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I.O.C. AND JAPAN AGREE TO POSTPONE TOKYO OLYMPICS

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Shinzo Abe

TOKYO — After months of internal discussions and mounting pressure from nations and athletes across the world, the International Olympic Committee will postpone the Summer Games that had been scheduled to begin in late July in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said Tuesday.

Instead, the Games, the world’s largest sporting event, will take place in the summer of 2021, a change that will wreak havoc with sports schedules but should bring great relief to the athletes, organizers and health officials who had increasingly pressed that the coronavirus pandemic made it unsafe to go forward with the event.

The decision became inevitable after the national Olympic committee in Canada announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing from the Games, and Australia’s committee told its athletes that it was not possible to train for this summer under the widespread restrictions in place to control the virus. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, after initially declining to take a stand, joined the fray Monday night, urging the I.O.C. to postpone.

In announcing the decision, Abe said he had asked Thomas Bach, president of the I.O.C., for a one-year delay and he had “agreed 100 percent.” I.O.C. leaders have acknowledged the disruption but said that a delay was the only way to ensure that athletes could train safely and the more than $10 billion the Japan has spent to prepare for the Olympics during the past seven years would not go to waste.

In 2013, Tokyo beat out Madrid and Istanbul to win hosting rights for the event. Bach had said last week canceling the Games would not be an option.

In recent years a growing number of cities and countries have balked at bidding to host the Olympics. Abandoning the event after all that has been invested might have doomed the I.O.C., further discouraging cities from offering to host future Games. Without cities willing to take on the immense expense and inconvenience that comes with hosting the Games, the Olympics would cease to exist.

The postponement of the world’s largest sporting event came after numerous other delays or cancellations in Japan and around the world. This month, the N.B.A. suspended its season in the United States, and Japan canceled its spring high school baseball tournament for the first time since World War II. League soccer play has been suspended in Japan, and the Asia Sevens Invitational rugby tournament was canceled.

In a conference call in March between the World Health Organization and the medical officers for the international sports federations that oversee Olympic events, participants discussed worst-case scenarios, including the possibility of holding the Games without spectators. Ultimately, organizers decided that delaying would allow more time to bring the virus under control.

At a time when Japan’s economy is already stumbling, the delay of the Olympics could deal a serious blow. In a report early this month, SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. projected that a cancellation of the Games would erase 1.4 percent of Japan’s economic output.

One of the trickiest aspects of moving the Games is handling the broadcast rights that drive revenue for the International Olympic Committee. Nearly three-quarters of I.O.C. revenue comes from broadcast rights, and about half of those fees are paid by the American broadcaster NBC. Experts said its likely broadcaster and other Olympic partners may seek a reduction in their fees.

Postponing the Games for a year will yield significant complications. The international governing bodies for track and field and swimming are set to hold world championships then and will have to work with their athletes and host cities to push those events back, as will other international federations with major events on the calendar.

Until now, the Olympics had not been canceled or postponed since World War II.

However, keeping the event in the summer means most of the top professional athletes, including golfers and tennis, basketball and soccer players, may still be able to participate. At other times in the year, they have commitments to their usual teams and leagues. Also, the Games organizers will not have to worry about television audiences, which probably would have shrunk if the Olympics had to compete with the busy fall sports schedule in the United States and across Europe — including the N.F.L., playoff baseball and the Premier League.

Moving the Games to the summer of 2022, another option, carried its own logistical challenges. In 2022, the I.O.C. is set to hold the Winter Games in Beijing. Also, soccer’s World Cup, which rivals the Olympics for the globe’s biggest audience, is scheduled for the end of 2022. Three events in a calendar year would have put significant much financial pressure on Olympic sponsors, several of which also commit hundreds of millions of dollars to both the Winter Games and the World Cup and are now reeling form the collapse of the world economy.

Paris is set to host the Summer Olympics in 2024, and Los Angeles in 2028.

Until now, the Olympics had not been canceled or postponed since World War II. Tokyo was supposed to host the Summer Games in 1940 but had to bow out after it went to war with China. The Games were then awarded to Helsinki, but were canceled after the outbreak of the war in Europe. Helsinki ultimately hosted the 1952 Summer Games, and Tokyo held them in 1964.

The Summer Olympics are the world’s largest sporting event, attracting more than 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries, and the I.O.C. prides itself on being a peace movement that brings the world together every two years at the Winter and Summer Games.

With that in mind, as well as the billions of dollars that had been invested in the Games, Bach postponed his decision for months, waiting to see if the threat of the pandemic would dissipate. Ultimately, the prospect of making the situation worse proved too great a risk for an organization that relies largely on the good will of people and governments around the world for its survival.

The coronavirus initially broke out in China in December but quickly spread across Asia. While it appears to have stabilized somewhat in Japan, the health experts remain concerned that bringing together people from disparate parts of the globe — especially athletes who live closely in a village — might ignite an additional outbreak.

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Brazil legend Pele dies, aged 82

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Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.

He is credited with scoring a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances during a 21-year career, including 77 goals in 92 matches for his country.

The only player to win the World Cup three times, lifting the trophy in 1958, 1962 and 1970, Pele was named Fifa’s Player of the Century in 2000.

He had been suffering with kidney and prostate problems in recent years.

Pele had surgery to remove a tumour from his colon in September 2021 at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, after the tumour was detected in routine tests. He was readmitted to hospital in late November 2022.

His daughter Kely Nascimento has kept fans updated on her father’s condition with regular social media updates from hospital.

Shortly afte he passed on, she posted a picture of what appeared to be Pele’s family’s hands on his body in hospital and wrote: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.

The hospital confirmed that Pele died “due to the failure of multiple organs, a result of the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous clinical condition”.

Pele’s Twitter account posted: “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love and love, forever.”

The Brazilian Football Confederation said: “Pele was much more than the greatest sportsperson of all time. “Our king of football was the greatest exponent of a victorious Brazil, who was never afraid when faced with difficulty. He promised his father a World Cup and he presented us with three.

“The King gave us a new Brazil and we are so thankful for his legacy. Thank you, Pele.”

President Jair Bolsonaro has declared three days of national mourning.

Pele’s former club Santos released details of his funeral. On Monday morning his body will be moved from the hospital to the club’s Estadio Urbano Caldeira, where the coffin will be placed in the centre of the pitch for the public to pay respects.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, became a global star when, aged 17, he helped Brazil win the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, forcing his way into the starting line-up by the knockout stages.

He scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Wales in the quarter-finals, a hat-trick against France in the semi-final and two in a 5-2 triumph over the hosts in the final.

What made Pele great:

*Scored a reported 1,281 goals in 1,363 games
*Made 14 appearances at World Cup finals, scoring 12 goals
*Racked up 126 goals in 1959 alone
*Only player to win three World Cups
*Pele had made his debut for club side Santos two years earlier at the age of 15, scoring in a 7-1 win over Corinthians de Santo Andre.
It was the first of 643 goals he would score for the club in official competitions over 19 years, although Santos claim the total is more than 1,000 once exhibition matches – often against high-profile European opposition – are taken into account.

The Brazilian Football Confederation and Santos say Pele scored 1,283 goals in 1,367 matches, while Fifa claims it was 1,281 goals in 1,366 games.

At the 1962 World Cup, Pele, then 21, scored a brilliant individual goal in a 2-0 win over Mexico to open their campaign, but was injured in the next match and watched from the sidelines as his team defended their title.

The final part of his trilogy of World Cup wins was his most iconic. After being fouled out of the 1966 tournament in England, he was the fulcrum of a thrilling attacking team that swept to the title in 1970, scoring the opening goal in a 4-1 win over Italy in the final.

‘Legend’ Pele synonymous with football – Lineker

From his joyful tears on the chest of team-mate Nilton Santos to his embrace with England captain Bobby Moore, Pele’s moments of magic have spanned eras and defined the history of the sport.

He finished his club career as part of a star-studded New York Cosmos side, playing alongside German legend Franz Beckenbauer and fellow 1970 World Cup winner Carlos Alberto.

“In music there is Beethoven and the rest. In football, there is Pele and the rest,” he said in 2000. In a poll conducted by BBC Sport in 2020, Pele was voted the greatest player, ahead of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff.
‘A boy genius, a World Cup hero, a global icon’ – BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty

The image of the shirtless Pele being carried aloft by team-mates and supporters after the World Cup was won in Mexico City in 1970 is seared on the memory, along with that famous picture of another shirtless embrace with England captain Bobby Moore (above), a gesture packed with mutual respect, after Brazil’s 1-0 group game victory in Guadalajara.

His greatness can be measured by the simple fact that he could make football a spectacle of natural grace and beauty when he missed as much as when he scored.

One of the game’s first global personalities, Pele layered his brilliance across a career spanning from a teenager with Santos to a money-spinner at New York Cosmos.

Wherever football is played, the name of Pele will be synonymous with it.
BBC Sports

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Steven Gerrard Sacked as Aston Villa Manager

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Steven Gerrard has been sacked as manager of Aston Villa after just 11 months in charge.
Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel have been linked with the role, but whether either man could be enticed to Villa Park remains to be seen.

Gerrard’s sacking was announced immediately after his side suffered a comprehensive 3-0 defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage – Villa’s sixth defeat in just 11 Premier League games.

A statement released after the match read: “Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect.

“We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”

On Friday, Villa confirmed Gary McAllister, Neil Critchley, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milsom and Scott Mason have also left the club following the sacking of Gerrard.

First-team coach Aaron Danks will take charge of the team for Sunday’s Premier League match against Brentford at Villa Park.

The former Liverpool midfielder replaced Dean Smith at Villa Park in November 2021 but lasted less than a year before becoming the fourth top-flight manager to lose his job this season, following Scott Parker, Thomas Tuchel and Bruno Lage.

Gerrard admitted he was in a “very difficult position” straight after Villa’s hefty loss in south west London.
The former Rangers manager insisted he would not quit his role but was given no choice in the matter as Villa’s board acted swiftly to remove him.

“I’ve been sending messages to the fans for the last few weeks because I certainly share their frustration and their pain,” said Gerrard in his post-match press conference.

“I’m someone who is honest. I know that they’re not enjoying it at the moment – I’m certainly not – so we’ll see what happens moving forward. But you know and I know I’m in a very difficult position right now.

“The performance was miles away from what I want, expect and stand for. I understand the fans’ frustration and it was so far from how we looked at the weekend. We’re in this situation, I’m in it to face the tough questions because the reality is it’s not good enough for the club.

“Those decisions are out of my control. I have been around the game a long time, I understand the situation and won’t sugar-coat the situation or give anyone false lines. I want to be as honest as I can.

“We’ll see what happens moving forwards. But football is in my DNA and quitting is certainly not, so we’ll see what happens moving forwards.”

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Chelsea Appoint Brighton’s Graham Porter as New Manager

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Chelsea has announced the appointment of erstwhile Brighton and Hove Albion Manager as the new Manager at Stamford Bridge. The appointment follows the recent sacking of Thomas Tuchel after guiding the side for two years.

•Potter handed long-term deal

•Joins Chelsea squad in
disarray

•First game will be derby clash
with Fulham

WHAT HAPPENED?

Chelsea confirmed Potter’s arrival in an official statement on Thursday, with the 47-year-old departing Brighton after three years in charge at the Amex Stadium. Potter has been handed a long-term contract after replacing Tuchel, whose 20-month reign at Stamford Bridge ended following the Blues’ surprise Champions League group stage defeat against Dinamo Zagreb.

THE BIGGER PICTURE:
Potter guided Brighton to their best-ever top-flight finish in 2021-22 as they secured ninth place, and they also made an impressive start to their latest campaign under his stewardship. He leaves Brighton sitting fourth in the Premier League after six matches – three points ahead of his new employers Chelsea.

AND WHAT’S MORE: The Blues’ newest head coach has a huge job on his hands to steady the ship at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea spent more than any other club in the summer transfer window to bring in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana, but Tuchel was unable to deliver instant results with a new-look squad. Potter, who also reunites with former Brighton defender Marc Cucurella, will face the same level of pressure as an expectant board continues to set the loftiest of expectations.

WHAT WAS SAID:
‘I am incredibly proud and excited to represent Chelsea FC, this fantastic football club,” Potter said in a statement. “I am very excited to partner with Chelsea’s new ownership group and look forward to meeting and working with the exciting group of players and to develop a team and culture that our amazing fans can be proud of.”
(Goal.com)

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