Tag Archives: concerns

North Korea says it won’t participate in Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns

North Korea said it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A website run by the North’s sports ministry said the decision was made during a national Olympic Committee meeting on March 25 where members prioritized protecting athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”

South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Tuesday expressed regret over the North’s decision, saying it had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, which have declined amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters she was still confirming details and couldn’t immediately comment on the matter.

North Korea sent 22 athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with government officials, performance artists, journalists and a 230-member all-female cheering group.

Politics and sports

At the Pyeongchang Games, the North and South Korean athletes jointly marched under a blue map symbolizing a unified Korean Peninsula, while the red-clad North Korean cheerleaders captivated global attention.

The Koreas also fielded their first combined Olympic team in women’s ice hockey, which drew passionate support from crowds despite losing all five of its games with a combined score of 28-2.

Those games were also much about politics. The North Korean contingent included the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who conveyed her brother’s desire for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a move which helped it initiate diplomacy with South Korea and the United States.

That diplomacy has stalemated since, and North Korea’s decision to sit out the Tokyo Olympics is a setback for hopes to revive it.

WATCH | Olympic torch begins 121-day journey:

Japanese torchbearer Azusa Iwashimizu, a member of Japan’s women’s national football team, lit the Tokyo Olympic torch to begin the relay in Fukushima, Japan. 0:40

While North Korea has steadfastly claimed to be coronavirus-free, outsiders widely doubt whether the country has escaped the pandemic entirely, given its poor health infrastructure and a porous border it shares with China, its economic lifeline.

Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” North Korea has severely limited cross-border traffic, banned tourists, jetted out diplomats and mobilized health workers to quarantine tens of thousands of people who had shown symptoms.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga previously said he expected to invite U.S. President Joe Biden to the Olympics and was willing to meet with Kim Jong-un or his powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, if either attended the Games. Suga, however, did not say if he will invite either of them.

Kim Jong-un in recent political speeches has pledged to bolster his nuclear deterrent in the face of U.S.-led pressure, and his government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overture for talks, demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.

The North ended a yearlong pause in ballistic testing activity last month by firing two short-range missiles off its eastern coast, continuing a tradition of testing new U.S. administrations with weapons demonstrations aimed at measuring Washington’s response and wresting concessions.

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CBC | Sports News

Meghan says Royal Family had concerns about Archie’s skin colour

In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Meghan described painful discussions within the Royal Family about the colour of her son’s skin before he was born and how the intense pressures of royal life led her to contemplate suicide.

“They didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey, referring to Archie.

“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time — so we have in tandem the conversation of, you won’t be given security, not gonna be given a title and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” said Meghan, who is biracial.

She declined to say who had aired such concerns. Asked by Winfrey if she was silent or had been silenced, she replied: “The latter.”

WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family expressed concerns about son’s skin colour:

Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family didn’t want her and Prince Harry’s son to be made a prince or receive security partly over concerns over how dark the baby’s skin would be. 0:15

Meghan also she had suicidal thoughts and considered harming herself after asking for help but getting none. “This was very, very clear … and very scary,” she said.

“I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how [Prince Harry] just cradled me.”

WATCH | Meghan says she thought about suicide during royal life:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she had asked for help from the Royal Family for her mental health, but received none. 0:22

Harry says Charles stopped taking his calls

Harry, who joined the interview halfway through, said his father — Prince Charles, the heir to the throne — had stopped taking his calls when he and Meghan decided to step away from their royal duties.

The Duke of Sussex, who announced that he and his wife are expecting a girl this summer, said that he felt let down by his father and that his late mother, Princess Diana, would have been angry and upset at the way the Royal Family had treated his wife Meghan.

Harry told Winfrey that he would not have stepped back from the royal family had it not been for Meghan, because “I was trapped but didn’t know I was trapped.”

Meghan, left, discusses her experiences with the Royal Family with Winfrey. (Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Reuters)

“I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what the pain feels like,” Harry said of his father. “I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.”

“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said. “But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that we would not have been able to do this.”

Earlier, Meghan said the Royal Family tried to silence her and people within the institution not only failed to protect her against malicious claims by the British press but lied to protect others.

WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry:

The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that things started to worsen with the Royal Family after she and Harry were married. 0:23

“It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family,” Meghan said.

“But they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”

Harry also denied blindsiding his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, saying he had too much respect for her.

“I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?”

Asked why Charles had stopped taking his calls, Harry said “by that point I took matters into my own hands.”

“It was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s got to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s and for Archie’s as well.”

Refuting tabloid reports

Meghan also refuted British tabloid reports that she made her sister-in-law Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, cry before her 2018 wedding, but rather that the reverse happened.

Meghan told Winfrey that Kate subsequently apologized and she forgave her. But when tabloid stories emerged purporting the opposite, Meghan said that marked a turning point for her relationship with U.K. media, and said she would have hoped Kate would have wanted the story corrected.

“What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn’t do, but that happened to me.”

The show, which included Winfrey’s interviews with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aired first in the United States — Meghan’s home country — and Canada at 8 p.m. ET. British audiences will wake up Monday to headlines and social media posts about Winfrey’s special, but won’t be able to see the full interview until Monday night when it airs on ITV.

Meghan told Winfrey that she realized life as a royal would be different than she anticipated when her future husband asked her if she knew how to curtsey before meeting Queen Elizabeth.

“There was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like,” Meghan told Winfrey.

“I went into it naively,” she said about joining the royal family.

Meghan, who said she was not being paid for the interview, also said she and Harry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their public wedding. She called that day an “out-of-body experience.”

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CBC | World News

COVID-19 again? Reinfection cases raise concerns over immunity

The case of a man in the United States infected twice with the virus that causes COVID-19 shows there is much yet to learn about immune responses and also raises questions over vaccination, scientists said on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old from Reno, Nev., tested positive in April after showing mild symptoms, then got sick again in late May with a more serious bout, according to a case report in the Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal.

The report was published just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month, said he felt “so powerful” and believes he now has immunity.

Scientists said that while known incidences of reinfection appear rare — and the Nevada man has now recovered — cases like his were worrying. Other isolated cases of reinfection have been reported around the world, including in Asia and Europe.

In the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health confirmed on Tuesday that an 89-year-old Dutch woman, also sick with a rare form of bone marrow cancer, had recently died after contracting COVID-19 for a second time.

Dutch media said this was the first known case worldwide of a death after SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus reinfection.

Vaccine implications

“It is becoming increasingly clear that reinfections are possible, but we can’t yet know how common this will be,” said Simon Clarke, a microbiology expert at Britain’s Reading University.

“If people can be reinfected easily, it could also have implications for vaccination programs as well as our understanding of when and how the pandemic will end.”

The Nevada patient’s doctors, who first reported the case in a non-peer-reviewed paper in August, said sophisticated testing showed that the virus strains associated with each bout of infection were genetically different.

WATCH | Reinfections raise questions about COVID-19 vaccine efforts:

Three confirmed cases of COVID-19 reinfection raise concerns about how common it might be and how effective a vaccine will be as the virus appears to mutate. 1:57

“These findings reinforce the point that we still do not know enough about the immune response to this infection,” said Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at Britain’s University of East Anglia.

Brendan Wren, a professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the Nevada case was the fifth confirmed example of reinfection worldwide.

“The demonstration that it is possible to be reinfected by SARS-CoV-2 may suggest that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be totally protective,” he said. “However, given the [more than] 40 million cases worldwide, these small examples of reinfection are tiny and should not deter efforts to develop vaccines.”

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic concurred that the U.S. case underlined what was unknown about immunity.

“This also really is an argument against what some have been advocating, and that’s building naturally what is called herd immunity. Because we don’t know,” Jasarevic told a briefing. 

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CBC | Health News

Doctors try to assuage Trump health concerns following COVID-19 hospitalization

The latest:

  • U.S. president endured ‘very concerning’ period on Friday. 
  • Trump was administered oxygen at White House, sources tell AP.
  • Trump had been treated at the hospital with remdesivir.
  • Doctor says Trump has been fever-free for 24 hours.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s doctor on Saturday painted a rosy picture of the president’s health as Trump remains hospitalized for coronavirus treatment. But that assessment was immediately contradicted by a person familiar with Trump’s condition, who said the president was administered supplemental oxygen on Friday at the White House.

As well, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said the president went through a “very concerning” period on Friday, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.

The briefing by Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley and other doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center raised more questions than it answered. The president’s physician left murky the issue of whether Trump needed supplemental oxygen and declined to discuss exactly when he fell ill.

Conley, in his briefing, also revealed that Trump began exhibiting “clinical indications” of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, earlier than previously known.

WATCH | Trump in ‘exceptionally good spirits,’ his doctor says:

U.S. President Donald Trump is in ‘exceptionally good spirits’ as he receives treatment for COVID-19 and is recovering well, says his physician, Dr. Sean Conley. 4:23

According to the person familiar with Trump’s condition, the president was administered oxygen at the White House on Friday before he was transported to the military hospital in Bethesda, Md. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity,

Conley had said Trump has been fever-free for 24 hours as he updated the nation on the president’s condition from Walter Reed on Saturday afternoon. Trump was admitted on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus and has been undergoing treatment.

While Conley said the president is not currently on oxygen, he refused to say whether Trump had ever been on oxygen, despite repeated questioning.

“Thursday no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” he said. Conley said that Trump’s symptoms, including a cough and nasal congestion, “are now resolving and improving.”

“He’s in exceptionally good spirits,” said another doctor, Sean Dooley.

The administration has consistently been less than transparent about the president’s health as the virus spread inside the White House. Aides had declined to share basic health information about Trump, including a full accounting of his symptoms, what tests he’s undertaken and the results. The first word that a close aide to Trump had been infected came from the media, not the White House.

In a memo released shortly before midnight, Conley did report that Trump had been treated at the hospital with remdesivir, an antiviral medication, after taking another experimental drug at the White House. He added that Trump is “doing very well” and is “not requiring any supplemental oxygen.”

Conley declined to say when Trump had last been tested before he was confirmed to have COVID-19 late Thursday. He initially suggested that Trump was 72 hours into the diagnosis, putting the confirmation of the infection to Wednesday. Conley later clarified that Trump was administered an accurate test for the virus on Thursday afternoon, after White House aide Hope Hicks was confirmed to be positive, and Trump exhibited unspecified “clinical indications” of the virus.

WATCH | New Yorkers have little sympathy for Trump:

On the streets of New York, where the pandemic has taken a heavy toll, sympathy for U.S. President Donald Trump and his COVID-19 diagnosis was hard to find Friday. 1:00

The White House said Trump was expected to stay at the hospital for “a few days” out of an abundance of caution and that he would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties. In addition to accessibility to tests and equipment, the decision was made, at least in part, with the understanding that moving him later, if he took a turn for the worse, could send a worrying signal.

On Saturday, Conley said Trump’s blood oxygen level is 96 per cent, which is in the normal range. Trump has been treated with two experimental drugs, given through an IV, that have shown some promise against COVID-19. On Friday, he was given a single dose of a drug that’s being tested by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. to supply antibodies to help his immune system fight the virus.

On Friday night, Trump began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of the virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ s ability to multiply.

“We’re maximizing all aspects of his care,” attacking the virus in multiple ways, Conley said. “I didn’t want to hold anything back if there was any possibility it would add value to his care.”

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CBC | World News

Canadian softball’s Sara Groenewegen steps away from pro league over virus concerns

Canada’s Sara Groenewegen opted out of her pro women’s softball league on Wednesday.

In a post on Twitter, the 25-year-old Surrey, B.C., native, who is diabetic, explained that the decision was made because of health concerns over the coronavirus in the U.S.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunity to play professionally and earn an income in the sport of softball, but no amount of money is worth putting my health at risk at this time,” Groenewegen wrote.

The right-handed pitcher had been set to play in the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited in Chicago at the end of August. The new league is an initiative meant to put power back in the hands of the players. There are no team owners, and the public can purchase equity in the league so that profits go to the athletes.

Groenewegen would have starred alongside standouts such as outfielders AJ Andrews and Victoria Hayward in Chicago.

“This decision wasn’t easy, but after much thought, consideration and conversations with my doctors, trainers and coaches, I’ve come to the conclusion that moving to the United States is not in my best interest for me and my future,” Groenewegen wrote.

Groenewegen was part of Canada’s 2015 gold-medal Pan Am Games team as well as the bronze medallists from the 2016 worlds.

She was diagnosed with diabetes at nine years old, and was forced to miss the 2018 world championships after contracting Legionnaires’ disease and being placed in a 10-day medically induced coma.

WATCH | Softball Canada punches ticket to Tokyo with walk-off home run:

Canada beat Brazil 7-0 in a winner-take-all match at the Americas Olympics Qualifier, officially clinching a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 1:56

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CBC | Sports News

TFC, D.C. United game rescheduled to Monday after COVID-19 test concerns: report

Toronto FC and D.C. United will try to play their opening match at the MLS is Back Tournament for the third time on Monday morning, according to a source.

The source was granted anonymity because the league hadn’t announced the time or date of the game at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.

Toronto didn’t make it out of the hotel for the 9 a.m. kickoff Sunday after a pair of COVID-19 tests prompted the match to be called off minutes before it was scheduled to start.

The league said a round of pre-game testing Saturday had returned a positive test for a D.C. United player and an inconclusive test for a Toronto player. The positive test was considered unconfirmed until backed up by a second test.

Both players and teams were retested Sunday morning.

It was not immediately clear whether the two players in question had returned the necessary negative tests needed to return to the fold. But the fact the game was going ahead a day later suggests at the least that the other player tests were negative.

Tournament has lost FC Dallas and Nashville SC

It marked the second delay for both Toronto and D.C. United. They were supposed to meet Friday night but the game was pushed back to Sunday due to Toronto’s late arrival at the tournament because of the need for additional COVID-19 testing in the wake of a player reporting symptoms.

With the game expected to start at 9 a.m. Monday, both teams faced another early morning wake-up call. Toronto’s pre-game meal Sunday was scheduled for 5:30 a.m.

After the threat of lightning delayed Atlanta’s game against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night, there were more delays and drama Sunday.

The tournament has already lost FC Dallas and Nashville SC due to a rash of positive COVID-19 tests.

“We believe the tournament can still be conducted safely,” MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott told a virtual conference call Sunday morning. “And if at the point we determine it can’t, obviously we would make a decision then.

“In the case of Dallas and Nashville, the decision was made that based on the extent of the positive tests in those teams (and) their ability to train, that the more prudent course was to withdraw them.

“But we had established a set of protocols that are working as they were designed, which is to identify players that have had positive tests for COVID-19, to remove and separate them from the team and isolate them. And to continue the process of testing the other players … We view this (case) as the process working.”

Under league protocols, players who test positive are isolated while those who test negative “move forward.”

Abbott said because Toronto only arrived last Monday, the decision was made to await the results of tests conducted Sunday morning before playing the game.

“When we receive the results of those two complete team retests, we’ll be in a position to know when the game could be rescheduled,” said Abbott.

‘We were committed to making the right decision’

The deputy commissioner said the results of Saturday’s tests came back late Saturday or early Sunday.

“Obviously it happened over a brief period of time but we were committed to making the right decision,” he said.

It added to an already stressful morning for the teams given the unusually early kickoff time — made to avoid the Florida heat. Both Toronto captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore had criticized the 9 a.m. start, saying it was not conducive to good football.

Toronto’s pre-game meal was scheduled for 5:30 a.m. As it was, the team never left the league hotel — located a five- or 10-minute bus ride from the playing field.

D.C. United players did arrive, leaving soon after.

“To every DC United supporter, our families & friends, I’m sorry you woke up so early to see us play, to then have the match postponed AGAIN,” tweeted D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid. “Especially after so many people planned originally to watch the game which was meant to play on Friday! Have a beautiful Sunday regardless.”

While all 24 remaining teams are staying in the same hotel, they are isolated from each other in the MLS tournament bubble. Players and other personnel are tested every other day.

Outside, the number of positive cases continues to climb.

Toronto faces Montreal on Wednesday

On Sunday, Florida reported 15,300 new cases over the last 24 hours — a single-day record in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

Toronto’s next game is Wednesday against the rival Montreal Impact. D.C. United faces New England on Thursday.

There were some surprises in Toronto’s planned starting 11 Sunday.

While it fielded the same back five as it had in its last league game March 7, there were four changes further forward. Bradley and Argentine newcomer Pablo Piatti, who both missed the opening two games of the season, were to return from injury.

Tsubasa Endoh and Ako Akinola were also in the starting 11.

Altidore did not make the matchday 23. He was late joining the team after spending the lockdown at his Florida home and had to train on his own while fulfilling quarantine.

Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio also was not slated to dress.

Sunday’s Sporting Kansas City against Minnesota United game was scheduled to go ahead despite confirmation Friday by Kansas City that one of its players had tested positive.

The tournament is the first action for the league since it suspended play March 12 due to the global pandemic.

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CBC | Soccer News

TFC leaves for Florida with concerns over COVID-19 situation that awaits

Toronto FC heads to Florida with some unease given recent positive tests there by FC Dallas players and the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases state-wide.

“There’s concern, no doubt,” said head coach Greg Vanney. “Because it’s showing that the [MLS] bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble.

“That remains to be seen.” 

Vanney says if he could, he would delay his team’s departure to the MLS is Back Tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said of the departure date.

Vanney said given the team feels comfortable and safe in Toronto and the situation is less stable in Florida, “it just makes sense… that we don’t go barrelling down right now until they know that have everything under control.

“Maybe they do.”

The TFC delegation is scheduled to leave Friday, the latest allowed by Major League Soccer which has mandated teams have to arrive at least a week before their first game. Toronto opens July 10 against D.C. United.

The seven-day requirement is presumably to allow players time to be isolated if they test positive in Florida.

Not everything has been smooth in the leadup to leaving. Vanney said training had to be scrapped Wednesday because of a delay in getting COVID test results back.

WATCH | MLS players, owners reach deal with return-to-play plan: 

MLS players have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a return to play plan. 1:25

Still, Vanney says his players wants to take part in the tournament and are motivated to go deep into the World-Cup style event.

“At the same time, obviously they’re not oblivious to what’s happening,” he told a media conference call Thursday.

Asked if staging a tournament during the pandemic was worth it, Vanney replied: “it’s a tough one.”

“I don’t know. For me, if it’s my call, there’s a lot of things at play here,” added the father of four. “I have my concerns for our guys and for our team and our families and all that kind of stuff. But we’re doing it. And if we’re going to go do it, we’re going to go do it with the intent to be successful.”

‘The bubble’

Still, what is going on south of the border is worrying.

“The challenge that we all have on the human side of the group [is] we see what’s going on down in the U.S.,” Vanney said. “People are not taking things serious and it’s completely, in a lot of ways, out of control. And with very little leadership going on down there, outside of the bubble that is whatever MLS is trying to create.

“The problem is the bubble is only as good as what gets into the bubble. And that’s obviously becoming an issue, which is concerning for all of us. Our guys are very aware of it. Are they concerned? Yes. Are they right to be concerned? Yes, I guess.”

The league said Wednesday that two FC Dallas players tested positive upon arrival Saturday at the league’s host hotel in Florida. Another four tested positive within the last few days.

The entire Dallas party went into isolation pending additional testing. While teams are staying in the same hotel, they are supposed to be isolated from other squads.

WATCH | The challenges of choosing a hub city:

While the NHL tries to narrow down the list of hub cities from ten to two, Rob Pizzo looks at the problems they face. 3:00

The Columbus Dispatch, citing a source, reported Thursday that a Columbus player had also tested positive in Florida. The Crew arrived Sunday.

Vanney says his team wants to “the best of our ability” create its own bubble with the MLS bubble.

“What we can control is what we do,” he said. “That’s the first and foremost thing that we’ve got to try to do.”

Vanney says all MLS players coming into the bubble bear a responsibility to do the right thing leading into entering the controlled environment.

“I think some players have failed in some ways of keeping themselves quarantined and away from what’s going on around them and not bringing it into the bubble … The problem is we all rely on each other. That’s the way this works.”

‘A lot better control of the situation’

Florida reported a record 10,109 new cases Thursday, more than all the cases reported to date in Norway (8,865) according to the world Health Organization.

Toronto is bringing 29 players — all of its first-team players with the exception of rookie forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who is out for the season after an injury.

The 22-year-old from Nigeria tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in training Friday at BMO Field when he became tangled with defender Omar Gonzalez, who has seven inches and 45 pounds on him, while both attempted to get to a cross.

“It was one of the last plays of the day, unfortunately,” said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

Achara is scheduled to undergo surgery next Tuesday. He will miss the rest of the season, whatever that is after the MLS is Back Tournament which runs July 8 to Aug. 11 in Florida.

Star striker Jozy Altidore, who has been training on his own while fulfilling his mandated quarantine after returning from his home in Florida, is due to rejoin the full team Friday for practice.

Vanney said they will be careful with his return, saying it would be asking a lot to be ready for the first game.

The Vancouver Whitecaps were slated to leave Wednesday. But their departure was postponed after two inclusive tests that later turned out to be negative. The Whitecaps were undergoing additional tests Thursday.

The Montreal Impact, who open July 9 against the New England Revolution, were slated to leave Thursday.

While the Canadian MLS teams head south to the COVID hot spot of Florida, NHL teams reportedly will be coming the other way to play.

Canada, Vanney said, seems to have “a lot better control of the situation.”

“To be able to go into that environment as a team would be a lot more comfortable than going down to what has essentially become the epicentre of the virus,” he said. “So for sure, that [coming to Canada] is a smart move.”

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CBC | Soccer News

Concerns grow that Iran will use downed Flight 752 to reopen ties with Canada

Iran’s efforts to resume diplomatic relations with Canada — while the country is under international pressure to release flight information and conduct a transparent investigation into the downing of Flight 752 — has some worried that Iran is using the tragedy as a bargaining tool.

“At this moment, they need to show some level of co-operation … before starting to talk about a diplomatic relationship,” said Reza Akbari, the president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton. 

“It’s absolutely inappropriate.”

Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 in January, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians. Iran initially denied responsibility for the incident, but later admitted its role in downing the jetliner. 

The country has since been accused of stalling international efforts to conduct a transparent investigation as Canadian officials continue to push for the country to release the flight recorders involved in the crash.

Canada cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012 over concerns about human rights abuses committed by the Iranian regime, expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada and closing its embassy in Tehran. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said at the time that he viewed Iran as the world’s “most significant threat to global peace and security.”

Last week, a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign affairs ministry said the country had spoken to its Canadian counterparts about renewing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In an email to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada confirmed that Iran had raised “the issue of re-establishing consular relations” with Canadian officials, though the department says its “focus and priority is on making progress on issues related to PS752.”

Iran taking advantage of tragedy, victim’s mother says

On Friday, the family of a University of Alberta student killed aboard the plane gathered in Edmonton to commemorate the life of Amir Hossein Saeedinia — and to call on the Canadian government to hold Iran accountable for its actions.

Saeedinia’s mother, Leila Latifi, said she hoped Canada would not allow Iran to reopen its embassy in Ottawa. Her family fled Iran after Flight 752 over concerns for their safety and have now filed for refugee status in Edmonton. 

Speaking to CBC News in Farsi through an interpreter, Latifi said she felt that Iran was using the tragedy to “take advantage” of improving its international relationships.

Leila Latifi fled Iran after she says the military pressured her not to speak publicly about the downing of Flight 752, which killed her son. On his birthday Friday, Latifi called for the Canadian government to ensure the victims receive justice. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Akbari, who was also attending the remembrance for Saeedinia, called any talks to restore diplomatic ties “gut wrenching”. Edmonton lost more than a dozen people in the downing of the plane. 

“Iran must be prosecuted in the International Court of Justice for the tragic crime that they have done, for the many unanswered questions,” he said.

Canada’s leverage with Iran

Thomas Juneau, an associate professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said it was not unusual for the two countries to be discussing the state of their diplomatic relations.

“Both sides have said that they are open to the prospect of relaunching these discussions at some point,” Juneau said. “So just speaking in general terms, it is not necessarily surprising.”

But it would be a misstep to advance those discussions, Juneau warned, before securing the release of the airplane’s so-called black boxes, getting compensation for victims’ families and ensuring that a fully transparent investigation will be conducted.

“Right now, the incentive of eventually having that level of diplomatic representation is one of the only sources of leverage that we have with Iran. So giving that away … I think would probably weaken our hand.”

Canada is pushing to fully participate in the investigation into the downing of Flight 752. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via The Associated Press)

Juneau said that although details of talks between Canadian and Iranian officials are not known,  it’s not likely that either country would go as far as reopening their embassies any time soon. 

There are more plausible alternatives, Juneau said, such as hosting an office within another country’s embassy in order to handle matters like consular services. 

The international relations expert said it’s not surprising that Iran would be stoking conversations about improving its relationships at this time, given that it is currently under “massive” economic, diplomatic and domestic pressure.

But Canada should be very cautious about navigating such talks, Juneau said. 

“To move towards any form of diplomatic re-engagement before these issues [are] fully resolved — or at least on the way to being resolved — politically, that would be very difficult for Canada from the perspective of the families of the victims.”

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Plagued with problems, Georgia primaries raise concerns about November U.S. presidential election

Voters endured heat, pouring rain and waits as long as five hours on Tuesday to cast ballots in Georgia, demonstrating a fierce desire to participate in the democratic process while raising questions about the emerging battleground state’s ability to manage elections in November when the White House is at stake.

A confluence of events disrupted primary elections for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.

The polls were staffed by fewer workers because of concerns about the coronavirus. A reduced workforce contributed to officials consolidating polling places, which disproportionately affected neighbourhoods with high concentrations of people of colour. Long lines were also reported in whiter suburban areas.

Some voters said they requested mail-in ballots that never arrived, forcing them to go to polling places and adding to the lines. Turnout, meanwhile, may be higher than expected as voters said they were determined to vote following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., and the ensuing demonstrations that swept cities including Atlanta.

Former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden easily won the state’s Democratic presidential primary. He was facing no real opposition but hoped to post a strong showing among Georgia’s diverse electorate to show his strength heading into the general election.

There was also trouble with Georgia’s new voting system that combines touch screens with scanned paper ballots.

Voters wait in a line that stretched around the Metropolitan Library in Atlanta. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via The Associated Press)

The developments were troubling heading into the fall presidential campaign, which will attract even more voters. President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are expected to fiercely compete in this rapidly changing state. That leaves officials, who have already been criticized for attempting to suppress the vote, with less than five months to turn things around.

The state’s chief elections officer, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, announced plans to investigate voting problems that plagued Fulton and DeKalb counties, where roughly half the population is black.

Investigation ordered

Republican House Speaker David Ralston directed leaders of the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the “unacceptable deficiencies” across the state, particularly in Fulton County.

Benaiah Shaw, who joined the protests against police brutality after Floyd’s death, said he votes in every election but had never waited as long as he did on Tuesday — five hours.

“It’s really disheartening to see a line like this in an area with predominantly black residents,” said Shaw, a 25-year-old African American. He said he was appalled by how few voting machines were available.

Americans were also voting in primaries in West Virginia, Nevada and South Carolina. But the tumult in Georgia garnered much of the attention, reinforcing concerns about managing elections amid the coronavirus.

The Biden campaign called the voting problems in Georgia “completely unacceptable,” and a threat to American values of free and fair elections.

“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote,” said Rachana Desai Martin, the campaign’s national director for voter protection and senior counsel.

Long waits in Wisconsin, Washington

Voters were also forced to wait hours to cast ballots in recent primary contests across Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. While there were no reports of machine malfunctions in other states on Tuesday, the number of voting places was dramatically reduced in virtually every state that has held in-person voting in recent weeks to accommodate a drop in poll workers.

Even before Georgia voters ran into problems, Raffensperger warned that results may be slow to come in because of poll closures and virus restrictions.

Outside a recreation centre being used as a polling site in Atlanta, some voters said they had been waiting for nearly four hours in a line that wrapped around the block. At another site off Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, several people walked up, looked at the line wrapped around the parking lot and then left, shaking their heads in frustration.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said voters in line at one of Atlanta’s largest precincts reported all the machines were down. She encouraged voters not to give up.

“If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed,” the mayor tweeted.

Georgia being closely watched

The problems weren’t just limited to the Atlanta area. In Savannah, Mayor Van Johnson said he was “inundated” with phone calls Tuesday morning from voters reporting “extensive delays.” Election officials in surrounding Chatham County said voting hours at 35 precincts were being extended by two hours.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said he wasn’t surprised that Georgia had voting problems given that the state’s elections chief is a Republican. He noted that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp faced allegations of suppressing votes when he oversaw the 2018 elections as secretary of state.

“Republicans want to ensure that it is as hard as possible for people to vote,” Perez said in an interview.

Kemp was largely silent about the voting problems on Tuesday, aside from retweeting a message from his wife urging people to vote.

Georgia hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, but the state is being closely watched by Trump and Biden. The former vice president, in particular, hopes to emerge as the prime beneficiary of energy from the African American community and its white allies, who have held massive protests for more than a week.

His path to the presidency was already focused on maximizing black turnout and expanding his alliance with white suburbanites and city dwellers, young voters, Asian Americans and Latinos. Trump, meanwhile, hoped to demonstrate strength among his base of white voters in small towns while holding his own in metro areas.

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Crowds cram beaches across U.S., raising physical distancing concerns

The Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. meant big crowds at beaches and warnings from authorities Sunday about people disregarding the coronavirus physical-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.

Sheriff’s deputies and beach patrols tried to make sure people kept their distance from others as they soaked up the rays on the sand and at parks and other recreation sites around the country.

In the Tampa area along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities took the extraordinary step of closing parking lots because they were full. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said about 300 deputies were patrolling the beaches to ensure people didn’t get too close.

On the Sunday talk shows, Dr. Deborah Birx, co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” she said on ABC’s This Week.

In West Virginia, ATV riders jammed the vast, 1,120-kilometre Hatfield-McCoy network of all-terrain vehicle trails on the first weekend it was allowed to reopen since the outbreak took hold. Campgrounds and cabins were opened as well.

In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation hot spot popular with Chicagoans, over the weekend. One video showed a crammed pool where vacationers lounged close together without masks, St. Louis station KMOV-TV reported.

Revelers celebrate Memorial Day weekend at Osage Beach of the Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., on Saturday. (Twitter/Lawler50 via REUTERS)

In Daytona Beach, Fla., gunfire erupted Saturday night along a beachside road where more than 200 people had gathered and were seen partying and dancing despite the restrictions. Several people were wounded and taken to the hospital, authorities said.

At New York’s Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys and people sat in folding chairs. Some wore winter coats on a cool and breezy day as temperatures struggled to reach 16 C. Many wore masks and sat apart from others.

Death toll nears 100,000

The U.S. is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that almost certainly understates the toll.

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the United States. The headline: “An Incalculable Loss.”

The cover of The New York Times is seen for sale in New York City on Sunday. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump went golfing for the second day in a row at his private club in Virginia. Trump had not played for weeks before this weekend.

Trump said on the syndicated Sunday program Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson that he is feeling fine after taking a two-week course of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement to protect him against the virus, declaring, “To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”

U.S. President Donald Trump waves from a vehicle as he departs the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Sunday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The president has spent weeks pushing the drug against the advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals. Hydroxychloroquine can have deadly side effects.

The issue of wearing masks in public and staying several feet apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans taking to the streets to protest such rules as a violation of their rights.

People wear face masks onboard a plane at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on Sunday. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue.

“This is not about politics. This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” DeWine said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Its been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others.”

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