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Is MbS Tactfully using Sports to Rebrand Saudi’s Stained Image?

Mirror News Desk



MbS dominated region Saudi Arabia can get boycotted by Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic

Last updated on November 19th, 2018

Vowing to make the world believe in their decision making power, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are still evaluating whether or not to play in MbS dominated Saudi Arabia. Besides, another bombshell to this series of shocks is the January event in which, Juventus and AC Milan will contest in Italy’s Supercup, Riyadh. A move condemned by the Amnesty international.

While sports must always do-away from all the political matters, it is vital to understand that it cannot overlook the suffering of humanity, because even it conceptualizes to promote equality at all the levels.

The recent development comes amidst Nadal’s and Djokovic’s decision to play in Saudi Arabia, post the brutal murder of Saudi critic and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul. Both athletes are witnessing outrage over ignoring humanity and choosing the nation, which has often protected its image by holding such events.

As a result, as Nadal and Djokovic landed to play at the Paris Masters, last week, they were asked to explain about their respective stands on playing in Jeddah. Nadal explained, “When this type of thing happens, it’s catastrophic, it’s terrible. A journalist lost his life. And I know that horrible things have happened inside this consulate. So, we are evaluating the situation and we hope that things will clear up as quickly as possible. “

Novak’s took a diplomatic approach and said, “Unfortunately, we were both drawn to this situation, adding that the commitment was made over a year ago to prepare the season. It was a tennis decision, professional at the time. Now, I am aware of what is happening with Saudi Arabia. When you see something like that, of course, you have a feeling. But I cannot tell you more.”

Further, remaining professional and respecting the people to whom committed, Djokovic also known as the Joker, asked for “more information about what is happening, in order to make a rational decision to know whether to go or not. “

Rational or Irrational
Not looking too far, Roger Federer recently turned down the offer to play in Saudi and said, he didn’t want to go out and play there (Saudi) at that time, adding that it was a quick-decision. Arguing, if a 20-time Grand Slam champion can do that with utter ease, why can’t Rafa and Joker?

Besides, American sports columnist Bill Simmons wrote an open letter to Novak Djokovic and explained, he fears Joker would face a deeply damaging backlash if he plays in Saudi Arabia. He also highlighted that Saudi Arabia – conspirator behind killing Jamal Khashoggi – is now waging a fierce war of starvation in Yemen, has carried out 18,000 airstrikes, which has pushed 5.2 million children at the brink of starvation.

Tennis has a rich history, and people who take the right decision at the right time, can really define greatness. This long list includes, John McEnroe’s recent refusal of $1 million to play an exhibition match in apartheid-ridden South Africa. Besides, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Billie Jean King are a few others who have used their success to counter such situations and have always put humanity above everything else.

Ironically, with Nadal who runs Rafa Nadal Foundation, solely to help socially-disadvantaged youngsters from being excluded out by society, him thinking twice, draws a parallel.

Correspondingly, athletes from other arenas include WWE’s 16-time World Champion, John Cena and the leader of Yes Movement, Daniel Bryan, turned down from participating in Crown Jewel, a pay-per-view event hosted in Saudi Arabia.

Switching Sports
Football isn’t looking much different right now with Juventus and AC Milan contesting in Riyadh considered highly debatable. Playing in different countries might be a usual practice in European Leagues, but for FIFA and all the other bodies, who say no to racism and have an eye for personal growth and development, choosing the Kingdom gives out a pretty bad impression.

According to the Italian media, the agreement between Saudi Arabia and National League Professional Series A, will bring back several million euros to be distributed amongst both clubs and the league. A comprehensive strategy used by Crown prince, MbS to lure big leagues and personalities to his kingdom.

Amnesty International has also urged the clubs to uphold their decision from playing in Saudi Arabia.

‘Sugar-coated’ Plans of Modernization
MbS, has often called on his modernization plans as the new face of Saudi Arabia, an ode conveying the progressive side to the nation. While he has certainly allowed women to drive from June, Saudi Arabia continues to detain at least 12 women rights activists from May. This includes “right to drive” campaigner, Loujain al-Hathloul. All facing detention without any charges. Yet, another sugar-coated move involves letting the women enter sports stadiums for the first time.

Contrarily, the kingdom has a problem with freedom of expression, especially when used by those who speak against it. In a span of past several months, people have been detained over expressing what they do not like. The big names include reformist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda and women’s right activist Israa al-Ghomgham.

From torture inside prisons, to raging a continuous war against humanity, and supporting bids to suppress people – what MbS and his plans for modernization really offer to Saudi Arabia?

Using Sports as an Outright Agenda

MbS and Saudi Arabia know how using sports can subtly get their job done, and are therefore, using it to rebrand their country’s image. The main aim however, is to internationally pass on a message of Saudi influence and the greatness of their Crown Prince, MbS.

Putting light on big sporting personalities and their time of visit shows how each event hides the reality behind closed doors. The recent and the ongoing controversy around Jamal Khashoggi’s killing on October 2, saw leaders across the world condemning such an act, yet during this phase it hosted an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina, last month. A plausible move made with an aim to protect its degrading image.

For Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the deadline draws closer, theory of even them getting lured for a million dollars, would start to spread like a wild fire. Also, even if the contract was signed by both the players last year, the situation wasn’t any different, with constant violation of human rights happening in and across the Saudi borders, anyway.

Will sports’ named and famed contest in Saudi Arabia or not, time will unveil next. Howbeit, if they do so, ironically, humanity would drop a notch down to MbS’ strategy of getting the job done on the bases of his ancestral wealth and repressive streak.


Coronavirus Grips 19 Countries, Paris to Evacuate Citizens from Wuhan

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Having taken 19 countries under its grip, coronavirus cases have outnumbered 6,000, leading to 132 deaths as on January 29. On January 25, French authorities announced plans to evacuate hundreds of its citizens from Wuhan, China (considered as the epicentre of the virus).

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has refuted all calls for temperature screening of passengers flying in from China, positing the act to be ineffectual. Also, she said that the decision to ban flights from China must be taken by the European Union.

The news of evacuation was confirmed yesterday as the French land became victim of fourth case. Speaking to reporters in Paris, Health Ministry Director Jerome Salomon said that an elderly Chinese tourist’s “serious condition” is undergoing emergency treatment in a hospital at Beijing. The tourist was visiting France from the Hubei province, where 100+ people have been killed so far.

In order to control the spread of coronavirus, the Chinese government has sealed Wuhan and neighbouring cities, thereby restricting movement of nearly 10 million people including foreigners.

Buzyn said that France will send a plane to Wuhan for expatriating 500 to 1,000 French citizens eligible for repatriation. The citizens coming to France late Friday or early Sunday on the first evacuated flight will be kept in a holding facility in Paris. They will stay for a period of 14 days, which is the estimated incubation period of coronavirus. This period will avoid further transmission; in case any citizen is infected.

Sources claim the airlift will be co-funded by the EU under its civil protection mechanism.

Those who show symptoms similar to the flu shall be given proper treatment. Speaking to CNews television, Deputy Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said that the first flight would bring only healthy passengers (who do not have any symptoms of illness). For those who may be carrying the virus, no date has been set as yet.

As stated in a EU statement yesterday, EU citizens would also be evacuated from Wuhan. The statement affirmed, “Initial numbers indicate that around 250 French citizens will be transported in the first aircraft and over 100 EU citizens from other countries will join the second aircraft.”

Records from Middle Eastern state news agency WAM claim that the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention has also announced a case of the new coronavirus affecting people from one family coming from the city of Wuhan in China.

Considering the extent of danger, Gulf airports have announced plans to screen all passengers arriving from China.

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Coronavirus: The Deadly Plague Drops its Perils in UAE

Mirror News Desk



Coronavirus: The Deadly Plague Drops its Perils in UAE

The coronavirus epidemic is spreading faster than fire, burning out several lives and leaving scars on many others across the globe. The blazing flames recently crossed the boundaries of Middle East, entering the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

On Wednesday, the Gulf nation confirmed the first case in the region, where the Chinese virus came with a family arriving from a city at the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan. The doctors are now treating the family affected from the illness causing flu-like symptoms.

Citing the Health and Prevention Ministry, the UAE’s state-run news agency WAM announced that the cases came from “members of a family arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan”. However, no other details were disclosed, including where the family resides or where are they getting treated. Besides, the country also didn’t confirm the total number of people afflicted by the virus outbreak.

The coronavirus called 2019-nCoV has reportedly killed at least 132 people in China and infected nearly 6,000, since December. Besides, in 17 countries at least 47 cases were confirmed, including in the US, France, Canada, Thailand, Australia and France. While no deaths outside China were reported, the virus is believed to have spread to more than 50 million people globally.

The United Arab Emirates, a hub to global air travel and home to Emirates and Etihad Airways, is the most recent country to confirm a case as the lockdown expands. The Chinese authorities last Thursday shut down the airport and other transportation in Wuhan, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. Therefore, it wasn’t immediately clear how the virus-infected family left Wuhan and made it to the UAE.

Officials in the Emirates are taking “all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization,” the ministry said. “The general health condition is not a cause for concern.”

People infected with coronavirus could experience symptoms like cough and fever and in severe cases pneumonia. Scientists – including the researchers from China, Australia, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals – are currently working to develop a vaccine against the new disease.

It took 20 months for the researchers to develop a vaccine against SARS in 2003 and six months to combat the Zika epidemic in 2015. For coronavirus, the Chinese authorities previously declined all assistance from international health officials. However, on January 28, they permitted the expert teams coordinated by the World Health Organization to visit China and assist in finding out a way to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.

Although the source of virus is not yet known, the WHO said that majority of the cases were milder and nearly 20 per cent were experiencing severe illnesses. However, the death toll continues to rise with every passing day, while the scientists have only just begun their search for vaccine.

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NBA Star Kobe Bryant Leaves Void as World Mourns Tragic Air Crash

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NBA Star Kobe Bryant Leaves Void as World Mourns Tragic Air Crash

He was named 18 times in the NBA All-Star team, won five NBA titles with LA Lakers and two Olympic gold medals with the US national team, there was only but one Kobe Bryant, who was taken away in a tragic air accident on Sunday.

The US Basketball legend who was on board with his daughter Gianna and seven others, lost their lives in a crash in the city of Calabasas, California. As reported, Kobe, among others was in his private helicopter, when it came down on Sunday morning and burst into flames.

Other victims involved in the crash whose identity have been revealed include Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa – who played in the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter – and the girl’s coach Christina Mauser.

The crash site, which was near a residential area in the city of Calabasas, was said to be about the size of football field.

Bryant, played for LA Lakers throughout his 20-year-career and is regarded as one of the best to have ever played the game. He also famously scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the second-highest single-game total in NBA history.

Outside basketball, Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for the best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute motion picture based on a love letter he had written to Basketball in 2015.

As the news of Bryant’s death broke, tributes from celebrities and fans around the globe poured in. He was also remembered at the Grammy Awards, with host Alicia Keys saying, “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now.” “Because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” she added highlighting how ironically were the Grammy Awards scheduled to be held at Los Angeles Lakers’ stadium on the very day of Bryant’s death.

Meanwhile, the NBA also issued the statement stating it was “devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna”. “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” the association added.

Investigation Launched

Federal safety investigators opened an investigation on Sunday into the helicopter crash that killed Bryant. The helicopter, identified as a Sikorsky S-76B, crashed at around 9.47am, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Jennifer Homendy said in a press conference.

The investigators said that though there was dense fog and low visibility in the area, but it is not immediately clear if that is was what led to the air crash. The NTSB is sending a “go team” to the crash site and will evaluate the helicopter’s maintenance records, the pilot of the helicopter, and look into the owner and operator of S-76B, Homendy informed yesterday.

Tributes to the Legend

Michael Jordon led the tributes to his fellow NBA legend Bryant stating that he was “one of the greats of the game and a creative force”.

“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force,” he added.

The former US President Barack Obama also shared the grief over the loss and said: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud KipchogeI said: “I join the whole world and sporting fraternity in mourning the death of NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a fatal helicopter crash in the United States. “

“My deepest heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and fans. Rest in peace Kobe,” he added.

The world has certainly lost a star – a star that did magic with a basketball in his hand, a super dad who loved his family more than anything and a great mentor who inspired millions to play the game. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant!

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Wild Animal Markets Jeopardizing Human Lives as Coronavirus Spreads

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Wild Animal Markets Jeopardizing Human Lives as Coronavirus Spreads

Beginning their new year, people in China were expected to carry on their usual get together and celebrations until coronavirus outbreak kicked in and claimed more than 40 lives.

Known as 2019-nCoV, the pneumonia-like coronavirus has spread its roots from Wuhan to other Chinese provinces. And now in order to curb the crisis, wild animal markets have been called for ban by experts, both in and outside China.

The group of experts have argued that the sale of endangered species for human consumption have given rise to outbreaks like coronavirus. The Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which has been shut following claims that it was the source of infection, is home to a wide variety of animals both live and slaughtered.

The list of animals at the Da Zhong domestic include, live wolf pups, golden, cicadas, scorpions, bamboo rats, squirrels, foxes, civets, hedgehogs, salamanders, turtles and crocodiles.

Back in 2002-03, after Sars – the severe acute respiratory syndrome similar to coronavirus – got spread, there was a partial cease on the wild animal markets. Chinese scientists at that time wrote papers to spread awareness on perils of permitting people to eat and trade wild meat.

However, the markets are operating again and are catering to large number of people across China, Vietnam and other parts of south-east Asia, said Prof Diana Bell from the University of East Anglia’s School of Biological Sciences.

Evolution has been central to human being’s survival, but it feels uncanny to state how will they adapt to new viruses, when proper vaccination is unavailable to a number of past diseases.

Ironically, when Ebola came from monkeys who were infected by bats and eaten in the African bush, its possible explanation was poverty. But in China, eating wild meat is a luxury.

“These have now become luxury items,” said Bell. “It’s a perfect storm. There is a shift from subsistence hunting to feed your family – that might make your family sick but it doesn’t go anywhere else. Now, these animals are being sold into a multibillion pound illegal trade, right up there with drugs. They cost more than livestock,” she added.

Although reports have highlighted that the coronaviruses behind both Sars and Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome) were traced and linked to bats, it is still not necessary that other wild rodents cannot be blamed for the chaos.

The issue with eating wildlife meat is menacing and not luxury, where human beings have become transmitters of dangerous viruses. The Wildlife Conservative Society is also calling for the closure of live animal markets that sell wildlife for human consumption. Currently, it is not known how long will it take to control coronavirus outbreak, but the first major step must be to shut all markets that are jeopardizing existence of human lives.

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

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Davos 2020: Greta, Trump Open Debate of Economy and Sustainability

Davos 2020 brings silent rivals, Greta and Trump, together!

Globe’s biggest elite businessmen gathering, the World Economic Forum is back in Davos, Switzerland. The 50th annual meet up in the Swiss Alps convened the honchos of politics and business on January 21, to enlighten the panel on the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.

The opening day of Davos 2020 passed under the dominance of cold rivals — the US President Donald Trump and the climate activist Greta Thunberg. The teenage activist gave a grim message stating that everybody is talking about climate change, but no one is taking any action.

However, President Trump attacked her climate crisis warnings, stating that the world should stop listening to “prophets of doom”. Like never before, the two didn’t meet face-to-face at the WEF too, leaving the global business leaders in a dilemma about who they were referring to.

The annual gathering was largely seen as a billionaires’ stadium, where the rich debated. However, Greta Thunberg’s appearance on the first day of Davos 2020 signalled relevance of global warming in business circles, but only few leaders from the chiefly responsible industries were present at the panel.

Although corporate executives boast of their increasing concerns about the environment, Thunberg stated that none of it is enough. “The climate and environment is a hot topic right now, thanks to young people pushing,” the 17-year-old said at the Swiss ski resort on Tuesday. “Pretty much nothing has been done, since the global emissions of CO2 have not reduced.”

Politicians from the left, the right and the centre, all have failed in striving sustainability, she said. “No political ideology or economic structure has managed to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world.”

The Swedish environmental activist also mocked the US President’s claim that his concern for environment could be seen as he supported the initiative of planting 1tn trees. “Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough, and it cannot replace real mitigation and re-wilding nature. We don’t need to lower emissions. Emissions need to stop,” she argued.

Greta Thunberg’s alarming words at Davos 2020 shouted of the climate crisis and demanded immediate resolutions. “We don’t want it done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021, we want it done now,” she stated.

However, Donald Trump said that it is “a time for optimism” and “not a time for pessimism”. As Greta watched from the audience, Trump continued, “We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

The Greta-Trump visible and unspoken clash first came to light, when the teenage activist was filmed staring furiously at Trump in September 2019 at the United Nations.

Besides, shortly after Greta was named person of the year by Time magazine in December, Trump tweeted, “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

In response, the Swedish activist changed her Twitter biography to, “A teenager working on her anger management problem.”

While Davos 2020 saw steaming debates over climate issue on the very first day, a lot is due to come on the three-day annual gathering. After Greta, hundreds of other climate activists are due to arrive on foot at the ski resort. The activists, who “are tired of empty promises”, will reportedly stage a demonstration calling for the end of the World Economic Forum.

It’s another year of the businessmen and politicians get together, where the debates and networking is the key agenda of the leaders. The President of world’s one of the most influential countries, Trump was seen boasting of America’s growth record.

On its 50th anniversary, Davos certainly is expected to see a transformation, where the youth fighting for climate will be launching endless questions at the leaders.

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