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FIFA World Cup: Fans won’t need Covid jabs but negative tests required

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Qatari organisers issue World Cup guidelines to deal with Covid-19 as football’s governing body FIFA says they want the event to be a sign the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, the Gulf state has said.

But players and match officials may be forced into a secure “bio-bubble” if Covid-19 cases take off again, with the threat of expulsion from the tournament for those who breach the secure environment, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption in December 2019 of the Covid pandemic, which has since killed more than six million people.

Qatar’s health ministry warned in its World Cup guidelines that special measures would be ordered “in the event of a worsening pandemic situation in the country”, such as the emergence of a threatening new variant.

With Covid-19 currently considered under control, “there will be no vaccination requirement for participants and visiting spectators,” the ministry said.

All visitors aged over six will have to produce negative Covid-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts on November 20.

Fans will have to wear masks in public transport but authorities are only recommending the use of masks at the eight stadiums in the Doha region where matches will be played.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in Qatar will have to isolate for five days, the guidelines added.

READ MORE: Qatar World Cup final stadium tested with first sellout crowd

READ MORE: FIFA increases squad limit to 26 players for 2022 Qatar World Cup

Bio-bubble ready

Organisers and FIFA are most worried about the first two weeks of the tournament when four matches a day are planned and the peak number of supporters from the 32 competing nations will be packing stadiums, fan zones and tourist spots.

Some estimates say there could be up to 350,000 visiting fans in Doha at the same time during the weekend of November 26-27.

Officials say Doha airport and the city’s roads will be facing peak pressure that weekend.

Because of the pressure on accommodation, only fans with tickets can enter Qatar from November 1, though each person with a ticket is allowed to invite three guests.

Each person entering the country must download a special fan pass, a Hayya card, and Qatar’s anti-Covid health application, Ehteraz.

The app has to be shown at the entrance to metro stations and most shopping malls.

“If metro stations and malls want to check the app, then people need to be ready for some queues,” said one tourism consultant who is advising a major chain of hotels in Qatar.

Other measures may also be difficult to enforce because of the sheer numbers, experts said.

The ministry is recommending one metre (three feet) space between diners in cafes and restaurants.

Virtually every team at the World Cup will have players who have refused to have vaccines, officials acknowledged.

England’s Premier League said this year that 15 percent of players had refused vaccines.

Qatar’s health ministry said it would force players, referees and officials to stay in a secure “bio-bubble” if coronavirus cases take off “to allow for the safe operation and continuation of the event.”

Hotel rooms, training facilities and transport to and from stadiums would all be sealed off.

“Breaching the bubble arrangement may result in an immediate dismissal of the violator from the event and removal from event hotel and accommodation,” the ministry said.

READ MORE: Qatar sends 1,300 buses onto streets in World Cup transport test

Source: TRTWorld

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Inter celebrate 20th Serie A title in Milan Derby

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ROME, April 22 (Xinhua) — Inter Milan won their 20th Serie A title on Monday, beating AC Milan 2-1 in a derby that witnessed three players sent off in the dying minutes.

With a comfortable 14-point lead over second-placed AC Milan and only six rounds remaining, Inter Milan was poised to secure the Scudetto even before the derby, aiming to repeat their 2021 championship success. Entering the match at San Siro, Inter fielded a strong lineup with Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram leading the attack, while AC Milan opted to bench Olivier Giroud, positioning Rafael Leao as the lone striker.

The Nerazzurri, who had previously overwhelmed their city rivals 5-1 earlier in the season, opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Federico Dimarco’s corner was deftly flicked on by Benjamin Pavard to Francesco Acerbi, who headed it in. Lautaro missed an opportunity to extend the lead shortly afterward, sending the ball over the bar from an unmarked position.

AC Milan had the chance to equalize but Yann Sommer got down well to deny Leao’s strike, while at the other end Thuram’s attempt was inches wide.

Inter Milan doubled the lead straight after the break in a spectacular fashion when a long ball over the top found Thuram, who cut inside and feinted a curler to the far top corner, but instead the Frenchman smashed it with ferocity into the near corner, surprising goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

AC Milan then threw on Giroud and Noah Okafor to strengthen the attack, and their efforts paid off in the 80th minute when Matteo Gabbia’s header was parried onto the post, before Fikayo Tomori headed it into the net.

The match escalated in stoppage time with the dismissals of Denzel Dumfries and Theo Hernandez from Inter and AC Milan, respectively, and soon after, Davide Calabria was also sent off for elbowing Inter’s Davide Frattesi.

In the final moments, even Milan’s goalkeeper Maignan joined the attack, but AC Milan could not prevent Inter from celebrating their victory.

In another key Serie A battle for fourth place, Bologna secured a 3-1 victory over Roma away from home. Oussama El Azzouzi put Bologna ahead with a spectacular bicycle kick, Joshua Zirkzee added to the lead before halftime, and despite Sardar Azmoun’s effort to narrow the deficit, Alexis Saelemaekers’ lob ensured Bologna solidified their hold on fourth place, now seven points clear of Roma, who have a game in hand.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Dortmund stuns Atletico in dramatic Champions League quarters

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BERLIN, April 16 (Xinhua) — Borussia Dortmund turned around a 2-1 first-leg defeat by clinching a hard-earned 4-2 victory over resilient Atletico Madrid in the second leg on home soil on Tuesday.

Dortmund advanced 5-4 on aggregate into the Champions League semifinals.

The BVB immediately went in search of the goal and came close with just three minutes gone when Marcel Sabitzer’s shot from inside the box was blocked by defender Cesar Azpilicueta in the last nick of time.

Two minutes later, Atletico had the golden chance to extend the aggregate lead, but Alvaro Morata pulled wide with only Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel to beat.

Dortmund controlled possession though and got rewarded for their efforts at the half-hour mark when Mats Hummel’s defence-splitting through the ball allowed Julian Brandt to fire past Madrid custodian Jan Oblak from a tight angle.

The hosts gained momentum and doubled the lead in the 39th minute as Sabizter teed up for Ian Maatsen, who slotted home from a sharp angle into the far post bottom corner.

After the restart, Los Colchoneros came out with their guns blazing and restored parity on aggregate with the great assistance of Dortmund veteran Mats Hummels, who accidentally cleared Mario Hermoso’s dangerous header into the wrong goal.

Things went from bad to worse for Dortmund as Atletico increased the pressure before retaking the aggregate lead with 69 minutes gone as Dortmund’s defense couldn’t clear the ball from the area, allowing Angel Correa to hammer the ball into the roof of the net, making it 2-2 on the scoreboards.

Dortmund was flabbergasted but bounced back with two goals in quick succession. First, Niclas Fullkrug made it 3-2 on the scoreboards in the 71st minute after heading home Sabitzer’s pinpoint cross before the Austrian international got his name on the scoreboards as well after unleashing a hammer past Oblak two minutes later.

Atletico opened up and pressed frenetically for a goal, but Dortmund’s defense stood firm to claim the team’s first semi-final since 2013. The BVB will encounter Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.

“I am really happy and proud of the boys. We were the better and more active team today. That is why we deserved to advance into the next round,” said Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.

“We had the chance to draw the game and go ahead in the tie but, when you don’t take advantage of your chances, this happens, even more so in the Champions League,” commented Atletico captain Koke.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Macron says Plan B, Plan C possible for Paris Olympics opening ceremony

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French President Macron revealed contingency plans for the Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on the River Seine due to potential security risks, including the possibility of relocating to the Stade de France.

PARIS, April 15 (Xinhua) — The organizers have prepared alternatives to staging the highly-anticipated Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on the River Seine if there are excessive security risks, French president Emmanuel Macron admitted on Monday.

As the countdown to the Olympics reaches the critical 100-day mark, Macron spoke to French broadcasters RMC and BFM TV inside the Grand Palais. While he reiterated his confidence in successfully hosting the ceremony on the Seine, he also acknowledged that alternative plans were under consideration due to potential security challenges.

“If we think there are security risks we’ll have Plan Bs, and even Plan Cs,” he said. “We are preparing them in parallel. We will do an analysis in real time. We have a ceremony which would be limited to the Trocadero and which would therefore not cover the entire Seine.”

Macron also mentioned the possibility of relocating the ceremony to the Stade de France.

“This is what is traditionally done,” he added.

Hosting the opening ceremony in the open urban space was a highly imaginative move by the Paris organizing committee and the local government.

According to the current plan, about 10,500 athletes are expected to travel approximately six kilometers from east to west along the Seine, disembarking near the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero Square for the celebration. An estimated 300,000 spectators are anticipated to watch the event live from both sides of the river.

However, security has been a significant concern from the outset of planning. The increasing risk of potential terrorist attacks is a critical consideration for both the organizing committee and the French government.

The Olympic flame for the Paris Games will be lit on April 16 in ancient Olympia, Greece. April 17 will mark the 100-day countdown to the opening of the Paris Olympics.

The Paris Olympics will take place between July 26 and August 11, followed by the Paris Paralympics from August 28 to September 8.

Source(s): Xinhua

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