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Japan reportedly to stage Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics minus overseas spectators

Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo 2020 games organizing committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.

The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Kyodo said the government had concluded welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.

The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.

“The organizing committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.

“Five parties, the IOC, the IPC [International Paralympic Committee], Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week,” the organizing committee said in response to the Kyodo report.

“The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered.”

Public wary

In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 per cent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.

The survey showed 77 per cent of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18 per cent in favour.

Some 48 per cent said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45 per cent were in favour.

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CBC | Sports News

Minus veteran stars, Canada sends young roster into SheBelieves Cup tournament

It’s been nearly a year since the Canadian women’s soccer team has seen game action and despite missing several key players, including captain Christine Sinclair and stalwart defender Kadeisha Buchanan, the squad is ready to go for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup. 

Coach Bev Priestman unveiled the 23-player roster Tuesday ahead of Canada’s opening match against the world champions, the United States Thursday at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It will be Priestman’s first tournament since being hired as head coach in October.

After the Americans, the eighth-ranked Canadians play Brazil (tied for No. 8) on Feb. 21 and conclude against Argentina (No. 31) on Feb. 24.

There are five uncapped players among the group, including goalkeeper Rylee Foster, defender Jade Rose, midfielders Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang and forward Evelyne Viens.

Canada Soccer announced Saturday that Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who have over 500 caps between them, didn’t make the camp in Orlando due to injury. Veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod and promising uncapped defender Bianca St-Georges both picked up injuries at camp and went back to their clubs.  

There was more bad news after centre back Buchanan (Lyon), fullback Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema (both Paris Saint-Germain) were denied release by their French clubs. France recently mandated a seven-day quarantine for travellers due to COVID-19, which impacted the Canadians’ travel plans.  

“Obviously coming into this tournament it is not how I had originally imagined my first tournament would be particularly playing the No. 1 [team] in the world,” said Priestman, who spent two years as England Women’s assistant coach. “But it is a great opportunity for anybody to step up and try and get their name on that Olympic roster. It gives me a great chance to assess any new players, the current crop of players that maybe wouldn’t see as much game time.

“Not having Sinc (Sinclair), not having Kadeisha it is big shoes to fill but there is a group that has been on the cusp.” 

In the absence of Sinclair, two-time Olympic bronze medallists, Sophie Schmidt, who is one game away from playing her 200th game for Canada, and Desiree Scott will carry the leadership reins.  

The SheBelieves Cup is a four-team invitational tournament in its sixth season and features some of the best nations in women’s football. 

Canada’s roster:

Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Stephanie Labbé (Rosengård), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC).

Defenders: Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Quinn (OL Reign FC), Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC), Julia Grosso (University of Texas at Austin), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Sarah Stratigakis (University of Michigan), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL) 

Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC), Adriana Leon (West Ham United FC), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC)

Unavailable due to injury: Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Diana Matheson (Kansas City NWSL), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride), Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars)

Unavailable due to club commitments: Kadeisha Buchanan (FCF Olympique Lyonnais), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain)  

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CBC | Soccer News

Spice Girls, Minus Victoria Beckham, to Embark on a Limited U.K. Stadium Tour, Sources Say

Get ready to spice up your life!

Sources tell ET that the Spice Girls, minus “Posh Spice” Victoria Beckham, will embark on a limited, eight-show stadium tour in the U.K. next year. According to the sources, the tour is scheduled to be announced on Monday, Nov. 5.

ET has reached out to reps for the Spice Girls for comment.

Rumors of the iconic British girl group reuniting and heading on tour began after Beckham, Emma Bunton, Mel C. and Mel B. reunited at Geri Halliwell’s home in London in February. Following their meet up, the group released a statement expressing how they were ready to “explore some incredible new opportunities together.”

“We have enjoyed a wonderful afternoon catching-up and reminiscing about the amazing times we have spent together. We are always overwhelmed at how much interest there is across the whole world for The Spice Girls,” the five women said in a statement to ET at the time. “The time now feels right to explore some incredible new opportunities together. We all agree that there are many exciting possibilities that will once again embrace the original essence of The Spice Girls, while reinforcing our message of female empowerment for future generations.”

Following the reunion and statement, Beckham remained adamant that the group was not going to be performing shows any time soon. Her statements seemed to contradict Mel B, who frequently commented on the likelihood of the Spice Girls returning to the stage.

“We will be doing stuff this year together,” the America’s Got Talent judge told ET in March.

Then in September, Halliwell, Mel B, Mel C and Bunton — minus Beckham — shared a photo while FaceTiming each other, which only intensified speculations that they had something up their sleeves.

For now, it looks like fans will have to wait until next week to see what the news really is.

See more on the Spice Girls’ reunion earlier this year in the video below.

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Spice Girls Reunite at Geri Halliwell's House — Including Victoria Beckham!

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