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North Korea Drops Out Of Tokyo Olympics Over COVID Fears

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North Korea has on Monday announced it will not attend the Tokyo Olympic Games amid concerns of coronavirus fears putting an end to South Korea’s hopes of using the Games to engage with the North to revive stalled cross-border talks.

A website run by North Korea’s sports ministry in a statement said the country’s Olympic Committee decided not to participate in this year’s Games “in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by COVID-19”.

The ministry said on its website, the North made its decision to pull out of Tokyo at a meeting of its Olympic committee and Sports Minister Kim Il Guk on March 25.

The decision makes it the first time North Korea has missed a Summer Olympics since it boycotted Seoul in 1988 amid the Cold War and also the first major country to skip the delayed 2020 Games because of the pandemic.

In a statement, the South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would be a chance to “foster peace and reconciliation” between the two Koreas, adding that “We regret it could not happen.”

While the Olympic minister in Japan, Tamayo Marukawa refused to comment, telling reporters she was still confirming details.

It had been hoped the countries might even field a combined Korean team in Japan, as a precursor to a joint bid to host the 2032 games.

The North’s withdrawal from Tokyo event which is due to begin on 23 July is also a setback for plans, agreed at a 2018 summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to pursue a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Games.

Since the virus broke out last year, North Korea has taken stringent measures against the virus by shutting off its borders in late January and later quarantined hundreds of foreigners in its capital.

 

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UEFA Threatens Ban As Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ Clubs Agree To Join New European Super League

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The 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL) have on Sunday been warned by European football’s governing body UEFA that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

UEFA in a joint statement with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said “the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

In a seismic move for European football, Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham will join AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid are the clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).

They make up 12 of what will be 15 founding clubs, who cannot be relegated from the closed-shop elite with Borussia Dortmund rejecting the opportunity to join.

Five clubs will be entitled to qualify every year, with the season running from August to May.

The ESL which is also planning to launch a women’s competition as soon as possible after the men’s tournament starts said the founding clubs had agreed to establish a “new midweek competition” with teams continuing to “compete in their respective national leagues”.

It said the inaugural season was “intended to commence as soon as practicable” and “anticipated that a further three clubs” would join the breakaway.

Critics say the move is being driven purely by money, would destroy domestic leagues and is against the integrity of the sport.

UEFA is due to sign off on its own plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League on Monday but less than 24 hours before the meeting reports emerged of a new attempt at creating a rival competition involving the continent’s top clubs.

Condemning the move when the news broke on Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking on Monday said the government was “going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed”.

Johnson speaking to broadcasters on a visit to Gloucestershire said “I don’t think that it is good news for fans, I don’t think it’s good news for football in this country.”

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Jose Mourinho Sacked As Tottenham Head Coach

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Jose Mourinho Sacked As Tottenham Head Coach

Just after 17 months in charge, Jose Mourinho has on Monday been sacked by Tottenham in just six days before the Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester City.

Making the announcement, the club in a brief statement on their website stated “the club can today announce that Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff Joao Sacramento, Nuno Santos, Carlos Lalin and Giovanni Cerra have been relieved of their duties.”

Chairman Daniel Levy said “Jose and his coaching staff have been with us through some of our most challenging times as a club.

He said “Jose is a true professional who showed enormous resilience during the pandemic. On a personal level I have enjoyed working with him and regret that things have not worked out as we both had envisaged.”

In November 2019, the Portuguese manager replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs manager and guided the club to sixth in the Premier League last season.

But in 2021, Spurs have endured a disastrous year, slipping down the Premier League at an alarming speed while also crashing out of the Europa League

58-year-old Mourinho whose last in charge was a 2-2 league draw at Everton on Friday has been under increasing pressure.

Former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason, who has been working with the club’s academy, will take first-team training on Monday.

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Edo Queens Eye CAF Spot At Super Six Tourney

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Nigeria Women’s Football League side Edo Queens say they are ready to grab a CAF women’s champions league slot, ahead of the NWFL super six tournament on Thursday.

The Edo Queens will take on Bayelsa Queens, Delta Queens, Rivers Angels, FC Robo and sunshine queens for the two slots to represent Nigeria at the regional qualifiers for the maiden CAF women’s champions league.

The tournament begins this weekend.

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