A pro basketball league for gamers? That’s what the NBA has announced.
“Think of eBulls against the eKnicks,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated.
Silver said that the league will operate much like the NBA. There will be a regular season, playoff bracket and league finals. The season will be five months.
The players will all be custom characters, but the teams will be the same teams as are in the NBA now. So far, none of the NBA teams have fully committed to playing, but the commissioner said he expects about half to join before the opening tip-off.
The first season of this NBA 2K, as it is being called, will begin in 2018, Silver said.
The league, Silver explained, will operate just like the NBA: It’ll have a regular season, a playoff bracket, and a finals matchup. Teams of five players, each with his (or her?) own custom NBA 2K characters, will compete in a five-month season that starts in 2018. There’ll even be a draft, Silver said, although he also noted to the Wall Street Journal that none of the 30 NBA teams have fully committed to this esports league yet. (He expects around half of them to participate in the first year.)
The 26-year old grandmaster, who formerly represented Ukraine and now represents Russia due to the shifting borders of his native Crimea, has scored the first win of the World Chess Championship. Seven draws preceded the game.
Sergey Karjakin, playing black, beat titleholder Magnus Carlsen of Norway, and now leads 4.5-3.5.
The championship began November 11 in New York and ends on the 28th or 30th. It is a 12-game match. If the score is tied after 12 games, a rapid chess match decides the winner. If still tied, five 2-game blitz chess matches follow, and an Armageddon can finally break a tie after that.
Scrawled on the “Leave a special message to Rio” wall many Americans chose to write “Sorry about Lochte” and other apologies as they departed, in addition to warm thanks to Brazil.
Ryan Lochte’s lies have become front page news across America and other nations. The New York Daily News referred to him as the “Lochte Ness Monster” and the Post as “The Ugly American,” hearkening to negative stereotypes of loud, brash American behavior in other countries.
Since the news, Americans have been voicing both embarrassment and anger at the Olympic swimmer sent to represent them.
Lochte himself has been apologizing non-stop since his lies became known, making several emotional sorries part of every interview. The athlete has also lost all his endorsement deals as a result of the mistake.
It’s become journalistic shorthand to describe Iceland’s impact at Euro 2016 as ‘volcanic’, but the team’s success in France is down to the close bond that exists in in the squad, and the harmony between the players and the fans.
These are the two constructive, rather than destructive, forces setting the scene for a history-making tournament for Lars Lagerback and Heimer Hallgrimsson’s players, and its little wonder that people around the world have taken a shine to them.
Such is the good feeling and bonhomie, even the fans are getting in on the act of charming the world; their good conduct means they may usurp the Republic of Ireland’s green army and become unofficially recognized as the best supporters in world football.
Their ominous, Viking roar is designed to drive on their team, in contrast to the deep pop of the flares and hooligan violence that serve only to disrupt matches and create disorder.
And they share with Ireland an underdog typecasting that is befitting of a windswept island in the Atlantic; and Euro 2016 can be for Iceland what Italia 1990 was for the Irish, a transformative event that was more about lifting a nation and less about the football.
A Team That Can Play
But they can play football, and that 1-1 draw against Hungary in the Stade Velodrome felt like a loss; Gylfi Sigurdsson slumped to the grass on the final whistle and the entire team were left to rue two points dropped.
Many of the players graduated from the Under-21 side together, and the fact that the men in the blue jersey share a friendship that extends beyond the white lines of a football pitch means they will be united in these low moments.
This familiarity is hardly surprising considering how their co-manager, Hallgrimsson, doubles as a dentist and is beloved in his community.
Hallgrimsson has also revealed a unique tradition that used to take place before every Iceland game – 200 fans would gather and learn of the lineup before the media got a chance to see it; and those fans always kept the information secret.
The practice has been discontinued now because there are too many fans following them in France, and that number looks set to grow because the Nordics keep putting in good performances – on the pitch and in the stands.
Their propensity for a headline grabbing quote or a robust tackle show that they’re not unblemished saints, but the freedom and innocence they bring to Euro 2016 is a refreshing antidote to the violence that continues to mar this tournament.
It’s become journalistic shorthand to describe Iceland’s impact at Euro 2016 as ‘volcanic’, but the team’s success in France is down to the close bond that exists in in the squad, and the harmony between the players and the fans.
Archery tag. Do you love dodgeball? Do you love archery? Do you love exciting action? This sport has all of these, and its popularity is rising.
New Zealander Sam Humphreys is expanding the new sport. It’s catching on locally, and Humphreys’ hopes to hold national competitions for the island. International competitions, too — the Humphreys are trying to develop a team to play against Australia next year.
Humphreys and his wife Paula-Lee are already active travelling around their region of New Zealand, promoting the sport and their company NZ Bow Sports Ltd. Local businesses now sell archery tag equipment, archery-tag themed parties are held, and holiday programmes include the sport as an entertainment option.
Archery tag spread to the Australian continent from the US a couple of years ago, and currently the growing sport has over 350 licences in 34 countries.
With four six-minute quarters, players can be exhausted at the end of an intense match, which starts when a whistle blows and the five players on each side rush to the safe zone between the two sides to grab their arrows, then rush back and begin the engagement.
Players aim for each other and for the five-disk targets. If a player is hit anywhere except the head, or if his arrow is caught mid-air, he is out of the game, and if all players on a team are knocked out the team loses.
However, players can be brought back into the game by their team members when those team members catch an arrow mid-flight or hit one of their opponents’ five disks.
Players are required to wear a protective helmet at all times, and the arrows are foam-tipped.
Unlike paintball, to which archery tag has been compared, the game is family friendly — it doesn’t hurt when you get hit anymore than getting hit by a tennis ball hurts, according to Humphreys.
A joint letter was sent today to the International Olympics Committee calling on them to reject China’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, citing past claims that the 2008 Games would reduce China’s human rights violations contrasted with evidence that the 2008 Games actually increased human rights abuses in the Asian nation.
The letter, which was submitted one week before the Olympic committee makes its decision, was signed by the president of the World Uyghur Congress, the director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, the president of Initiatives for China and a former Tibetan political prisoner, jailed and tortured for actions related to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
The letter states, “All of the people we represent have suffered as a result of the Chinese government’s contempt for human rights. We hope that you are aware by now that the 2008 Beijing Games did nothing to alleviate human rights abuses in China or enhance freedom.”
The letter warns the Olympic committee not to make the same mistake it made last time, when the IOC expected awarding Beijing the Games would improve human rights in China.
“The reality is that the 2008 Beijing Olympics left a trail of human rights abuses directly linked to the Games,” the letter asserts, citing Human Rights Watch’s 2008 report on the Beijing Games, which documents some of the abuses.
The letter also references the Olympic spirit, which, as other human rights groups representatives have pointed out, expressly requires safeguarding the dignity of the individual as a requirement of Olympism, and questions how allowing the Games to become a part of human rights violations will reflect on the Olympics.
“Until the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are prepared to reform and recognize the inherent rights of all people, they should not be awarded the honour of another Olympics,” the letter states. “The IOC must recognise that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if the worsening human rights crisis in China is simply ignored.”
The conclusion of the letter is a warning: “[T]he Games returning to Beijing will be a green light for the government’s ongoing abuse of their rights and denial of their hopes for freedom.”
The International Olympic Committee will make its decision about which nation will host the 2022 Games July 31, and rights groups are questioning — and petitioning — the committee about China’s bid, referring to China’s ongoing human rights abuses and claims the committee made last time around that awarding China the Games would improve human rights in the Asian nation.
Awarding China again, rights groups like Free Tibet say, would in effect be supporting China’s human rights abuses.
“Giving the Games to Beijing again when we know it won’t alter their policies is sending the message to China that their human rights abuses are no obstacle to prestige on the world stage,” Alistair Currie, Campaigns and Media Manager at Free Tibet, told The Speaker.
“Unlike in 2001, when China was an unknown quantity when it came to the Olympics, we now know how it responds to being awarded them. The IOC had hopes that the award may improve human rights in China. In reality, it did no such thing. Continued repression in China culminated in the brutal suppression of the March 2008 Uprising in Tibet, just a few months before the Games.
“China is far more confident on the world stage than it was 14 years ago but is on a backwards path when it comes to respect for human and civil rights. Now couldn’t be a worse time for giving China a gift like the Olympics Games.”
“Unlike in 2001, when China was an unknown quantity when it came to the Olympics, we now know how it responds to being awarded them.”
Currie elaborated on a focal area of ongoing human rights abuses in China, Tibet:
“In Tibet now, Tibetans face more intensive surveillance than ever before and China will use any indication of Tibetan pride and resistance to Beijing’s policies as a pretext for repression — including arbitrary detention and punitive sentences. Tibetans can be imprisoned for simply singing a song or peacefully protesting to protect their environment. Entire communities can be punished for the acts of one person and China doesn’t hesitate to use force — just last week, they fired upon a demonstration, leading to 25 people being admitted to hospital. China’s grip on Tibet is tightening. What we know for sure is that Tibetans will continue to resist China’s rule — and that means things could be worse by 2022.”
In addition to an online petition that has reached almost 10,000 signatures, Free Tibet recently joined 174 other rights groups and communicated with the Olympic Committee to question the propriety of awarding China another Olympics. Currie referred to the return letter from the IOC, in which the Olympic board stated, “Choosing the host city of the Olympic Games does not mean that the IOC necessarily agrees with the political and/or the legal system in the host country.”
“We must acknowledge that we have neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country,” the letter continued. “The IOC is neither a world government, nor a superior world parliament.”
However, Currie noted recent changes in Olympic policy following the Sochi Games in Russia last year. He also commented on a distinction he saw between the two 2022 candidates — both of which raise questions about human rights abuses and Olympic hosting rights.
“Now couldn’t be a worse time for giving China a gift like the Olympics Games.”
“Interestingly, they do say they should be aware of the “political implications” of their choice but the remainder of the letter suggests that that level of “consideration” is very limited. After Sochi, the IOC introduced measures in the Host City contracts to ensure no discrimination or, for instance, environmental destruction accompanies the Games themselves. These requirements don’t apply to the political system overall, however.
“The IOC is trying to insulate itself from any criticism or fallout from giving the Games to countries with political and human rights problems and there’s no surprise in that when both candidates for 2022 – Beijing and Almaty – fall into that category. One distinction with Almaty, however, is that it’s a small country and it remains possible that the award of the Games may bring about some positive change. That may not be the case of course, but in Beijing’s case, we know it won’t bring about positive change.”
South Korean swimming super star Tae-Hwan Park will attend FINA’s doping hearing, held in Lausanne, Switzerland on Feb. 27, as he failed a doping test last September during the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
FINA, the international governing body of swimming, informed the Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) at the end of last October that Park tested positive for testosterone with his A sample. Testosterone is a male hormone on the Prohibited List of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Although Park and the KSF asked for the analysis of the B sample, again they were finally notified last December that the B sample also tested positive.
His agency, Team GMP, has sued a local hospital where Park received chiropractic treatment last July for a failed doping test on Jan. 20. The agency claimed that a doctor did not clarify the substances of the injections given him.
According to a statement from Team GMP, Park had a free injection, following a doctor’s suggestion, after double-checking whether the injection contained any banned-substances. The agency added that he did not fail a test during game-time last September in Incheon, Korea.
The hospital’s officials were under prosecutor’s investigation on Jan. 23. The doctor, however, told the prosecutor that Park had injections of Nebido, which contains Testosterone to boost levels of a male hormone, was delivered in December 2013, not last July. The officials argued that his agency is trying to shift the responsibility to the hospital in preparation for a hearing.
Park was also examined by the prosecution on Jan. 25. The prosecutor will announce the result of the investigation this week, based on medical records and testimonies from both sides.
Regardless of the different arguments from each side, Article 2.2 Anti-Doping Rule Violation of WADA states that, “It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body and that no Prohibited Method is Used.”
Consequently, it seems to be difficult for Park, who tested positive to the best-known banned substance, to avoid a suspension.
Moreover, the rules of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) might thwart Park’s hope for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games if he is to be suspended for at least a month by FINA. Under the rules, amended last July, an athlete who has been suspended for a positive drug test may not be selected for a national team for three years, starting on the day that the suspension ends.
Meanwhile, officials from the KSF and KOC discussed preparations for a hearing with Park’s agency last Friday.
Tae-Hwan Park is the first Korean swimmer to win medals at the Olympic Games, where he gained one gold and three silvers in the 400m and 200m freestyle in 2008 and 2012. Park has recently visited the United States to find a new training venue and coach, ahead of the Rio 2016, after parting with his Australian coach at the end of 2014.
That England and South Korea agreed to swap votes the day before the ballot is just one of the claims included in a dossier of files that was handed to a UK government body this weekend. The collection of documents also includes allegations against Russia and Qatar, and prompted UK MP John Whittingdale to conclude that the whole body of evidence against the World Cup was highly damning.
“When it’s taken together with all the other evidence that has already been accumulated, it does paint a picture of a deeply corrupt organisation and that the whole of the bidding process was completely flawed,” said John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
“I think what is alleged England to have been doing is mild compared to the allegations made against other nations,” said Whittingdale. “But nevertheless it’s obviously serious and it is a breach of the rules and therefore we will want to know whether it’s true and how the FA justify it.”
However, Whittingdale commented on the unproven nature of the documents.
“A lot of it is reports and hearsay. It isn’t necessarily hard evidence. It isn’t proven,” said Whittingdale.
This collection of damning information comes shortly after another report by US lawyer Michael Garcia, the summary of which cleared Russia and Qatar of foul play. However, Garcia commented on the summary of his report saying that it had been written by a senior FIFA ethics committee official and was factually wrong.
In response to the new dossier, Russia’s 2018 bid team issued a statement. “These allegations are not new, but the evidence has only ever indicated that Russia 2018 behaved professionally and fairly throughout the bidding process,” read the Russian teams statement, which “categorically rejected” all of the “entirely unfounded” claims published in the Sunday Times.
The first National Bicycling Day assembly of the Philippines took off in Pasig City in a venue named ‘Tiendesitas’. Bicycle riders of all ages and genders were there to celebrate the love and passion of the cycling outdoor sport. They were about 20,000 who filled the large parking road , and you could see the myriad of bicyclists waiting for the sunrise, all taking their time on a warm Sunday morning. With security surrounding the vast congregation, different cycling groups from all over the city and the provinces gathered for a long grand ride –a first ever to make the National Bicycling Day a momentous occasion.
All types of bikes were present–simple folding bikes, commute bikes, childrens’ bikes, the majority of both mountain bikes, road bikes and vintage bikes were widespread! It was massive to observe the use of all types of electronic gadgets every minute–smartphones, digital point and shoot and professional cameras, tablets, ‘Go Pro’ helmet cameras ( the rage of gratuitous quick focused riders everywhere), The riders of all mixes seemed to know it was a memorable event for all and souvenirs are social media viral topics–both videos and photos are what online “streaming” on the web is all about.
The traffic marshalls were all the required bodyguards of the peloton people. They were quite a horde,to make the entourage free from roadside hazards–accidents are to be avoided as much as possible. As you glide along the highways when the ride already rolled, you’ll see the marshalls yelling to wayward riders who speed on two-way routes, and the guiding of the travellers in detours and sharp turns.
Without them, the cyclists would lose sight of their paths and discipline would have not been enforced.
With all the concerns of the security, the whole trip was brilliantly covered. Participants saw the different virtues of bikes: from expensive bicycles with their ease of maneuvering and lightweight luxury to the cheapest commute bikes looking dirty, heavy and with pretty much old school gears. Some had the latest models–full suspension bikes that could handle the awful terrain on some parts of damaged asphalt while Italian imports displayed high-end components and cut through the throngs of riders like a blur. It wasn’t a race–it was a thrill ride for all, as all viewers would have seen. Joining here was not a Tour de France thing nor some Olympic BMX challenge–it was a pedal to the metal joyride.
The ride ended with a lesser number of riders that reached their destination safe and sound. Others seem to have bailed out due to the 75 kilometer radius of the ride. It didn’t faze the finishers at all–no trophies, no medals nor grand prizes. But the event was a statement to the crowds along the pavements and the vehicles who saw the sweat-drenched riders –that bikes on the road will always be symbols of zero emission machinery. Bicycles are pure human power–no gas stations, no rollbacks, no diesel headaches at all. Despite the trends like electric bikes, pocket bikes (little sportbikes in dwarf sizes) and Chinese so-called “underbone” motorcycles’ which have sold like hotcakes everywhere, the presence of bicycles have shown support from the people. You can ride more races, have more fun rides, more track competitions, and more participants with the pedal-powered citizens. It won’t be until next December when this event will happen again. We all can look forward to another trek with social impact.
A former FIFA lead investigator, Terry Steans, who spent two years investigating FIFA for match fixing, has warned that football is “incredibly vulnerable” to the practice. The Football Association confirmed for the first time last weekend that it had a list of known and suspected match-fixers.
“Football is incredibly vulnerable,” said Terry Steans, who worked on over 30 investigations as FIFA’s Global Investigation Coordinator between 2010 and 2012. “People talk about the millions FIFA makes. They turned over £4bn in the last World Cup, but in the Asian gambling market that equates to a Thursday.”
FIFA made a reported $4 billion in television rights, sponsorship deals and ticket sales during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“That’s just one day of revenue. The money available is phenomenal, especially out of organised crime and the proceeds of organised crime.”
“Billions of dollars are bet on football every week,” noted Steans. “Most transacted electronically or in cash, making it a huge target.”
Steans referred to the conviction of a gang caught fixing British football earlier this year, in which Steans played a central role.
Steans infiltrated the Singapore-based gang and brought them to the UK. The gang was covertly recorded offering match fixing services.
Two fixers and one non-league footballer were convicted. Chan Sankarran and Krishna Ganeshan, both Singaporeans, were jailed on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, and Michael Boateng, a player for Whitehawk FC of the Conference South, was also charged. The two Singaporeans received five year jail terms, and Boateng received 16 months.
“We’ve put two people in prison, but two more will move into their place, so it’s forever ongoing,” said Steans.
Steans has in the past commented on how easy it is for organized gangs to fix football matches.
“I’ve investigated cases where fixing syndicates have provided referees for World Cup warm-up matches. The football association’s referees committee usually appoints officials, but in this case, it fell to a sports management company. This gave them control of the game and they could dictate the result they wanted.
“I have also seen several cases where sports management companies are used as a front to offer international mini-tournaments.
“All expenses are paid, a match appearance fee is given to the association. This is the model we used for our investigation, and as you can see, can be very successful.”
Last weekend the Football Association (FA) confirmed for the first time that it had a list of known and suspected footballers and associates, who FA keeps under observation in efforts to counter match fixing.
“The fixers can go anywhere, they can attack in any jurisdiction. They’re fearless and the UK is no different to anywhere else in the world,” said Steans.
“It takes place all over the world from Central to South America, in South-East Asia and into Eastern Europe, so it’s not strange that sitting just across the water we’re not immune to it.”