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Tennis divided: Fans in or out

Agence France-Presse

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Roger Federer is not keen on playing behind closed doors. (AFP)

Professional tennis has been in cold storage since March due to the coronavirus pandemic with tournaments unlikely to resume before August.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points as the sport heads into June:

Fans in or out at US Open and Roland Garros?

In 2019, the US Open attracted a record crowd of almost 740,000 to its sprawling Billie Jean King Tennis Center in New York.

The French Open last year at Roland Garros brought in 520,000 paying customers.

However, the 2020 editions of the two remaining Grand Slam events on the calendar will look very different with the chance of them being played behind closed doors a real possibility to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Roger Federer, whose 20-Grand Slam title haul includes five titles at the US Open and one in Paris, is not keen on seeing rows and rows of empty seats.

“I can’t bear to see an empty stadium. I hope that won’t happen,” the Swiss star was quoted as saying by Brazilian media recently.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova said she too has no desire to play a Slam with without spectators.

“I would like to play another Grand Slam, but if it’s like this, I’d rather cancel them,” Kvitova said.

“Playing without fans who are our engine doesn’t look nice to me and the Grand Slam doesn’t deserve it.”

As far as the rescheduled Roland Garros in September and October is concerned, Jean-Francois Vilotte, the director-general of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), told AFP: “The aim is that there will be spectators.”

“But we will have the capacity to organise Roland Garros whatever the option decided, including behind closed doors.”

Money matters?

There has been no prize money to play for over the best part of three months but that hasn’t stopped it being discussed.

The ATP and WTA tours, the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open backed a fund worth more than $6 million to support low-ranked players hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

World number one Novak Djokovic had already said that he, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — the sport’s biggest earners with over $100 million each banked in prize money alone — were also willing to help.

However, world number three Dominic Thiem was not keen on giving money to lower-ranked players.

“Quite honestly I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked,” said the Austrian.

Marion Bartoli, the 2013 Wimbledon champion, chimed in last week by suggesting a reduction in doubles events with prize money diverted to struggling players.

“You just don’t make the same effort (in doubles) as a singles player. You don’t practise so much, your routine is different.

“I don’t know if we have to stop doubles completely, but to get less money and give that money to qualification and others, that could be the solution.”

Are we making an exhibition of ourselves?

There is some tennis going on in the world at a series of tightly-controlled exhibition events.

Germany kicked it off on May 1 with an eight-man exhibition in the tiny town of Hoehr-Grenzhausen, near Koblenz which featured Dustin Brown, who famously defeated Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2015.

Strict rules over health and safety meant there were no fans, no ball boys or girls and no line judges. There was just a chair umpire.

Handshakes were banned, players handled their own towels and brought their own water and fruit to the clay courts.

Similar events followed in the US before Petra Kvitova won an all-Czech event in Prague last week.

“The gloves, face masks, the fact nobody handed us the towels, no handshakes, that was definitely bizarre,” said Kvitova.

Other exhibitions are scheduled including a World Team Tennis tournament in West Virginia in July featuring Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens.

Andy Murray will return from his latest injury problem on June 23 in a charity tournament in London.

Nick Kyrgios joins Dominic Thiem at a grasscourt event, likely the only one this summer, at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport from July 17-19.

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Trump slashes refugee numbers to record low

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, wearing a mask, tours a processing center for Venezuelan migrants on a September 2020 visit to the Brazilian border town of Boa Vista. (Yahoo)

President Donald Trump’s administration said late Wednesday the United States will admit a record low of no more than 15,000 refugees over the coming year despite surging global displacement, stepping up its hardline one month before elections.

The State Department announced the number just half an hour before the October 1 start of the 2021 fiscal year, narrowly meeting a deadline set by US law following criticism by lawmakers.

The 15,000 figure — the maximum who can be admitted over the next 12 months barring a change in the administration — is a further cut from 18,000 last year and down dramatically from more than 100,000 under previous president Barack Obama.

Trump, who has campaigned on fierce denunciations of immigration, already suspended refugee admissions entirely for several months this year citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Explaining the new curbs, the State Department said the United States wanted to help displaced people “as close to their homes as possible” until they can return home.

“By focusing on ending the conflicts that drive displacement in the first place, and by providing overseas humanitarian assistance to protect and assist displaced people, we can prevent the destabilizing effects of such displacement on affected countries and their neighbors,” a statement said.

The State Department pointed to its emphasis on “diplomatic solutions” on Venezuela, where the United States has been trying unsuccessfully to topple leftist leader Nicolas Maduro.

More than five million people have fled Venezuela’s crumbling economy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced appreciation to hosts Colombia and Brazil on a regional tour visit last week where he met Venezuelan migrants.

Refugee advocates had pleaded with the Trump administration to raise admissions in the face of global conflicts and fresh instability due to the pandemic.

Nearly 80 million people around the world are displaced, double the number a decade ago, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Trump’s Democratic rival in November 3 elections, Joe Biden, has pledged to raise the cap to 125,000, saying that welcoming the persecuted is in line with US values.

The Trump campaign has run advertisements highlighting Biden’s stance on refugees, saying he is “weak” and would bring in people from “dangerous” places.

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TikTok video ng KathNiel kasama si Gardo Versoza bentang-benta

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Viral at trending na ngayon ang TikTok video nina Kathryn Bernardo at Daniel Padilla!

Aliw na aliw ang KathNiel fans nang mapanood ang sikat na celebrity couple sa kanilang first TikTok video together.

Salamat sa aktor na si Gardo Versoza dahil napakiusapan niya sina DJ at Kath na mag-join sa kanyang TikTok video.

Ipinost ito ng character actor sa Instagram recently na agad namang pinusuan ng napakarami niyang followers. Umani rin ito ng daan-daang comments mula sa KathNiel fans.

“Ito na po yung matagal niyo nang nirerequest cupcakes,” ang caption ni Gardo sa kanyang post. Pinasalamatan din niya ang King & Queen of Hearts dahil pumayag ang mga ito sa kanyang request.

Unang mapapanood sa video sina Gardo at Kathryn at sa bandang ending nga nito ay biglang lumabas si Daniel at gumiling-giling.

Halos lahat ng nag-post ng comment sa TikTok video ni Gardo ay tuwang-tuwa kay Daniel. Bihira lang daw kasi nilang makita ang ganitong side ni Daniel sa social media.

Kung hindi kami nagkakamali, ini-record ni Gardo ang video sa set ng upcoming project nina Kathryn at Daniel, ang digital movie series na “The House Arrest of Us” under Star Cinema.

Isa pang version ng TikTok dance video ang ipinost ni Gardo kung saan nakasama rin nina Kathryn at Daniel ang mga co-stars nilang sina Alora Sasam at Hyubs Azarcon.

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Star setter Jia Morado now engaged

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(Photo: Jia Morado's IG post)

Philippine volleyball star setter Jia Morado just got engaged to longtime boyfriend Miguel De Guzman.

The Creamline ace announced the exciting news Thursday afternoon through her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Morado, 25, posted a photo of her and De Guzman while holding her hand in front of the camera to show a ring on her finger.

“On October 1, at exactly 11:11 a.m., my wish came true,” read Morado’s caption on her social media post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

On October 1, at exactly 11:11am, my wish came true. ☺️💍

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Man walks his way home from Manila to Eastern Samar

Elmer Recuerdo

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BORONGAN CITY – Just a week after a teenager pedaled his way from Metro Manila to Eastern Samar, another local resident arrived at the provincial border but this time just on his own two feet.

Roel Navidad, a 27-year-old construction worker from Gen. MacArthur town, arrived at the Taft checkpoint on the morning of 29 September after over a month of trekking from Manila.

His story went viral on social media when Vince Yadao, a frontliner government employee who was manning the checkpoint, posted on his Facebook page a photo of Navidad.

According to Yadao, Navidad left Metro Manila in the third week of August and decided to just take a walk since he has no money to pay for the fare after losing his job in construction due to the pandemic.

He said that when Navidad entered Sorsogon he was subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine until he was released on 16 September.

Navidad resumed his hike until he reached Matnog, Sorsogon, where he took a ferry going to San Isidro, Northern Samar.

From Northern Samar, Navidad hitched on a truck going to Jiabong, Samar, where he walked again until he reached Eastern Samar’s checkpoint in the town of Taft.

The road distance from Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon is 591 kilometers, while Jiabong, Samar to Taft, Eastern Samar is 81.5 kilometers.

When Navidad reached Taft border, the personnel manning the checkpoint immediately informed the local government unit of Gen. MacArthur regarding the arrival of one of its residents. A rescue vehicle of the LGU picked him up at the checkpoint and immediately brought him to the to09wn’s community quarantine.

Josephine Corre, the municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer of Gen MacArthur, said the LGU was able to find the relatives in Brgy. 3 of the municipality.

Teresita Samarro, an aunt of Navidad, said the relatives have lost contact with him but they are happy to have him finally back.

Navidad is the second returning resident of Eastern Samar who went on a daring journey to come home from Metro Manila in the past two weeks.

On September 21, Peter Roncales, 19 year-old son of a taho vendor, arrived at the Taft checkpoint after biking for 10 days from Parañaque City.

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James keeps eye on ultimate prize as Lakers win NBA Finals opener

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LeBron James, seeking a fourth NBA title in his 10th Finals appearance, has no trouble keeping his Los Angeles Lakers’ dominant victory in game one of the 2020 title series in perspective.

The Lakers shook off a slow start to lead the Miami Heat by as many as 32 points on the way to a 116-98 victory in Orlando, Florida, but James insisted it was no time to celebrate.

“The best teacher in life is experience,” James said. “I’ve experienced moments in my career where you have all the momentum in the world and you felt like you had the game under control, and one play here or one play there could change the course of a series or change the course of a game.”

James is still rankled by the memory of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when he played alongside Dwyane Wade for the Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.

“D-Wade hits a three right by their bench,” James recalled. “I believe it put us up either 13 or 17.

“From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand layup to steal that game.

“That burns me to this day,” James said, adding that’s why he was already looking forward to seeing where the Lakers can improve before Game 2 against the Heat on Saturday (Manila time).

“I’m extremely amped up about watching the film with our ballclub tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to watch some tonight obviously by myself, but I’m looking forward to getting together as a group tomorrow.”

While the championship series stage is nothing new to James — or the 16-time champion Lakers franchise — it’s a first for star teammate Anthony Davis.

Davis scored 34 points in an impressive Finals debut, but he, too, said the Lakers should have started and finished the game better.

The underdog Heat jumped to a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. And even after injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo they were able to narrow the final margin with a solid fourth-quarter performance.

“We have to be able to come out a little bit more aggressive and come out with a little more sense of urgency, and that’s on the starters, especially me and Bron,” Davis said. “But it feels good to get the first game.

“We’re not satisfied. We don’t like how we ended the game. That wasn’t a championship mentality, and you know, we have to be better in that regard.

“We’ll take the win, but we’ll watch film and try to take advantage, as well.”

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Bruised Butler vows to bounce back after Lakers mauling

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Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat talks to the media after the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the NBA Finals on September 30, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. (AFP)

Jimmy Butler called on his battered and bruised Miami Heat team-mates to toughen up after their game one mauling by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

Miami talisman Butler was one of several players who picked up knocks during an emphatic 116-98 defeat in Orlando which saw key Heat players Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo both exit with injuries.

Butler played down the significance of his twisted ankle and said the team would have to recover with or without Dragic in game two.

“We just got to be tougher,” Butler said. “We got to put up more of a fight. I don’t think we did that. And then it doesn’t help whenever we don’t make shots.

“It’s been that way all year long, whenever we start to miss a couple of shots, we don’t do what we’re supposed to do on the other end.”

Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday said Dragic had suffered a torn plantar fascia, a foot injury which would almost certainly rule him out of the remainder of the best-of-seven series.

A defiant Butler said Miami had enough depth to counter the loss of the Slovenian shooting guard if confirmed.

“We got to try to cover up what he gives us and make up for it,” Butler said.

“We’re capable of it. We have to be. Moving forward with or without Goran we better hurry up and tie it up 1-1.”

Butler meanwhile said Miami were clear on what needed to be improved.

“We talk about how damn near perfect that we have to play, and that was nowhere near it,” he said.

“There’s nothing to be said. We can watch all the film in the world, we understand, we know what we did not do.

“We didn’t rebound, we didn’t make them miss any shots, we didn’t get back, all of those things led to the deficit that we put ourselves in.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said a string of mistakes had left his team with too much ground to make up as the Lakers surged into a 32-point lead at one stage.

“There were too many possessions where it was either a poor offensive possession or a miss that led to a couple of poor possessions defensively or vice versa, and those stacked on top of each other,” he said.

“We’re much better than we showed tonight. I don’t have my message right now, but I’ve got a night to figure it out.”

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Cavite allows cemetery visitation from Oct. 1 to 27

Gabbie Parlade

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Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla on Thursday announced that the individuals in the provincial government will be allowed to visit their loved ones in cemeteries from 1 to 27 October amid the threat of the coronavirus disease.

He said that these protocols will be laid out to control the transmission of the virus mentioning that Cavite still has a high number of cases.

“Dahil sa pandemya, ay kailangan pa rin nating paulit-ulit na ipaalala ang social distancing rules. Lagpas 10,000 na ang positibo sa COVID dito sa Cavite at malakas ang kutob ko na baka lalong kumalat ang sakit na ito ngayong papalapit na Undas,” he said.

In a Facebook post, he said that visitors will be allowed only from 9:00 A.M. until 7 P.M. where activities such as eating, drinking of alcoholic beverages, karaoke, and selling of foods and beverages will be prohibited.

Those below 18 years old will also be not allowed to visit the cemeteries as he mentioned that teenagers are more prone to spreading the virus to the elderly population.

Above all, the wearing of face masks and face shields as part of the minimum health standards will still be regulated.

Remulla said that the municipal and city government will still be responsible in providing the appropriate regulations in each locality specifically on how many people will only be allowed to enter.

After the said duration, all cemeteries will be closed from Oct. 28 until Nov. 2.

“Alam ko po na hindi maka-Pilipino ang mga patakaran na ganito. Pero wala tayo magagawa. Kailangan malagpasan natin ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19,” he said.

Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) said that the closure of cemeteries is a ‘good practice’ to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that every celebration of the All Soul’s Day and the All Saint’s Day, memorial parks tend to be crammed with people which is already considered as a form of mass gathering.

To date, the province of Cavite has tallied 15,682 cases of COVID-19 as the nationwide record stands at over 311,000 infected individuals.

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Japan ‘Twitter killer’ victims consented to death, lawyers argue

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A Japanese man dubbed the “Twitter killer” for luring his victims on social media admitted in court Wednesday to murdering nine people, local media said.

But lawyers for Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, argued the charges should be reduced because the victims — who had expressed suicidal thoughts — gave their consent to be killed.

Shiraishi, who is also accused of dismembering his victims and storing body parts in coolboxes, did not contest nine counts of murder, saying they “are all correct”, public broadcaster NHK reported.

He is also facing rape charges, according to media reports.

Shiraishi is accused of using Twitter to contact victims aged between 15 and 26 who posted online about taking their own lives, telling them he could help them in their plans — or even die alongside them.

If convicted of murder, Shiraishi faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan.

But his lawyers want the charges against him reduced to “murder with consent”, which carries a prison sentence of between six months and seven years.

In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun daily, Shiraishi said he disagreed with his lawyers and would tell prosecutors that he had “killed without consent”.

“There were bruises on the back of the victims’ heads. It means there was no consent and I did it so that they wouldn’t resist,” he said in comments published on Wednesday.

Shiraishi was detained three years ago by police investigating the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who had reportedly tweeted about wanting to kill herself.

After she went missing, her brother apparently gained access to her Twitter account, and noticed a suspicious handle.

Police uncovered a grisly house of horrors behind Shiraishi’s front door on the morning of Halloween in 2017.

Nine dismembered bodies, with as many as 240 bone parts stashed in coolers and toolboxes, had been sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the evidence.

Shiraishi told the Mainichi Shimbun he “didn’t plan on getting caught” and boasted of not being identified until his final killing.

More than 600 people lined up for 13 public gallery seats to observe Wednesday’s first hearing, NHK said.

Japan has the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven industrialised nations, with more than 20,000 people taking their lives annually.

The suicide rate has been falling since it peaked in 2003, however.

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Lakers beat Heat in NBA Finals opener

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LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (AFP)

LeBron James flirted with a triple-double while Anthony Davis dropped 34 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat, 116-98, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday (Manila time).

James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers. Davis pulled down nine boards and dished out five assists while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 points for Los Angeles.

The Lakers started slow trailing by 13 points in the early going of the first quarter before stepping on the gas to make their first Finals appearance in a decade into a statement win.

Davis gave Los Angeles its biggest lead, 87-55, off a slamdunk with 6:04 left in the third period.

Rookie Tyler Herro cut Miami’s deficit, 109-96, with 2:31 left in the game but came a little too late for the Heat, who are in their first Finals appearance since 2014.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points, Kendrick Nun had 18 while Herro scored 14. Bam Adebayo was limited to only eight points and four rebounds.

The Heat, the Eastern Conference fifth seeds who swept the Indiana Pacers before toppling the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics on the way to the Finals, showed no sign of nerves in an energetic start that saw them take a 25-12 lead midway through the first quarter.

But the Lakers inexorably seized control, building on a three-point at the end of the first quarter as the Heat saw key contributors Goran Dragic and Adebayo exit with injuries and Butler hobbled by a twisted ankle.

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