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Most at risk, first in line: Public health experts say racialized Canadians should be prioritized for vaccines

Two public health experts in Toronto say governments must prioritize vaccinating Black Canadians and other people of colour against COVID-19 because the data shows they are most at risk of contracting the virus.

Akwatu Khenti and Ananya Tina Banerjee told CBC Radio’s The House that failing to vaccinate those communities will not only put them at greater risk of getting COVID-19, but also increases the chance that the virus will spread more widely.

“The reason that Black people have a higher rate of positivity, or higher hospitalization rates, is actually because of social inequities, systemic racism and neighborhood vulnerabilities,” said Khenti, who teaches at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and chairs the city’s Black Scientists Task Force on Vaccine Equity.

“If we use some type of vulnerability index we would arrive at the same conclusion, the most vulnerable should be first in line. Right now, the most vulnerable are racialized health professionals, racialized communities.”

Banerjee founded the South Asian Health Research Hub, and like Khenti, is on the faculty at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She said the data shows racialized communities are not only hardest hit by the virus, but many people in those communities work in manufacturing, distribution, the service industry and travel to their jobs using public transportation.

“And so given this information, it has to be prioritized that … the hardest hit neighbourhoods have to get vaccinated first or community transmission is just going to escalate,” she told The House.

CBC News: The House10:31Building an equitable vaccine rollout

Akwatu Khenti, chair of Toronto’s Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, and Ananya Tina Banerjee, founder of the South Asian Health Research Hub, share what’s needed to create an inoculation campaign that provides equal access to shots. 10:31

Advisory committee looking at next priority groups

CBC News put those concerns to Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Friday.

Tam noted that the goal of prioritizing specific groups or locations, such as congregate settings, is to reduce serious illness. But, she added, different provinces would use their own evidence to inform their rollout plans.

She said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) created last year is examining the next set of priority populations for vaccines as deliveries begin to ramp up in the weeks ahead.

“For example, if you are in Toronto or if you’re in Ontario, they’ve already got data in relationship to where those higher risk populations are and that they be considered as part of the rollout for the prioritization of vaccines.”

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said Friday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is looking at who should be next in line for a vaccine. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ontario’s Ministry of Health told CBC News that the province is already collecting some demographic information, including age and sex, from people receiving vaccinations on a voluntary basis; it is also exploring how additional data might be used “to support the efficient, equitable and effective vaccine rollout for communities that are at-risk and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

The statement goes on to say that the ministry recognizes Black and racialized communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and is working with local health authorities to establish guidelines for delivering the shots.

“The ministry works with its health system partners to ensure the guidance and information provided is clearly understood by all partners regarding the prioritization of populations for COVID-19 vaccines.

Racialized populations at risk elsewhere

The federal government already identified the need to prioritize Indigenous communities for vaccination. But this country isn’t alone in grappling with how to protect the most vulnerable sectors of the population from COVID-19 amid shortages of vaccine doses.

In the United States, Black and Hispanic Americans are bearing the brunt of infections, hospitalizations and death linked to the coronavirus. Experts there, and in Canada, are warning that the lack of race-based data on vaccinations runs the risk of leaving those same communities behind.

Khenti said part of the effort needed now is to overcome the reluctance of some people in racialized communities to get the vaccine by working with community partners and other local agencies.

“You have to work through trusted partners because the issue isn’t just one of information, it’s one of trust. And to date, many institutions haven’t made the effort to earn that trust,” he said. “Systemic racism has been ignored. It hasn’t been given the priority that it deserves, especially with respect to anti-Black racism, which is the issue facing my task force.”

Community outreach critical

That kind of community outreach is being credited with reducing coronavirus infections in South Asian communities in BC’s lower mainland

The province, like most others, doesn’t systematically track race-based COVID-19 data. But Banerjee told The House it’s possible to replicate anywhere.

“I mean, think about it. We need to bring the vaccine to the people and meet them where they’re at right now … We need to be thinking about that. We can’t just rely on these large health care systems, malls and chain pharmacies to have these vaccination programs,” she said.

Ananya Tina Banerjee, a faculty member at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said vaccination programs must work at the community level and meet populations where they are. (Yanjun Li/CBC News)

” And so we need to be, I think, at these access points of trust, as we call it. Just this past weekend in the U.K., there were hundreds of people actually vaccinated at a pop up clinic set up by the East London mosque to encourage Muslims to be inoculated and given their widespread concerns about the vaccination. And I think that is an incredible model that is community driven, that can be rolled out to temples, churches, gurdwaras, mosques in Ontario, especially if you want to target those racialized communities.”

But both Khenti and Banerjee warned that time is short. New, more contagious variants of the virus are beginning to spread, increasing the need to act now to give priority to Black Canadians and others who are already at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

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CBC | Health News

Visitors to B.C. care homes deemed ‘essential’ move to front of vaccine line — others wait and worry

Jody Vance said her heart skipped a beat when she got an unexpected phone call from the long-term care facility where her elderly father lives.

She braced herself for bad news, but instead the voice on the other end told her something so many Canadians would love to hear: a dose of the Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine was being set aside for her.

“It was kind of was a little bit surreal,” she said. “It felt like hope.”

Vance got the shot because staff at the long-term care facility in Delta, B.C., declared her an “essential” visitor for her 82-year-old father. Driving him to emergency cancer surgeries during the pandemic made her eligible for such status.

To Vance, the main benefit of being vaccinated is that her dad won’t need to be isolated from her for his own protection. 

B.C. is one of the few provinces — Ontario and Nova Scotia are taking a similar approach — ushering essential visitors to the front of the vaccine line as a priority group. It’s up to the discretion of each facility to determine who is considered essential.

There is no cap in B.C. on the number of approved essential visitors, but only one will be allowed at a time with exceptions made for end-of-life care.

Those left to wait say they are also left to wonder if the delay could ultimately be too long.

Visiting loved ones in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic often means no physical contact. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A frustrating process

“I don’t know how long she’ll be with us,” said Niovi Patsicakis, speaking about her 98-year-old mother, who lives at Evergreen Long-Term Care in White Rock.

Patsicakis said her mom has been mostly confined to her room in the facility for nearly three months, and Patsicakis hasn’t been able to visit since before Christmas. She said she fears the lack of in-person mother-daughter visits has affected her mom’s health.

But unlike Vance, Patsicakis said she has not been deemed essential by her mom’s long-term care facility. 

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), essential visits include those for compassionate care reasons such as critical illness, hospice care, end of life and medical assistance in dying. They can also include visits by a person who assists with feeding, mobility and communication needs.

WATCH | British Columbians with loved ones in long-term care talk about their experiences trying to get vaccine priority: 

As the vaccine rolls out in long-term care homes across the country, some provinces, including British Columbia, are also prioritizing essential caregivers for a shot to benefit residents and staff. But there’s some inconsistency about who qualifies as essential. 2:03

The B.C. Health Ministry has also said a clergy member can be designated as an essential visitor.

Health authority and facility staff, in collaboration with the long-term care resident, determine who gets essential visitor status, according to BCCDC in guidelines published on Jan. 7.

Patsicakis’ visits in the past have tended to be social in nature, but Patsicakis said her mother’s health seems to be deteriorating since their loss of contact.

“I can see a huge difference in how mom has gotten much worse,” said Patsicakis. “Her language skills have weakened as well as her mood. Sometimes, she’s confused or doesn’t want to get out of bed.”

Trying to get an essential designation has been difficult and frustrating, she said.

Niovi Patsicakis, right, says she has tried multiple times to be designated as an essential visitor so she can spend time with her mom, Sophie Patsicakis, left, who is 98 years old and in a long-term care facility in White Rock, B.C. (Submitted by Niovi Patsicakis)

Patsicakis said essential visitors to Evergreen are evaluated by a group that includes facility faculty and a representative from the local health authority, Fraser Health. She said she wrote Evergreen administration three times to plead her case and filed a complaint with an advocate at the health authority’s patient quality care office.

She said she requested Evergreen’s decision be sent to her in writing in November and never received it. As of Jan. 20, she said hadn’t heard anything from Fraser Health either.

“I know so many people are devastated,” she said, adding she is part of a social media group of others like herself who are supporting one another as best they can.

The National Institute on Ageing said families in British Columbia are enduring the most restrictive long-term care home visitation policies in the country.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says decisions around who qualifies as an essential or designated visitor can be arbitrary because care-home residents and their families don’t have an association that represents them. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the lack of an association that represents residents and their families at the 300 care homes in B.C. means they don’t have a voice in policy discussions between the government and care-home operators.

She said care home operators seem to be arbitrarily deciding who qualifies as an essential or designated visitor.

Patricia Grinsteed, 91, who survived COVID-19, touches hands with her daughter through a glass barrier at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, B.C. in June. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, provided the latest numbers of people who had qualified as essential visitors during a press event on Jan. 18.

Henry said about 8,000 people have met the criteria and will receive a vaccination during the province’s first phase of a four-phase immunization program, which is underway. There are approximately 30,000 people living in long-term care facilities

“The default, we believe, should be that every person, every resident who has a person who can care for them, should have a designated essential visitor, but that has been a challenge to operationalize,” said Henry.

Applications for essential status are available on the provincial health ministry’s website. There is an appeal process for people who do not like the initial decision.

One Abbotsford long-term care home operator said the more people who are designated essential, the better.

“Because of staffing levels, this gives us that extra layer of assistance — they are doing things like supporting their loved one with feeding or mobility,” said Dan Levitt, executive director of Tabor Village. “So they need that vaccine, and that’ll make a big difference for all of us.”

B.C. Health Minister, Adrian Dix, said by March, when residents and staff at long-term care facilities have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, people will have more social visiting access to their loved ones and some daily activities put on hold will begin to resume for residents. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

During a Friday press briefing, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed the frustration felt by people disappointed to hear they are not considered essential.

“Everyone should feel that their participation, their social life, their visiting of their loved ones is essential,” he said.

Dix said vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care and assisted living facilities now could lead to eased restrictions around social visits by March, when all residents and staff are expected to have received both doses of their vaccines.

“It’s going to allow a lot of things to happen, including more visits from family members and loved ones and friends,” he said.

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CBC | Health News

Don’t expect NHL players in Canada to skip line for COVID-19 vaccine

The NHL and its players in Canada shouldn’t expect to cut in line when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination process. 

Those playing north of the border will have to wait their turn, says Anita Ho, an associate professor in bioethics and health services research at the University of British Columbia.

Ho said when deciding who receives the first rounds of vaccines for the coronavirus, high-risk groups like the elderly, long-term care workers, people living in Indigenous communities and front-line essential workers will be at the front of the line.

“Hockey players who are generally very healthy, very fit, would not fit into those criteria,” said Ho, who also is a scientist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences in Vancouver. “They would be much lower in the queue.”

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have said the league plans to resume play Jan. 13 with a 56-game schedule. The Stanley Cup playoffs would begin in May and conclude mid-July.

Gary Meagher, the NHL’s executive vice-president of communications, dismissed a report earlier this month suggesting the league is considering purchasing doses of a vaccine for its own use.

“The NHL is not looking to do so,” he said in an email.

Meagher wouldn’t comment on where NHL players should rank in order to be vaccinated.

“A question that cannot be answered at this time,” he said.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the federal government can’t stop private corporations from buying vaccines.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has developed the preliminary priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. Provincial governments will ultimately decide their own priorities.

“The provinces will have to be looking at who would be the priority populations, the elderly, those who are in more vulnerable kind of living conditions,” said Ho.

“They [NHL players] wouldn’t be that high on the list.”

The B.C. Ministry of Health said it has established “priority groups” for the vaccine, which include long-term care residents and staff, health-care facility workers, and key frontline people such as police, first responders, teachers and grocery story workers.

“Professional athletes have not been identified as a priority group particularly vulnerable to severe illness,” the ministry said in an email. “Following all priority groups, all others in B.C. can get the vaccine as it becomes available, if the vaccine is recommended for them.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo breakdown NHL’s return-to-play plan:

It’s official: hockey is back, but it will look a little different this year. 2:08

A spokesman for the Ontario’s Ministry of Health also said the province is following the National Advisory Committee’s guidelines.

“Our goal is to ensure that everybody across Ontario who is eligible and who wants the vaccine can get it,” the spokesman said.

Health Canada has approved a vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and is close to authorizing another from the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has said it could be the end of September before the country has enough doses to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot.

“Hockey players, they will get there,” said Ho. “But it will be later on, just like other healthy individuals.”

‘That divides people’

But Ho said it would look bad for leagues like the NHL or NBA to purchase vaccines for their own use at a time when they are also taking a stand on social justice issues and denouncing racism.

“If you were to jump the queue, and there are so many people who are in vulnerable positions dying … then you are really saying that some lives matter more than others,” she said. “We often think how sports brings people together and there’s a sense of solidarity. If we were to prioritize young, health athletes over people who are frail, more vulnerable and may have no way of protecting themselves . . . that divides people.”

In the fall of 2009, members of the Calgary Flames were given swine flue shots at a special clinic where thousands of other people waited in lines or were turned away. The Flames were widely criticized, and the Alberta Health Services fired a senior staff member over the incident.

Ho also said foreign-born hockey players in Canada should have the same access to the vaccine as their Canadian teammates.

“COVID does not discriminate,” she said. “The Canadian government would be wise to make sure that anyone who is residing [here], regardless of your national origin, if you are at risk, get vaccinated.

“If someone was not born here, but they’re living here, they could still be infecting others. One way to protect your own people is to protect everybody.”

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CBC | Sports News

Cautious Russians weigh the risks of being among the 1st in line to try Sputnik V vaccine

As Russia’s mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign got underway this week, thousands of Russians rolled up their sleeves and volunteered to be among the first to get their arms jabbed with a dose of Sputnik V.

Many others, however, appear to be holding back to see how things turn out for those who did.

“People are worried because they don’t understand how the vaccine is made, and they see a lot of controversy in the media,” said Dr. Yevgeny Timakov, a Moscow-based infectious disease specialist.

“Most of my patients — about 80 per cent — want to get vaccinated, but of those … [only] 20 per cent are ready to do it right now,” he told CBC News in an interview.

His observations reflect what might be a broad public hesitancy to take a vaccine that has been developed, approved and delivered to the public in a record-shattering time frame.

Dr. Olga Moskova gets vaccinated against the coronavirus. She told CBC News that while the vaccine may not yet be perfect, getting it is ‘the right thing to do’ for now. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

What Timakov is hearing from his patients echoes the findings of a public opinion survey done by the independent Lavada Institute in October. It suggests vaccine distrust among Russians has increased as the pandemic has worsened, with 59 per cent of those surveyed suggesting they are unwilling to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness.

Another survey published around the same time by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported that more than 70 per cent of Russian did not plan to get vaccinated. 

Still awaiting full Phase 3 results

Russia’s vaccine, whose name is meant to invoke memories of Soviet-era success in space, was the first in the world to be registered in August and since then, tens of thousands of health care workers, teachers, military personnel and others with government connections have taken it.

However, the vaccine’s initial success was championed on the basis of results involving a small sample of less than 100 volunteers.    

Subsequent results derived from larger Phase 3 trials have validated those early findings, but Sputnik V’s developer has yet to publish those full results like Western vaccine developers have done.

Pfizer/BioNTech published its safety data yesterday as part of its approval process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Vials of Sputnik V at BIOCAD, a biotechnology company in Saint Petersburg. While some in the West have criticized the lack of transparency around the Russian vaccine’s development, others say the underlying science is sound and in line with other COVID-19 vaccines. (Anton Vaganov/Reuters)

“People are wary of vaccination and are waiting for the end of clinical trials and [to] see that the vaccine works. All this they will see in time,” said Timakov, who supports the vaccine and is encouraging Russians to take it.

Its maker, the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, has said it hopes more than two million Russians can be vaccinated by the end of the month although it’s unclear if that target can be met.

Russia repeatedly promised a national vaccination program throughout the fall, but production delays kept pushing the start date back.

‘The right thing to do’

CBC News visited one of the 70 hospitals and clinics in the Moscow area that began administering the vaccine this week as part of the national immunization program.    

Many of those who signed up to be among the first to get inoculated were health care workers, at higher risk of contracting the virus.

“You need to get vaccinated because you need to keep working,” said Dr. Olga Maskova.

Like everyone else who received the vaccine, Maskova was handed an information sheet listing the possible short-term side effects, including chills, fever and skin irritation.   

‘My role as a doctor is to explain the risks there will be if they don’t take the vaccine,’ says Natalia Kuzinkova, head physician at Clinic No. 68 (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

“I’m absolutely convinced that this is the right step,” she said. “Later, the vaccine might be perfected, and maybe there will be other vaccines, but I think this is the right thing to do at this time.”

Sputnik V is an adenovirus-based platform that uses a modified common cold virus to trigger the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the coronavirus and requires a booster shot 21 days after the first injection. 

It’s a similar process to the one used by Oxford University and AstraZeneca for its vaccine. 

India, South Korea, U.A.E. sign on for Sputnik

Western experts have been split on the Russian vaccine, with some bemoaning the lack of transparency of the trials and the reliance on early data to draw sweeping conclusions about its effectiveness.    

Others, however, argue the science behind the vaccine is proven, and it will likely make an important contribution to fighting the virus globally once it is in widespread use.

Natalia Kuzinkova, the chief doctor at Clinic No. 68, the facility CBC News visited, said she understands there may be reticence to be among the first to get vaccinated but that the risks of waiting are far greater.

“My role as a doctor is to explain the risks there will be if they don’t take the vaccine,” she said. “Yes, I hear the opinions,  but my responsibility is to tell them that if they haven’t been sick yet, they could still get sick and die.”

The Kremlin has fought an intense global public relations campaign to sell its vaccine to COVID-weary customers abroad but also to demonstrate Russian superiority in an area that was once a point of pride for the former Soviet Union: vaccine production.

Few Western governments, with the notable exception of Hungary in the European Union, have thus far expressed an interest in the Russian vaccine. However, dozens of nations in other parts of the world, including India, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, have signed agreements to buy it.

The Sputnik V vaccine arrives at Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest in November. Hungary is the only EU country to express interest in the Russian vaccine thus far. (Matyas Borsos/Hungarian Foreign Ministry/Reuters)

Process moving too fast, say some

While some of the concerns over the virus are clearly rooted in the adversarial nature of the relationship between Putin and his counterparts in Europe and North America, they have also been amplified by Russia’s own bragging about the vaccine’s success and the timing of proclamations that appeared designed to one-up announcements by Western vaccine makers.

The CBC News team in Moscow visited the Kuznetsky Most pedestrian mall a few blocks from the Kremlin to ask people at random if they planned to sign up for the vaccination.

Most told us they would not.

“I don’t trust this vaccine,” said Artyom Bagamayev. “The trials usually take many years, but here, it’s just a bit too fast.”

“In the past, it was an arms race, but now, it’s a biological one, a vaccine race.”

Natalia Panfilova agreed.

“You can’t produce an effective vaccine in such a short period of time and test it and say it’s effective,” she said. “I don’t understand if it works or if it doesn’t work or how effective it is.”

A medical worker receives their Sputnik V vaccination. Phase 3 trials of the vaccine are not yet complete. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC )

Putin not yet vaccinated

The potential for vaccine hesitancy is clearly not unique to Russia, but it may be accentuated by a longstanding lack of trust in the country’s health care system.

Hospitals in many parts of the country are being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, and social media has been inundated with videos shot by patients showing deplorable conditions.

So far during this second wave of coronavirus cases, Russian authorities in most cities, including the capital, Moscow, have been reluctant to invoke lockdowns because of the heavy economic toll it might inflict on an already struggling economy.

The severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 500 deaths a day, also makes getting a large public buy-in to the vaccine program even more essential if the virus is to be brought under control.

While many prominent Russians have been shown on TV getting their vaccinations, the most prominent person in the country, and the vaccine’s biggest cheerleader, so far has not.

The Kremlin says Putin has not taken the two doses of COVID-19 and has not yet offered a time frame on when he will do so.

WATCH | Why some Russians are wary of getting the Sputnik V vaccine:

Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered to the general population despite still being in Phase 3 trials. One Russian doctor says only 20 per cent of his patients want to be first in line to get it because of concerns over safety and efficacy. Some in the West have also been skeptical, but scientists in the U.K. have said the results of the Sputnik trials have been consistent with those of other vaccines. 2:01

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CBC | World News

The NBA season might not line up the best for Canada’s Olympic hopes

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

It looks like the NBA is coming back before Christmas — but that may not be soon enough for the Canadian men’s national team

Nothing is official yet, but the NBA and the players’ union are reportedly close to agreeing on a 72-game season that starts Dec. 22 and sees the Finals end before the Summer Olympics. ESPN reported that the union reps from each team were going to vote on the proposal today, and they were expected to approve it. Both sides expected the Dec. 22 start date to be settled by the end of the week, according to the report.

Other issues need to be worked out as well, including two related to the massive revenue losses caused by the pandemic. Those are the salary cap for next season and what percentage of players’ salaries will be held in escrow — and presumably kept by the owners because it doesn’t look like fans will be allowed back in arenas anytime soon (though owners are now reportedly hoping for limited seating in luxury boxes and courtside — the priciest areas). ESPN reported that, rather than withhold 35-40 per cent of players’ salaries for the upcoming season (roughly equal to the slice of revenue the league claims is lost by not having fans in attendance), owners will take back 18 per cent in each of the next two years to smooth out the financial hit a little for the players.

Assuming everything goes ahead as planned, the calendar will look like this: Draft on Nov. 18 (that’s already scheduled), free agency shortly after that, and training camps opening Dec. 1. The regular season should end in mid-May, allowing for a full playoff tournament to conclude by mid-July.

That would allow NBA players to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, which open July 23. But it still leaves the Canadian men’s national team in a tricky spot. Their last-chance qualifier is scheduled for June 29-July 4 in Victoria, and Canada has to win the six-team tournament to reach the Olympics for the first time since 2000.

The Canadian team could be stronger than ever with NBA standouts Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander potentially forming an excellent backcourt, and a pretty deep pool of NBA talent to support them. But if, say, Murray’s Denver Nuggets are still alive in the playoffs at the end of June (they made the final four this year) or guys are just tired from a compressed season that’s starting very close to the end of the last one, Canada might go into that qualifier without some of its best players. Read more about how the teams hopes are tied to the NBA schedule in this story by CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could form an excellent Canadian national team backcourt with Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)


Vancouver still hasn’t decided if it will look into bidding on the 2030 Winter Olympics. City council voted last night to postpone the decision on whether to explore the possibility of a bid, likely until early in the new year. If they eventually decide to move ahead, the city would feel out the federal and provincial governments about funding for the bid (they cost a fair bit to prepare) and also seek input from the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees and local First Nations. Only then would a decision be made on whether to launch a bid. The person in government pushing hardest for one right now is city councillor Melissa De Genova, who thinks the Olympics could help Vancouver’s recovery from the pandemic. 2030 will mark 20 years since the city hosted the Winter Olympics, but some of the venues used for those Games are either obsolete or have been converted for other uses. Read more about Vancouver possibly exploring the possibility of another Olympic bid here.

Some Canadian skiers are being sent home from Europe because of coronavirus concerns. CTV reported that multiple members of Canada’s ski cross team contracted the virus in Switzerland, where they were training for the upcoming season, and that one of the athletes is “seriously ill.” Alpine Canada, the organization that oversees the ski cross team, among others, refused to comment on the report. But a spokesperson told CBC Sports that a decision was made to “relocate some teams to Canadian venues where athletes can take part in on-snow training in anticipation of World Cup races and the world championships.” Read more about the situation with Alpine Canada’s skiers here.

Milos Raonic reached the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters. This is a good tournament. It’s worth 1,000 rankings points to the winner (putting it in the tier below only the Grand Slams and the year-end ATP Finals) and the total purse is around $ 4.5 million US. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic decided to skip it, but No. 2 Rafael Nadal is playing (and picked up his 1,000th career win yesterday). Raonic, who’s ranked 17th in the world and seeded 10th in Paris, advanced to the final eight today by defeating unseeded Marcos Giron for his third straight-sets win in as many matches. His next opponent is 34th-ranked Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who beat Marin Cilic today.

Canada’s Kelsey Wog won two more races in the International Swimming League. Wog, who competes for the Toronto Titans team, took today’s women’s 200-metre breaststroke and 200m individual medley and also helped Toronto’s women’s 4×100 medley relay team finish second in its race. The other Canadian winners today were Kylie Masse (women’s 50 backstroke) and Brent Hayden, who anchored Toronto’s men’s 4×100 freestyle relay team to victory. This was day 1 of the two-day match, which concludes Friday from 4-6 a.m. ET. Another match, not involving the Titans, is also taking place and it wraps up Friday from 10 a.m.-noon ET. You can stream every race in both matches live here.

Tonight and tomorrow on CBC Sports

Besides the International Swimming League races already mentioned, here’s what’s coming up:

Women’s golf: The second round of the Korean LPGA Tour’s Hana Financial Group Championship is streaming live here from midnight-3 a.m. ET, with a replay here from noon-3 p.m. ET.

Grand Prix of Figure Skating — Cup of China: The second Grand Prix of the season (Skate America was two weeks ago, then Skate Canada was cancelled) begins Friday at 2:30 a.m. ET with the opening round of the ice dance event. That’s followed immediately by the women’s, pairs and men’s short programs. The skates run until about 7 a.m. ET and you can stream them all live here.

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CBC | Sports News

Banned for life by FIFA, former soccer officials line up to appeal

The first of a number of appeals by former soccer officials banned for life by FIFA was heard Tuesday at sport’s highest court.

FIFA said Ariel Alvarado — a former member of its ethics committee — challenged its verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Alvarado is one of at least 29 officials banned for life by soccer’s governing body in the last five years.

The Panamanian’s case kicked off a monthly series of upcoming appeals at CAS brought by Latin American soccer officials removed from soccer after being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on various charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy.

The sports court has scheduled an appeal in August by disgraced former Brazil soccer boss Ricardo Teixeira, who has questioned if the U.S. federal evidence is accurate.

Next up in September is Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay who was convicted at a 2017 trial in Brooklyn. The conviction was upheld on appeal last month.

Another Brazilian, Marco Polo del Nero, is expected to have an October date with CAS, and an appeal is pending for Manuel Burga who was banned by almost two years after the Peruvian was acquitted by the same jury which convicted Napout.

CAS said Tuesday that Alvarado’s hearing was conducted by video link from the court in Lausanne, Switzerland — a process made routine by travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, other remote hearings are likely simply because the appellants — such as Teixeira and Del Nero — risk arrest in Switzerland since their indictments were unsealed by the Justice Department in December 2015.

Del Nero fled Zurich in May 2015 in the aftermath of early morning raids at luxury hotels in the city to arrest top soccer officials attending FIFA meetings and a presidential election.

Arrests revealed sprawling corruption, bribery

Those arrests revealed the sprawling — and ongoing — American and Swiss investigations of bribery and corruption worth tens of millions of dollars linked to marketing deals and hosting votes for the World Cup and other international competitions.

The American case developed over years from early targeting of Chuck Blazer, the most senior elected American at FIFA for more than a decade who became a co-operating witness.

Blazer’s life ban, imposed by FIFA on July 9, 2015, was the first of around 30 so far arising from the Justice Department evidence. Blazer was seriously ill at the time and died in 2017.

Alvarado was found guilty last year by FIFA, relying on American evidence, of getting at least $ 230,000 US in bribes linked to commercial contracts World Cup qualifying games and the CONCACAF Gold Cup from 2009 to 2011. At the same time, he sat in judgment of other soccer officials summoned before the FIFA ethics panel.

At his own FIFA ethics hearing, Alvarado argued he was a victim of double jeopardy because the North American governing body, CONCACAF, has previously banned him from soccer in the region.

Teixeira, however, disputed the U.S. evidence in a wider federal investigation that has seen guilty pleas, convictions and indictments from dozens of soccer and marketing officials.

The FIFA allegations against Teixieira, his lawyers argued last year, “are no more than assumptions made by U.S. attorneys, without any evidence to support the indictment.”

Teixieira, like many others, was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($ 1.06 million US) by FIFA ethics judges.

The first verdicts from CAS judges are likely late this year and should continue into 2021.

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CBC | Soccer News

Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka hit in head by Giancarlo Stanton line drive

With Masahiro Tanaka crumpled motionless on the mound, Aaron Judge repeatedly waved behind home plate and scolded a video journalist for taking images.

This wasn’t a scene anyone at Yankee Stadium wanted to see.

Tanaka was alert and sent to a hospital after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of New York slugger Giancarlo Stanton during live batting practice Saturday, a frightening scene moments into the team’s first official summer camp workout.

Tanaka has since been released from hospital, according to the Yankees official Twitter account.

“That took a little air out,” manager Aaron Boone said.

WATCH | Tanaka gets hit by comebacker to the mound:

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was alert and responsive after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of teammate Giancarlo Stanton. 0:53

Boone also announced that All-Star infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Luis Cessa tested positive for the coronavirus before travelling to New York and are self-isolating at home.

Tanaka’s hat flew off and he immediately collapsed to the ground and grabbed his head after being struck by Stanton’s comebacker. Trainers quickly ran to the Japanese right-hander, who stayed down for a few minutes before sitting up.

Tanaka walked off with the help of trainers. Boone said Tanaka is expected to be released from the hospital Saturday night and will go into concussion protocol.

‘It’s terrifying’

“That’s kind of a freak accident, one in a million chance of happening,” said left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who replaced Tanaka on the mound moments later. “When it does, it’s terrifying.”

Boone said Tanaka showed concussion-like symptoms at the ballpark but they dissipated at the hospital. A CT scan was negative, and the team said he was able to walk on his own.

Several hours later, the Yankees said Tanaka was released from the hospital.

The 31-year-old Tanaka was 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA last season. The Japanese star is 75-43 in six years with the Yankees.

Tanaka’s injury took an already bizarre day and turned it sombre.

Yankees players reported to New York on Wednesday for intake testing as Major League Baseball tries to start a truncated, 60-game season on July 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After spending a few days preparing the stadium to host workouts for the team’s 60-player roster pool, the Yankees gathered Saturday for their first official day back. Most coaches and some players, including Stanton, wore facemasks as the club went through drills in the eerily empty stadium.

All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman and catcher Gary Sanchez did not participate Saturday. Boone said both had travel issues that delayed their intake testing and are awaiting clearance.

LeMahieu and Cessa test positive for coronavirus

LeMahieu and Cessa won’t report until they’ve cleared quarantine. Boone said LeMahieu is asymptomatic and Cessa has mild symptoms. Boone did not say when each player tested positive.

Things started strange Saturday, then got worse.

Before they even began the workout, a few Yankees players were startled mid-stretch when someone set off a firework just outside the ballpark. More bangs intermittently echoed throughout the stadium during the July 4 session.

About 45 minutes after Tanaka was hit, a deafening siren went off inside Yankee Stadium, drowning out music playing through the PA system for about 30 seconds. Emergency lights flashed for about five minutes, as well. The alarm sounded again seconds after the team announced that Tanaka was alert.

The moment with Tanaka, of course, was most troubling of all.

Stanton, who had his jaw broken by a high fastball in 2014, bent over at home plate before walking slowly toward the mound.

Meanwhile, Judge glared at a photographer set up behind home plate and told him to stop shooting.

The moment aired live on a YES Network feed and was shared quickly on Twitter, including by sports network SNY, which airs New York Mets games.

‘Do not show that moment’

“I understand that people are doing their job and want to show everything we are doing,” tweeted shortstop Gleyber Torres. “I understand that, but showing that exact moment that happened with our teammate does not seem right to us, we feel terrible to see the video in each part of social media.

“I understand that they have to write what happened but do not show that moment, Praying for Tanaka!”

Yankees players, some still stretching at the start of the club’s first official practice, stood or knelt silently.

Stanton was the third batter Tanaka faced to start the session, and Boone said Tanaka asked to pitch without a protective screen — common for pitchers during simulated games.

Montgomery requested an L-shaped screen be set up before he started throwing to hitters about five minutes after Tanaka walked off.

“Some people like doing it, some don’t,” Montgomery said. “I requested it after that, just because I was little shaken up.”

Music playing through the PA system was shut off as Tanaka lay on the mound but was restored while Montgomery pitched. It played through the rest of the workout.

Some Yankees pitchers got another scare during batting practice, when a line drive rocketed into a pack of players gathered along the left field line. Nobody appeared to be hit by the ball.

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CBC | Sports News

Tesla Slashes Prices By Up to $5,000 on Almost Every Vehicle Line

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Tesla has cut its prices on multiple models, with price cuts of up to $ 5,000 on specific vehicles. The cuts may be an attempt to stimulate demand after the pandemic, but Tesla hasn’t announced an official rationale.

First up, the Standard Range Plus variant of the Model 3 has picked up a $ 2,000 price cut, dropping from $ 39,990 to $ 37,990. The Model S Long Range Plus is now $ 74,990, a $ 5,000 reduction from its previous price of $ 79,990. Both vehicles dropped by ~5-6 percent, so the degree of reduction is equivalent on both cars.

Click to enlarge.

Similarly, the Model S Performance is now $ 94,990, and the Model X Long Range Plus is down to $ 79,990. The only product line that doesn’t seem to have been impacted by price cuts is the Model Y, but that vehicle only recently launched, and cutting its price by $ 5,000 now would be a slap in the face to people who’ve just recently purchased the car.

The automotive market is currently in bad shape. A report from Meticulous Research suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic could knock 12-15 percent off the global automotive industry in 2020. Industry tracker ALG believes May 2020 vehicle sales will be 21 percent below May 2019. Include the impact of reduced fleet sales, and the decline is larger, down an estimated 32 percent from last year.

So, should we all expect great deals? Unclear. Hertz’s recent bankruptcy could flood the market with used vehicles because the company has already stated it intends to begin some fleet liquidation as part of its Chapter 11 proceedings. If buyers head for used vehicles instead of new ones, we could see more manufacturers offering aggressive discounts to move new vehicles.

As for Tesla, specifically, opinions are divided. Some investors think this is a sign of improved profitability at Tesla thanks to larger economies of scale and that the company has the room to cut prices and attempt to stimulate demand. Those who are more bearish on Tesla see the move as intended to ward off a potential demand cliff. I’m scarcely an automotive analyst, but judging by the reports coming out of the industry, you don’t have to be to see that manufacturers are spooked by the idea of a long-term decline in car-buying thanks to COVID-19. That’s the kind of cliff that every manufacturer could fall off, not just Tesla. If car sales don’t pick up in the near future as the economy reopens, auto manufacturers may face serious problems in the months ahead.

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Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Perform Intimate Duet on CMT’s ‘Feed The Front Line’ Special

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Perform Intimate Duet on CMT’s ‘Feed The Front Line’ Special | Entertainment Tonight

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