Tag Archives: limbo

Canadian Adriana Leon undergoes surgery for broken foot, Olympics in limbo

Canadian international forward Adriana Leon will miss the rest of the FA Women’s Super League season after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured foot.

The English league runs through May 9. There was no immediate word on whether her recovery will stretch into the Tokyo Olympics, whose soccer competition is scheduled for July 21 through Aug. 7.

In a release Tuesday, West Ham said the surgery happened last Friday.

In 18 appearances this season, Leon has picked up one goal and five assists.

She joined West Ham United in January 2019 following a five-year stretch in the National Women’s Soccer League where she was last with the Seattle Reign, who decided not to retain her rights following the 2018 season. 

In between that time, she made the move to Swiss Nationalliga A team FC Zurich Frauen in 2016, where she spent four months before returning to the U.S. to play for the Boston Breakers of the NWSL. 

The King City, Ont. native attended Notre Dame University for her first two years on the Divison 1 level before transferring to the University of Florida for one year. 

The 28-year-old has won 66 caps for Canada with 19 goals and four assists.

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Canada’s Pangos stuck in limbo while awaiting potential Spanish league restart

Sport is one of the universal lenses used to understand the realities of COVID-19, but Canadian basketball player Kevin Pangos is experiencing first hand how foggy that lens has become.

From Holland Landing, Ont., the 27-year-old guard was slated to participate in three competitions, and the coronavirus has affected each of them differently: one has been cancelled, another postponed and a third recently announced it will finish its season this summer.

Being the athlete caught in the middle makes an already confusing situation even more conflicting for Pangos, who has been stuck in his Barcelona apartment with his wife and their baby girl waiting for news on whether he’ll be asked to play.

“As an athlete you have mixed feelings with wanting to play because of that competitive side, and keeping your body safe, your family safe and your future safe,” Pangos told CBC Sports. “Because if you get injured, that’s possibly next year’s contract and next year’s opportunity to play.

“At the end of the day, I’m still trying to grasp what’s going on like everyone else.”

Multiple leagues, multiple feelings

Pangos is a member of Canada’s national team, which had its qualification journey paused when the International Olympic Committee historically postponed Tokyo 2020 until the summer of 2021. So Pangos no longer had to worry about that.

But he also plays for FC Barcelona, a city team that plays in both the Liga Endesa (Spain) and EuroLeague. The latter officially cancelled its season on May 25, unable to find an option that could ensure the safety of players and fans as well as maintain the integrity of the season.

Canada guard Kevin Pangos drives to the basket during a game against Nigeria in 2019. The national squad’s Olympic qualification was put on hold after the postponement of Tokyo 2020. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Liga Endesa, on the other hand, announced Wednesday it will finish its season in a two-week tournament in June, where 12 teams will battle for the league title.

“Honestly, I was shocked at first,” Pangos said about hearing the news. “For a while people were ruling it out … but the past week or so people were finally realizing it could happen, especially because the German soccer league had started up.”

Pangos admits the notion of playing again is an exciting one, despite the obvious concerns around whether the league’s precautions will be sufficient. Especially in a sport like basketball where keeping distance is impossible.

“At this point again, I’m just trying to control what I can control which is getting my body ready to play,” Pangos said. “No use in looking at it from the other side … As long as the testing is regular and they’re doing their part to make that part safe, I’m ok with [playing] because I’m comfortable people will be healthy and not have the virus.”

On the other hand, he does respect EuroLeague’s decision to cancel the remainder of its season.

“I think at the end of the day EuroLeague got it right and they kind of bit the bullet,” he said. “Financially it’s probably not going to be very good for EuroLeague but I think they made the right decision and I think people respect that, especially athletes seeing they’re going to take a hit but they’re looking out for our best interests and our safety.”

How safe will it be?

But EuroLeague has challenges the Spanish league does not. Each European country has different laws and regulations in place, making logistics difficult and allowing for some teams to prepare better than others.

Spain will keep things local, with players travelling to Valencia and quarantining prior to the June 17th start date. And the league has kept tabs on athletes: Pangos and his teammates were tested at least three times in the past two weeks. Plus their training facility was highly monitored: athletes wear masks, enter in one door and exit through another and show up and leave in their practice clothes since locker rooms are closed.

“The biggest thing now is just [whether] we have sufficient preparations so that our bodies stay ready and not get injured,” said Pangos.

Canada’s Kevin Pangos dribbles by the United States’ Kemba Walker during an exhibition game in 2019. Spain’s Liga Endesa announced Wednesday it will finish its season in a two-week tournament in June, including Pango’s Barcelona. (Rick Rycroft/The Associated Press)

And that’s become a sticky point. With less than a month to go until tipoff, many doubt there’s enough time to be physically ready. Spain had very strict policies, only allowing households to leave their homes for groceries or emergencies.

“We had our first contact practice today as a team,” Pangos said. “But up until now I had maybe 20 metres that I could’ve run on the balcony, so that’s all you would’ve had to go into playing a sport professionally.

“You’re definitely not ready for the demands your body is going to take and it definitely puts you at risk. It’s not like you’re taking a normal two months off.”

Pangos says details surrounding the tournament are still up in the air and that there might be room for negotiation. But at the same time, players “can’t do much about it.”

What are they playing for?

So Pangos will do what he can to help FC Barcelona to a championship, but he admits winning this title would feel different.

“You’re going out there with short prep, with a change of the environment completely and you’re going for a little tournament that’s not even the same, so for me it does change a lot,” he said. “The risk and reward of it doesn’t really fulfil me the same way, so that’s too bad but that’s the situation right now.”

Maintaining the sport’s integrity was a big part of why EuroLeague cancelled its season: changing the competition format and reducing the number of teams would change what the league set out to do. But that isn’t stopping North American leagues like the NHL or NFL from finishing or starting their respective seasons in the pandemic, and other professional athletes have started voicing their doubts.

“We’re not robots out there,” Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Thompson told Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. “People out there are saying, `Hey, with all that’s going on, we need sports back in our lives to get our minds off everything.’ That’s all good. But you’ve got to think about this, too: When we start back in training camp, you’re putting 90 guys from 90 different places all together … and it happens a lot that a lot of us get sick.”

But for now, all athletes like Pangos can do is have faith their leagues have the right plans in place and that now is indeed the right time for sport to fight back against COVID-19 … a reality we’ll learn soon enough.

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Longer road, but less limbo for Canadian athletes headed to Tokyo Games

On the coldest, wettest, hardest days on Elk Lake, rower Hillary Janssens told herself and her numb hands “this is the last winter we have to do this before Tokyo.”

It wasn’t.

The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizing committee announced dates for the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday, and that had Canadian athletes contemplating what that means for them.

The Summer Olympics will now open July 23, 2021, a year after the originally-scheduled July 24 opening ceremonies. The Paralympics start Aug. 24 a year minus a day later.

An Olympic Games has been rescheduled for the first time in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected hundreds of thousands and killed thousands world-wide.

Janssens of Cloverdale, B.C., and her teammate Caileigh Filmer of Victoria won a world title in the women’s pair in 2018 as well as bronze medal at last year’s world championship.

The duo emerged from a gruelling winter on the water feeling ready to race and win in Tokyo.

‘Do it again’

They’ll now train longer and harder to achieve that goal in 2021.

“This past year, we’re going to have to do again,” Filmer said Monday. “It is tough having to go through another winter. It’s exhausting.

“But my partner Hillary and I can take it on together and we can get through it and do it even better.”

Tokyo felt so close for wrestler Erica Wiebe of Stittsville, Ont., when she qualified for the Games on March 14. The Olympic champion is now wrapping her head around an extra 16 months of preparation.

“I kind of hoped they would happen earlier in 2021,” Wiebe said. “Now, it’s like ‘OK, it’s a full year of waiting.’ The only thing you can do is go back to the drawing board. For my sport, there’s always things I can do better.

“I think about pushing the limits of what my body would have been capable of. Here’s another year to become a more dangerous wrestler when it comes time.”

WATCH | IOC selects 2021 Olympic dates:

The International Olympic Committee announced Tokyo 2020 will be held in the summer of 2021, from July 23 to August 8. 2:48

Canadian sprint star Andre de Grasse of Markham, Ont., appreciates firm dates to anchor his training.

“It’s nice to have some new dates to focus on,” he said. “There’s always room for improvement, so I’m going to use this additional year to get better in all areas of my events.”

Calgary paratriathlete and world champion Stefan Daniel is pleased he’ll race at the same time next year. The 23-year-old doesn’t have to toss aside his planning and preparation for the heat he’s expecting.

“It changes the preparation for everybody if it was in the spring,” Daniel said. “Obviously conditions would be a lot cooler and it would be a very different type of race.

“Now everyone can go back to the original plan of getting ready for extreme heat. It’s nice to have it the same as it would have been.”

Uncertainty abounds

Canada led the charge for a postponement, declaring on March 22 that the country would not send teams to Tokyo if the Games went ahead this summer. Australia made the same decision that day.

Less than 36 hours later, the IOC and Tokyo organizing committee announced the decision to delay a year after initially saying four weeks was needed to weigh options.

The new dates announced Monday lessened some of the uncertainty athletes have been feeling. There is a target on the distant horizon while they wait for their dedicated training facilities to re-open, and for Olympic qualification processes to re-start.

“We can start dreaming,” said two-time Olympic trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan of King City, Ont.

“It’s really great for athletes to have more clarity and not have to wait longer than we need to to have that clarity.

“We’re all still going to be sitting here waiting to hear when our international seasons start up again and the rest of the qualification process.

“It allows us to start planning and get creative with what we can do at home, and obviously start thinking with our coaches and our support team about what we can do in the long run too.”

Canadian men’s field hockey captain Scott Tupper appreciates the luxury of time not only for athletes, but for the world to get the virus under control.

“For myself and our team, I’m just happy that we have some clarity and a firm timeline to work with moving forward,” said the 33-year-old from Vancouver.

“This allows us to be responsible now and prioritize our protocols for helping slow the spread of COVID, before getting back to training and pursuing our Tokyo dreams.”

And Janssens is prepared to tell herself again in the boats next winter “this is the last one before Tokyo.”

“The reward is going to be even sweeter at the end, the longer we have to train our butts off to get there,” Janssens said.

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Hong Kong in limbo as extradition protests crisis deepens

Hong Kong’s legislature suspended meetings Thursday as leaders considered their next steps following a day of violent clashes between police and protesters opposed to a bill that would allow suspects to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.

Critics say the measure, now on hold, would undermine the city’s cherished legal autonomy amid moves by Beijing to tighten its hold over the former British colony.

Several hundred young protesters gathered Thursday on a pedestrian bridge, standing for hours and singing Sing Hallelujah to the Lord, and holding up signs with messages such as, “Don’t shoot” and “End the violence.”

The debris-strewn area around the city’s government headquarters, which was besieged by the demonstrators a day earlier, was blocked off by police.

Footage from Wednesday shows police firing tear gas at Hong Kong protesters:

Police in Hong Kong fired tear gas at demonstrators protesting against an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China. 0:53

Police said they arrested 11 people on charges such as assaulting police officers and unlawful assembly. Assistant Police Commissioner Yuen Yuk-kin said 22 officers had been injured. Hospital officials said they were treating 79 people for protest-related injuries as of Thursday morning.

The extradition bill, which will cover Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the city, has sparked concerns it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong’s international financial status.

“We are ready to have a protracted war with the government,” said one protester, Natalie Wong. “I am young, that’s why I have to fight for Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council delayed a second reading of the controversial extradition on Thursday after police and protesters clashed outside government buildings as tensions continue over the bill. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Authorities have shut government offices in the financial district for the rest of the week after some of the worst violence in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.

On Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes to clear demonstrators from the legislature, with officials saying 72 people had been admitted to hospital by 10 p.m. local time.

It was the third night of violence since a protest on Sunday drew what organizers said was more than a million people in the biggest street demonstration since the 1997 handover. The Civil Human Rights Front which organized that march, said it was planning another demonstration for Sunday.

Several thousand demonstrators stayed until the early hours of morning near the legislature in the Admiralty district, while thousands more retreated to the Central business district, overlooked by the towers of some of Asia’s biggest firms and hotel chains, including HSBC and AIA.

Hong Kong’s benchmark stock exchange slid as much as 1.5 per cent on Thursday, extending losses from the previous day.

Most roads around the business district were opening for traffic, but Pacific Place, a prime shopping mall next to the legislature, stayed shut.

Banks, including Standard Chartered, Bank of China and DBS, said they had suspended branch services in the area.

Banks in the Central district emphasized it was “business as usual” but many offered staff the option of working from home.

“As a precaution, we shut two outlets early where the protests were taking place. Our priorities are the safety of our employees and supporting our customers,” said HSBC, whose ground-level public space at its headquarters has previously been a focal point for protests.

At least 72 people were sent to hospital following a day of violence Wednesday. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Hong Kong’s China-backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the violence late on Wednesday and urged a swift restoration of order.

While acknowledging the controversy, Lam has refused to postpone or withdraw the bill, which she and her officials say is necessary to plug “loopholes” that allow the city to be a haven for criminals wanted on the mainland.

Lam has said the courts would provide human rights safeguards in vetting case-by-case extraditions to mainland China.

Opponents, including leading lawyers and rights groups, say China’s justice system is marked by torture and forced confessions, arbitrary detention and poor access to lawyers.

In an impromptu media standup in the legislature, democratic lawmakers strongly criticized Lam’s heavy-handed police response.

“We are not a haven for criminals, but we have become a haven of violent police. Firing at our children? None of the former chief executives dared to do that,” said legislator Fernando Cheung.

“But ‘mother Carrie Lam’ did it. What kind of mother is she? I have never seen such an evil-hearted mother.”

In editorials on Thursday, Chinese state media said the protests were “hammering” Hong Kong’s reputation.

“It is lawlessness that will hurt Hong Kong, not the proposed amendments to its fugitive law,” said the English-language China Daily.

Diplomatic pressure

Amnesty International joined domestic rights groups in condemning Wednesday’s use of police force as excessive, while a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva said it was following the situation closely.

“We call on all parties to express their views peacefully and on Hong Kong’s authorities to engage in an inclusive and transparent dialogue over the draft legislation,” the spokesperson said.

Diplomatic pressure was also building after leaders such as British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the protests.

The European Union said it shared many Hong Kong citizens’ concerns over the proposed extradition reforms and urged an in-depth public consultation.

“This is a sensitive issue, with potentially far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong and its people, for EU and foreign citizens, as well as for business confidence,” it said in a statement.

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Status of high school rugby in Nova Scotia still in limbo

A memo to schools from the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation says its board of governors “have not resolved” the rugby issue, days after the province’s education minister ordered the sport be reinstated in public schools.

The memo, sent by executive director Stephen Gallant Sunday, said as is the case with any sport not sanctioned by the federation, it’s up to a principal to decide whether a game can be played.

The athletic federation announced last Thursday at noon that it was cancelling the sport effective immediately due to safety concerns. The decision prompted a large outcry from players, parents and coaches

Top doctors and some sports health professionals in the province also questioned the sudden decision and students athletes across the province protested.

On Friday afternoon Education Minister Zach Churchill ordered the decision be reversed. He released a statement saying the athletic federation neglected to consult school communities about the move and did not inform the Education Department it intended to make the decision public.

He asked the federation to work with his department in putting together a panel of experts to look at the safety in school sports.

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Who represents Venezuela? With no clear answer, international aid stuck in limbo

Three days after proclaiming himself Venezuela's head of state, Juan Guaido wrote to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres asking for help in tackling the country's urgent humanitarian crisis.

But Venezuela's seat at the 193-member world body is held by President Nicolas Maduro's government and Guterres is unable to ramp up a humanitarian response in Venezuela without Maduro's approval or UN Security Council authorization.

"The United Nations are ready to increase their activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development," Guterres told Guaido in a letter dated Jan. 29 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

"For that, the United Nations need, however, the consent and co-operation of the government."

The exchange illustrates how a U.S.-led campaign for international recognition of Guaido over Maduro has left the UN and other international organizations caught in the middle of global division over the issue.

Canada and most Latin American and European countries have recognized Guaido or are on the verge of doing so. But these rapid endorsements have triggered angry responses from Russia, China and a few left-leaning Latin American states.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who wield veto powers over the body's decisions, include the U.S., Russia and China.

Interventions stalled

The international split is also hampering swift decisions at other multilateral groups like the Washington-headquartered International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, whose recognition of the Guaido government could eventually help get sorely needed loans to Venezuela.

Maduro's government has denied that there is a humanitarian crisis in the country, blaming economic problems on international sanctions. Venezuela is struggling with hunger, preventable diseases and hyperinflation forecast at 10 million per cent in 2019.

The quickest way for a country or countries to try and deprive Maduro's government of Venezuela's UN seat would be to present a draft resolution to the General Assembly for a vote. However, diplomats said that such a move could not currently garner the majority support needed to be successful. Each UN member state has one vote in the General Assembly.

Nicolas Maduro's allies, including Russia and China, continue to recognize him as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, despite a U.S.-led effort to proclaim Guaido the country's rightful leader. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

"We do think there will be appropriate resolutions when the time is right and we'll certainly support those. They won't come just from us, they'll come from other nations who care deeply abut the Venezuelan people as well," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the UN on Saturday.

Maduro was sworn in on Jan. 10 for a second term in office after elections last year that were widely dubbed illegitimate, while Guaido took the helm of the elected National Assembly earlier this month and on Jan. 23 proclaimed himself the country's rightful leader.

Security Council impasse

A heated Security Council meeting on Saturday revealed the bitter divide over the crisis.

When asked about the possibility of a showdown over Venezuela's UN seat, Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Maduro's government was legitimate and there was no need to challenge its credentials.

The UN has previously had to address competing claims for representation at the world body.

In September 2011, the General Assembly approved a Libyan request to accredit envoys of the country's interim government as Tripoli's sole representatives at the world body, effectively recognizing the National Transitional Council. The move came after the United States, Russia, China and European nations had all recognized that council.

So far, Guaido has named envoys to Washington and the Organization of American States regional bloc. If he decided to name a UN envoy, such a request would traditionally be sent to Guterres and then considered by a nine-member credentials committee, which includes the United States, Russia and China.

The UN Security Council discussed the situation in Venezuela on Saturday, but showed no consensus over which Venezuelan leader the international community should recognize. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

The IMF and World Bank could eventually test support for Guaido through a straw poll of member countries that make up their respective executive boards, according to several bank and fund officials. The United States is the largest and most influential member country in both organizations.

Latin America's largest lender, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), could be the first financial institution to put the issue before its board. Such a move could occur as early as next week, according to some officials. Several board officials, however, cautioned that the membership was divided and there was no consensus on how to proceed.

Still, recognition by global lenders of Guaido will not automatically unlock multilateral funding any time soon, officials said. Venezuela is $ 212 million US in arrears to the IADB and was censured by the IMF last year for failing to provide economic data to the fund.

"It is not obvious what the UN is going to do, much less what the IMF would do," said James Boughton, the IMF's former historian, now at the Center for International Governance Innovation.

"It would be up to a member country to request the acknowledgement of a new government, in this case it would come from the U.S.," said Boughton.

When that happens, "then it is just a question of a simple majority decision by the executive board," citing IMF rules.

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