Beijing Games organisers say virus ‘biggest challenge’, 100 days from start

Protecting the Beijing Winter Olympics from the coronavirus is the “biggest challenge”, organisers said Wednesday, as millions of people in China were under stay-at-home orders to contain small outbreaks 100 days before the Games.

“The pandemic is the biggest challenge to the organisation of the Winter Olympics,” Zhang Jiandong, executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee, told a press conference.

Originally published as Beijing Games organisers say virus ‘biggest challenge’, 100 days from start

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Unvaccinated players can compete at Australian Open: leaked email

A leaked WTA email says unvaccinated players will be welcome at the Australian Open

Unvaccinated players will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open but must complete 14 days in hotel quarantine, according to a leaked WTA email Monday, although a government official insisted the matter was not yet settled.

The rules would also likely apply to the men’s tour, leaving the door open for world number one Novak Djokovic to defend his title at Melbourne Park in January.

The email said that players fully inoculated against coronavirus would not have to quarantine or remain in bio-secure bubbles, enjoying “complete freedom of movement”.

“We feel the need to reach out to you all to clear up false and misleading information that has recently been spread by other parties about the conditions the players will be forced to endure at next year’s Australian Open,” the email read.

Vaccinated players could arrive any time after December 1, must have a negative test within 72 hours of departing for Australia and test again within 24 hours of arrival. Otherwise, there will be no restrictions, the email said.

– Still talking –

“We’re still talking to the Commonwealth (national government) about whether the rule for international unvaccinated arrivals is either 14 days quarantine or they’re not coming into the country at all,” he said in response to the leaked email.

Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic is one of many players who have refused to share their vaccination status, casting doubt over whether he will defend his title.

Reports have put the vaccination rate for tennis players at between 50 and 60 percent, but Pakula spoke with Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on Monday and he believed they were much higher.

Melbourne is in Victoria state, which on Friday emerged from one of the world’s most prolonged series of Covid lockdowns, in total more than 260 days since the pandemic began.


Originally published as Unvaccinated players can compete at Australian Open: leaked email

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Burning cargo ship spews toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast

In this photo taken by Gerald Graham and received by AFP on October 24, 2021, smoke is seen rising from the side of the container ship Zim Kingston off Canada’s Pacific coast

The Canadian coast guard has evacuated 16 people from a burning container ship that is expelling toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast, but there is “no safety risk” to those on shore, authorities said Sunday.

“The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas,” the Canadian coast guard said in a navigational warning on its website.

Originally published as Burning cargo ship spews toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast

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Ugandan president says deadly blast a ‘terrrorist act’

Map of Uganda locating the capital Kampala.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Sunday an explosion in the capital Kampala that killed one person and injured five was “a terrorist act”, vowing to hunt down those responsible.

Police said a “serious blast” occurred at around 9 pm (1800 GMT) on Saturday at a grilled pork joint in Komamboga, a northern Kampala suburb popular with roadside diners.

“It seems to be a terrorist act but we shall get the perpetrators,” Museveni said on Twitter.

“The public should not fear, we shall defeat this criminality like we have defeated all the other criminality committed by the pigs who don’t respect life,” Museveni said.

Police forensic officers in white overalls could be seen examining areas close to the scene.

Security forces rushed to the scene in Komamboga, a fast-growing suburb about eight kilometres (five miles) north of Kampala city centre.

Local mayor Emmanuel Sserunjogi said the bombing took place in an area popular with revellers looking for roasted meat and drinks on a night out.

– Terror warnings –

But it followed an uptick in recent weeks of signs and warnings that a strike could be imminent. 

In a statement issued through its communication channels, the group claimed a unit from its Central Africa operation had detonated an improvised explosive device that resulted in injuries and damage to police infrastructure.

However in the following days, both the UK and France updated their travel advice for Uganda, urging vigilance in crowded areas and public places like restaurants, bars and hotels.

In 2010, twin bombings in Kampala targeting fans watching the World Cup final left 76 people dead.

The attack, the first outside Somalia by the insurgents, was seen as revenge for Uganda sending troops to the war-torn country as part of an African Union mission to confront Al-Shabaab.

Originally published as Ugandan president says deadly blast a ‘terrrorist act’

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