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Shorts: Aus human rights body to probe gymnastics abuse complaints

July 30, 2020 16:49 IST
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Image used for representational purposes

Image used for representational purposes. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Australia's human rights watchdog will conduct a review of the country's gymnastics program following complaints of physical and mental abuse from a slew of former athletes, the sport's national governing body said on Thursday.

The mistreatment of gymnasts has been in the spotlight since last month's release of Netflix documentary "Athlete A", which is based on a newspaper investigation into the abuse of American athletes that led to the jailing of team doctor Larry Nassar.

Former Australian gymnasts have since shared their accounts of being assaulted by coaches, fat-shamed and made to train and compete while injured.

 

Gymnastics Australia (GA) said the Australian Human Rights Commission had agreed to conduct a review to "build an understanding of the culture of gymnastics in Australia and any barriers there may be in reporting (abusive) behaviour".

"The Commission will facilitate a series of listening and focus groups, seek written submissions and conduct interviews with key stakeholders to understand athlete (both past and present) experiences within the sport," GA Chief Executive Kitty Chiller said in a statement.

"(It) will also review current policies and practices relating to the safety and wellbeing of athletes and the implementation and governance structures around those policies."

The review is due for completion in the first quarter of 2021, with a report to follow, GA said.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) praised GA's action.

"Committing to an independent review of policies, practices and governance structures sends a strong signal to the gymnastics community and indeed the broader sporting community of their commitment," AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll said in a statement.

The announcement of the review comes weeks after British Gymnastics said it would review its program following complaints of abuse from a number of former athletes.

Sports Awards could to be delayed: Ministry official

The National Sports Awards ceremony this year is likely to be delayed by a month or two due to the COVID-19 pandemic but a final decision will be taken only after receiving guidance from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a Sports Ministry official has said.

The National Sports Awards include the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand honours, conferred every year by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29.

The ceremony coincides with the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. But this year, it might be delayed due to the pandemic, although a final decision is still awaited.

"We haven't heard anything from the Rashtrapati Bhavan yet. We are waiting for a communication with regard to the Sports awards. So, at this point of time, it is very difficult to say what will happen," the ministry official told PTI.

"Currently, public gathering is prohibited across the country due to COVID-19 so no functions are being organised at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

"In the past also, the awards ceremony has been organised with delays, so in case it cannot be held on August 29, we can hold it one or two months later. The well-being and safety of all should be the priority right now," he added.

The pandemic had last month forced the sports ministry to extend the deadline for submission of online applications for the awards. It also allowed athletes to self-nominate in view of the "difficulties" being faced by them to find recommenders amid the lockdown.

The self-nomination has resulted in a huge number of applicants for the awards but the sports ministry is yet to form a committee to select the eventual winners with just a month left for the ceremony if it is held on time.

It has been learnt that the ministry is yet to start screening of the applications and a delay is inevitable.

"The sports awards this year will definitely be delayed because screening of applications is a tedious task which is yet to begin," a ministry source told PTI.

"But the awards will definitely be given away. There is no question of denying deserving athletes and coaches their due recognition." PTI  SSC

Sports Minister sanctions Rs 5 lakh for financially distressed Wushu player

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for Shiksha, a Haryana-based wushu player, who was forced to work as a farm labourer due to severe financial distress in times COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a release issued by the sports ministry, the 22-year-old athlete, who has won 24 gold medals at the state Wushu Championship, was sanctioned the money through the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund for Sportspersons.

Shiksha, who is also pursuing her BSc in sports science said she is grateful to the Sports Minister for his intervention.

"I don't have words to thank the Sports Minister for his noble gesture and sending across Rs 5 lakh at a time like this," she said.

"I am absolutely determined to get back to my training at the earliest and it's so good to see such a proactive minister who cares for the athletes. I promise everyone that within a year, I will win a gold medal for the country."

World Athletics sets new dates for postponed series due to Covid-19

World Athletics on Thursday approved new dates for the World U20 Championships Nairobi 2020 and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Minsk 2020.

The World U20 Championships will now be held from August 17 to 22 next year -- one week after the Tokyo Olympic Games. Under the competition's rules, athletes aged between 16-19 years as on 31 December 2021 will be eligible to compete.

The World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships have been rescheduled for 23-24 April 2022 in Minsk, Belarus. The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Yangzhou 2022 have also had a small date change, moving back one week, from 20 March 2022, to 27 March 2022.

World Athletics has also updated the Council on conversations with organisers of the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 2021 to explore alternative dates for the event.

This is due to ongoing travel and gathering restrictions resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures currently implemented within Australia to contain it. This includes the closure of Australia's international borders.

"The disruption caused by the global pandemic has made it more difficult to schedule international events over the next two years but we want to give as much certainty as we can to our athletes, Member Federations, host cities, and partners. We have done our best to choose dates that we believe are achievable and offer the best chance for our athletes and event hosts to shine on the international stage," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in an official statement.

The Board of the Local Organising Committee, World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 2021, the Athletics Australia board, and the New South Wales Government have reinforced their strong desire to host this World Championship and have asked World Athletics to postpone the event to a future date to be determined.

World Athletics will work closely with all stakeholders in Australia to explore the feasibility of other dates. At this time the event remains in the calendar for 20 March 2021.

National championships windows, 2021-2024 -- In an effort to assist long-term planning for the athletes and Member Federations and in line with the Global Calendar Hierarchy, the Global Calendar Unit has agreed on the following national championships protected windows from 2021-2024.

NBA records zero COVID-19 positive cases

The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Wednesday announced that of the 344 players tested for COVID-19, zero have returned confirmed positive tests.

"Of the 344 players tested for COVID-19 on the NBA campus since test results were last announced on July 20, zero have returned confirmed positive tests," NBA said in an official statement.

The 2019-20 NBA season will be resuming on Thursday, July 30 as the New Orleans Pelicans meet the Utah Jazz (4 am IST) and the Los Angeles Lakers face the LA Clippers.

NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on June 26 announced that they have finalised a "comprehensive plan" for a July 30 restart to the 2019-20 season.

The association had said that the comprehensive plan includes stringent health and safety protocols, a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and the goal of taking collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice.

"In addition, the NBA and Disney have reached an agreement that makes the Arena, the Field House, and Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex the venues for all games for the remainder of the season, which will resume with 22 teams returning to play and with no fans in attendance," the statement read.

The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight "seeding games," as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular-season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the eighth playoff seed in that conference.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Team 8) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference (Team 9), then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference.

The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9. The NBA's standard playoff tiebreaker procedures will be used to break any ties on the basis of the winning percentage.

Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round.

The 2020 NBA finals will end no later than October 13.

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