Tag Archives: overseas

Hockey players returning from leagues overseas want exemption from Canada’s quarantine rules

Playing professional hockey in Switzerland is no holiday for Daniel Winnik.

That’s why Winnik, who plays for Genève-Servette HC of the Swiss National League, has signed a petition asking that Canadian professional hockey players returning home from overseas be placed on the COVID-19 essential travelers list and be exempt from a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine.

“I know there’s a bunch of ‘Snowbirds’ who go to Florida and southern places to get away from winter,” Winnik, a Toronto native who spent 11 seasons in the NHL, said from Geneva. “We’ve got guys that come over here to work. Obviously, all of us would love to be playing in North American in the NHL or AHL but the reality is we couldn’t get jobs there.

“We came overseas to be able to provide for our families. We’re not here on vacation. We’re making a living for our families.”

In February, the federal government introduced measures that call for most air passengers to take a COVID-19 test after landing in Canada and spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine period in a designated hotel to await their test results. The hotel stay could cost up to $ 2,000.

Maxim Noreau, a Montreal native who plays defence for the ZSC Lions in Zurich, estimates the mandatory hotel quarantine will cost around $ 4,000 for him, his wife and two sons.

“We are all here overseas trying to earn income to supply for our families and coming back to Canada is a big stress for us, especially with my two little boys,” Noreau said in an email.


Maxim Noreau (56) won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. (Getty Images)

“Coming back to Canada is a safe haven for us and we 100 per cent want to quarantine in our own home for 14 days as we would expect everyone else to do the same without bias.”

The petition, on Change.org, says Canadians playing hockey overseas are there “for their livelihood” and “putting these individuals and their families into the same category as travellers/vacationers would be unfair.”

The petition’s goal is 10,000 signatures. So far over 7,800 people have signed.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said in an email it is aware of the hockey players’ petition, but said the border measures are in place to prevent the introduction of new COVID-19 cases.

The government has issued exemptions to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period under national interest grounds for professional athletes, staff and third-party personnel “to support safe return-to-play when robust measures are in place to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

“These exemptions are not intended for professional athletes returning to Canada,” the agency said.

WATCH | Ottawa to ease restrictions for Olympic athletes:

CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin joined CBC Morning Live host Heather Hiscox to discuss the Canadian government’s plans to offer Canadian athletes exemptions from some quarantine-related travel restrictions in the lead-up to the Olympics. 4:57

No difference between vacation, working

Anita Ho, an associate professor in bioethics and health services research at the University of British Columbia, said COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate.

“I don’t really see the [argument of] vacationing versus work destination,” she said. “COVID spreads among people. So, if you are in close proximity, whether it is through work, whether it’s through playing hockey or playing and vacationing, it makes no difference.”

Ho acknowledged the mandated hotel stay can impose a financial hardship on some people.

“The government should make it as affordable as possible for people to do those three days,” she said.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently said the federal government has agreed to offer 750 Olympic and Paralympic athletes — along with members of their support staff — exemptions from some quarantine-related travel restrictions in the lead-up to the Olympics.

Ho understands the exemption for Olympic athletes who have lived in a bubble and have been routinely tested.

‘A lot of money’

“That’s why you can show their risk of being infected is very low,” she said.

Winnik was taken 265th overall in the 2004 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. A six-foot-two, 210-pound forward he would play 798 games — scoring 82 goals and 251 points — with eight teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Winnik has played the past two seasons with Genève-Servette, collecting 22 goals and 44 points in 49 games this year.

Winnik’s team is currently in the playoffs, but the season is over for many other Canadians who are looking to return home. The mandatory hotel stay adds another cost.

“It’s a lot of money,” Winnik said. “They’re asking people to pay to be able to return home to where they’re from.”

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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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Decision on overseas Olympic spectators to be made by end of March

The new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee stopped short of saying there would be no foreign fans at this year’s games, but she certainly hinted at it Wednesday after online talks with IOC President Thomas Bach and others.

The Japanese newspaper Mainichi reported Wednesday that the decision had already been made to exclude foreign fans. It cited only unnamed sources “involved in the discussions.”

“If the situation is tough and it would make the [Japanese] consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

The newspaper report came just before Hashimoto’s meeting with Bach. She said a decision on foreign fans will come by the end of the month, and she wants one by March 25, when the torch relay begins from northeastern Japan.

The Olympics are scheduled to open on July 23.

“In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators,” the Mainichi newspaper said, citing an unnamed government official.

WATCH | Olympic officials release 1st COVID-19 playbook:

Olympic officials have unveiled the first in a series of ‘playbooks’ for how they’ll keep the upcoming Tokyo Games safe during the pandemic. The guide dictates how people can travel, where they can go and even how they can cheer. 1:57

Hashimoto was asked after the meeting how Japan could even consider letting in thousands of overseas fans, given how unpopular the idea is at home where up to 80% want the Olympics cancelled or postponed again. Japan has attributed about 8,000 deaths to COVID-19, but has controlled it much better than most countries.

Hashimoto confirmed that the subject of fans was a key part of the “five-party” talks with Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa.

IOC hopes to have as many Olympians vaccinated as possible

Bach hinted at hard choices to be made in comments before the meeting was closed to reporters.

“We will focus on the essentials,” Bach said. “That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.”

The exclusion of foreign fans has been almost a foregone conclusion with the games being held during a pandemic. The Japanese public has been openly opposed to the games, and one sticking point has been the risk presented by visitors entering the country. The other has been the soaring costs.

The games will involve 11,000 Olympic athletes, and later 4,400 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of coaches, judges, sponsors, media and VIPs. Bach said he was encouraged at the number of national Olympic committees that were getting athletes vaccinated. The IOC said it encourages vaccinations but will not require them.

Bach said his hope was “to have as many participants as possible arriving vaccinated to Tokyo.”

“There I can inform you that a considerable number of national Olympic committees has already secured this pre-Tokyo vaccination,” Bach said.

The general plan is to isolate athletes in the Olympic Village alongside Tokyo Bay; put them in a bubble when they arrive, and until they leave Japan.

Hashimoto said a decision on venue capacity will be made by the end of April. She said the “zero-fans option” was not discussed.

Tokyo Games will be most expensive Olympics on record

“We need to look at the overall situation before we decide on any percentage rates,” she said. “We believe we will not be accepted unless the citizens feel confident that sufficient countermeasures are taken.”

Having fewer fans will be costly. The organizing committee has budgeted income of $ 800 million US from ticket sales. That shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities.

These are the most expensive Olympics on record. The official cost is $ 15.4 billion, though two government audits suggest it might be almost twice that much. All but $ 6.7 billion is public money.

The Tokyo Games have been haunted by problems. A bribery scandal tied to the bid in 2013 forced the resignation two years ago of Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda. He denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, former organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori was forced to resign after making sexist comments about women. Essentially, he said they talk too much.

Mori was replaced by Hashimoto, who cautioned on Tuesday of the unpredictable problems that await.

“The biggest challenges is the countermeasures against COVID-19,” she said. “Nobody can foresee how the situation will be this summer.”

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Italy’s oldest bell-making shop turns to online overseas sales to keep ancient craft alive

It’s difficult to imagine an Italian town or city without a skyline of turreted church towers or an hourly clamour of bells peeling and chiming in the air.

With the Vatican nestled in the heart of the country, the large bronze instruments have made Christianity literally resonate throughout Italy for centuries

But just as the multitudes called to daily mass by the belfry tolling have all but dried up, the ancient knowledge used to produce the giant bronzes is at risk of vanishing.

And that makes the survival of Italy’s oldest bell foundry — located in the small town of Agnone in the country’s hilly, desolate southern region of Molise — a near miracle.

“This is a complex trade that involves precise understanding of mathematics, physics, geometry and music,” said master bell maker Antonio Delli Quadri, 83, whose customers include the United Nations in New York and the Vatican.

“From the rigour of numbers to the harmony of sound.”

No machines, no mass-produced moulds

Delli Quadri began helping forge bells when he was just 15, starting with “the most humble tasks” inside the light-dappled bustling workshop run by the Marinelli family since at least 1339. Up until the 1950s, some two dozen bell foundries, all family-run, were operating throughout Italy.

Today, the Marinelli foundry is among five survivors and is the official provider of bells for the Vatican.

“You could say by sticking to these centuries-old ways, we’re now avant-garde,” said Pasquale, 50, the younger of the two Marinelli brothers now running the foundry.

“We haven’t introduced machines. We’ve stayed in the same traditional workshop instead of moving into a bigger factory. We refuse to work with soulless, mass-produced moulds.”


Artisan Ettore Marinelli, 28, is a member of the latest generation of Marinellis to keep his family’s ancient bell foundry. Marinelli Pontifical Foundry is the oldest bell foundry in Italy and one of only a handful remaining in the country. (Chris Ward-Jones)

Indeed, the materials scattered throughout the workshop — clay, wood, wax, bricks and bronze — are the very same as those the medieval artisans used. The Marinellis also employ the same techniques to design and forge the bells, including a geometric formula involving the height, diameter of the base and distance from the base to the top of the bell, with the thickest part of the bell always a 14th of the diameter.

While bells are an integral part of Catholic churches in Italy and elsewhere, the bronze instruments have played an essential role in community life that pre-dates the time in the Middle Ages when they gradually stopped being hung above town doors and began ringing on church towers.

World’s ‘first mass media’

Paola Patriarca, a foundry artisan who curates the small bell museum above the Marinelli workshop, where more than 1,000 bells are on display, calls bells the world’s “first mass media.”

“The sound of bells are now seen as nostalgic, but remember, just 50 years ago, not everyone had a watch,” said Patriarca. “Bells served [as] essential services, like warning when it was going to rain, or one hour to sunset, which had a particular importance for workers far afield or in the woods under heavy canopy cover.

“Even for those out fishing, when the sky was clouded over, the sound was a message to head back to shore. Bells kept people safe.”


Intricate decorations for the bells are carved in wax. (Chris Warde-Jones)

Bells are booming online

While the world’s original mass medium may be fading in Italy, the advent of new, digital means of communication have kept the Marinelli foundry going.

Online orders from expanding churches in Africa, Asia and South America, not to mention from Buddhist temples and musicians, have helped offset the drop in orders from Catholic churches in Italy and Europe.

Still, the Catholic influence is as deeply embedded in the bells as the gold rings believers once tossed into the boiling bronze – both in their nomenclature and production.

Bells blessed by priest

The Marinellis refer to bells as “sacred bronzes” and describe them not as formed but “born,” with the initial wooden and brick structure that gives shape to the inside called the “anima,” or soul. To this day, a priest is called to the foundry to bless the bell, emitting a flurry of Hail Marys at the moment of fusion, when the bronze liquid is poured into the mould.


‘I saw that bell born,’ Delli Quadri says of the Jubilee Bell at the Vatican. (Chris Warde-Jones)

“Bells contained parts of the community they tolled above,” said older Marinelli brother Armando. “As an act of faith, people would throw their gold bands or necklaces into the bronze as it began setting. So, in a very material way, many bells contain bits of our past. And when bells ring, people hear the older generations ringing in them.”

Producing the desired ring remains a challenge. One small mistake can result in having to go back to the beginning of a process that can take up to three months. With large bells, some weighing up to 600 kilograms and costing in the tens of thousands of dollars, precision is imperative.

Delli Quadri said any bell maker who boasts they have never erred is lying. He said his own missteps were thankfully on smaller, less important bells.

Hope for the tradition to continue

Delli Quadri, who has spent a lifetime inside the foundry and perilously perched on belfries to mount the giant bronzes, prefers recalling his triumphs — his biggest, he says, being the Jubilee Bell for the Vatican in 2000.

“I saw that bell born,” he recalled with pride, “and followed it through to completion. From the first brick here in the workshop to mounting the bronze on a structure that I built myself in the Vatican gardens.”

He said he’s hopeful that with the next generation of Marinellis committed to keeping the foundry going, the centuries-old secrets will stay alive, at least for the near future.

“These are intergenerational businesses,” said Delli Quadri. “And if you don’t have a next generation willing to take on bell making, that’s the end.”

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