 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong for not listening to players fighting for racial equality and encourages them to peacefully protest. 0:49

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league in 2017, claiming collusion as no teams signed him after he parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL and Kaepernick settled in 2019.

“Protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff,” said Goodell. “I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve.”

The NFL sent the video out just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his call for an end to kneeling protests during the national anthem.

Jaguars lead march against racial injustice

The Jacksonville Jaguars protested against inequality and police brutality on Friday, marching from their stadium to the steps of the sheriff’s department.

“Today, we say, ‘No more,'” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “Today, we see a nation that can’t await change, a city that won’t sit still or be quiet.”

The march included Joshua Dobbs, Brandon Linder and Josh Lambo of the Jaguars along with family members. Coach Doug Marrone, general manager Dave Caldwell and assistant coach Terry Robiskie also walked in what the team called an attempt to “raise awareness for racial injustices against the black community,” with many wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.

The Jaguars started their march at 9:04 a.m. local time to signify the local 904 area code.

The protest came two days after owner Shad Khan spoke against racism in a letter on the team website. He promised then the franchise would work toward a “timely response.” Former Jaguars receiver Ernest Wilford, now an officer at the department, joined them on the steps at the sheriff’s office.

Conley spoke at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said he cried when he saw the video of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging when killed Feb. 23 in Georgia.

Marrone said the Jaguars are working on actions they believe can make a difference. He also challenged the white community to step back, listen and learn.

“Let’s not make the same mistakes we’ve made,” Marrone said. “We need to stand together white and black to make this movement work.”

With the NFL allowing only coaches to return to their offices Friday and players still working remotely because of the pandemic, several Jaguars could not take part in the march.

The team posted videos from a handful of players, including quarterback Gardner Minshew, linebacker Joe Schobert and defensive end Aaron Lynch. Schobert encouraged people to register to vote.

The Jaguars’ protest is the latest involving professional athletes since the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry marched in a protest Wednesday along with his wife and four teammates from the Golden State Warriors, including Klay Thompson. Shaq Thompson, and four other Carolina Panthers walked in a protest march Monday in Charlotte, with Thompson helping lead the way.

Broncos plan Saturday march in Denver

On Saturday, several Denver Broncos and coaches plan to march to the Colorado capitol, the site of daily demonstrations. Safety Kareem Jackson organized the gathering after saying Tuesday that players need to do more than tweet and talk because they all see what’s going on.

“I think it’s huge for us to be heard,” Jackson said Tuesday on a video call, “and it’s huge for us to be out in the community so everyone can see us and know that we stand behind them.”

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Saints’ Drew Brees responds to Trump: It was ‘never’ about the flag – Sportsnet.ca

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A day after he apologized for his comments about NFLers engaging in peaceful protest, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is defending his newfound stance to the president of the United States.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Brees for walking back his statements about kneeling during the national anthem.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honouring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!” Trump tweeted.

Brees — who faced backlash from teammates, other athletes and fans for saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States” — acknowledged in an Instagram post Friday night that he has learned the protests initiated by Colin Kaepernick in the NFL and taken up by other players was never about the stars and stripes.

“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week,” Brees wrote.

“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

View this post on Instagram

To @realdonaldtrump Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on Jun 5, 2020 at 7:10pm PDT

Issues of police brutality and systemic racism have returned to the forefront of discussions around the NFL in light of the widespread protests over the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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