Category Archives: Athletic

Rusty Barcelona held to goalless draw at Sevilla

Seville, Title-chasing Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw at Sevilla in an empty stadium on Friday as they dropped points in La Liga for the first time since the season re-started after the hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Catalans are top of the standings on 65 points from 30 games but second-placed Real Madrid, with 62, can go above their rivals if they beat Real Sociedad away on Sunday due to their superior head-to-head record. Sevilla are third on 52, Reuters reported.


Barca’s Lionel Messi went into the match on 699 career goals but failed to get his 700th for club and country, coming closest with a first-half free kick which was headed off the line.


Sergio Reguilon had a glorious chance to snatch a winner in added time when the ball fell into his path from close range but he hit it into the ground and Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen made a comfortable save for the reigning champions.


Barca striker Luis Suarez made his first start since returning from knee surgery in an attacking trio alongside Messi and Martin Braithwaite as Antoine Griezmann dropped to the bench and the Catalans freely moved the ball around in the first half.


Messi had two free-kick attempts while ex-Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic narrowly missed the target from inside the area.


There was tension just before halftime when Messi pushed Sevilla’s Diego Carlos to the ground after he had fouled Suarez and while the Argentine escaped without a booking for the incident, after which Sergio Busquets was shown a yellow card.


Sevilla re-grouped after the break and had the better chances, with Lucas Ocampos smashing a shot against Ter Stegen, who also thwarted former Barca forward Munir El Haddadi.


Suarez had the visitors’ best chance after the interval but failed to keep his stinging shot under the bar while Ter Stegen came up to contest a corner in added time, underlining Barca’s desperation to win the game and boost their title chances.


Source: Bahrain News Agency

QOC Continues to Hold Virtual Sports Activities

Doha, The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) holds virtual sports activities and various events through its social media platforms, as it will organize various programs over four weeks.


Each week, a different virtual competition will be held in addition to an activity (sporting or social) that contributes to linking the followers locally and globally with QOC’s social media accounts. Also, the training session providedby Qatar’s stars in various sports from home to maintain fitness during the home quarantine.


QOC’s social media accounts are concerned with motivating the public and followers to share their sports activities from home to maintain fitness through short video clips.


Virtual competitions will be held in cycling and running for a distance of 5 and 10 km and online games (FIFA) in addition to the age-group competitions for children in running, arts, drawing, and yoga.


A total of USD30,000 in cash prizes were allocated to the participants in all activities and races in addition to the in-kind prizes.


The QOC aims, through the organizing of these virtual events and sporting activities, to encourage the public and the followers to practice sporting activities at home, follow the quarantine policy, commit to avoiding social gatheringsduring this period, and maintain physical and psychological health, through individual sport.


Source: Qatar Olympic Committee

Qatar announces completion of Education City Stadium

Doha, The State of Qatar announced Monday the completion of Education City stadium, the 3rd tournament venue for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, in a digital coverage on the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) official social media accounts. HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani gave a speech to mark the occasion.


The celebrations confirm that the SC is committed to its timeline despite current conditions and the precautionary measures taken in the State of Qatar. Located in the heart of Education City Qatars education, research and innovation hub the 40,000-capacity Education City Stadium is slated to host matches up to the quarter-finals stage during the tournament.


The completion of Education City Stadium is yet another milestone as we inch ever closer to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world,:” FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Chairman and Secretary-General of the SC Hassan Al Thawadi said.


“Launching the stadium now while the world is overcoming the coronavirus pandemic shows everyone that there is light at the end of the tunnel and brighter days ahead. We are proud to pay tribute to the frontline workers who remain at the forefront in the battle against COVID-19 and look forward to bringing the world together at this stadium and others using the unifying power of football in 2022,” he added.


CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC Nasser Al Khater said that “the atmosphere will be electric at Education City Stadium when it hosts matches during the World Cup. This is a football lovers stadium and one we are certain fans from around the world will enjoy during Qatar 2022.”


“Providing unique experiences for fans and players alike in 2022 is central to our planning, and we will stage several events across various venues in the lead-up to the tournament to test our readiness and refine our plans to guarantee that everyone visiting Qatar in 2022 has an exceptional time,” Al Khater added.


Chairman of the SCs Operations Office and Vice-Chairman of the Technical Delivery Office Yasir Al Jamal said: “we are very proud to announce the completion of our third tournament-ready stadium, following the successful redevelopment of Khalifa International Stadium in 2017 and the inauguration of Al Janoub Stadium last year.”


“All of our projects remain on track and, as we celebrate this milestone today, we also look forward to marking many more between now and the big kick-off on 21 November 2022, including the completion of two more stadiums before the end of this year the 40,000-capacity Al Rayyan Stadium and the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium,” he added.


President of Community Development at Qatar Foundation Machaille Hassan Al Naimi said: “Education City Stadium will be a focal point for the world of football in 2022, and for the people of Qatar for many decades to come after the tournament.”


“The legacy of this magnificent venue, standing at the centre of our Qatar Foundation community, will be reflected by its continuing role as a hub of sporting activity, inspiring people to embrace healthy lifestyles; as a space for education and the acquisition of knowledge; and as a destination for people to gather and interact. In its design, message and purpose, Education City Stadium is a true standard-bearer for sustainability,” she added.


FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a speech to mark the occasion and thanked for HH the Amir for providing him with the opportunity to participate. He also paid tribute to “those who suffered, fought and are still fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic and giving us a remarkable example of resilience during such a difficult moment.”


In addition to the coverage on the SCs social media platforms, Education City Stadiums completion was marked by special coverage on beIN SPORTS, Al Kass TV, Al Rayyan TV and Qatar TV. (QNA)​


Source: Qatar Olympic Committee

Ronaldo misses penalty as Juve squeeze into final with Milan draw

Turin, Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty as Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man AC Milan on Friday but the Turin side still squeezed into the Coppa Italia final as the season restarted following a three-month stoppage for the novel coronavirus.


Juve qualified for Wednesday’s final on away goals following their 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semi-final, played on Feb. 13, and face Napoli or Inter Milan who meet today, Reuters reported.


The two key moments happened within six seconds of each other early in the match played behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium.


Juventus were awarded a penalty in the 16th minute after the VAR officials spotted the ball hitting Andrea Conti’s elbow but Ronaldo, whose late penalty in the first leg turned out to be decisive, slammed his effort against the foot of the post.


It was the second penalty missed by the 35-year-old in two seasons at the club.


Milan cleared the ball upfield but, as they did so, forward Ante Rebic aimed a wild kick at Danilo and was sent off, forcing the visitors to play for more than 70 minutes with 10 men.


Milan, missing veteran forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a calf injury, held out well but rarely threatened to snatch the goal that would have taken them into the final.


They caused Juve only one real fright when Hakan Calhanoglu was close with a diving header early in the second half.


“The emotions are strange,” said Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci. “After 90 days, we were playing again in an empty stadium and it was strange at the start.”


Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri did not give a post-match interview while his counterpart Stefano Poli was left to reflect on the goal they conceded at home and Rebic’s red card.


“We committed the naive act of ending up with a man less. Then afterwards we had a great game and then we had chances to go ahead,” he said.


“The results are clear, two draws. The difference was subtle. I don’t think we played worse than our opponents in the two games.”


Source: Bahrain News Agency

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani LISTENTOME wins Prix Paul Dugas

Owned and bred by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, LISTENTOME (FR) was running for the first time when she won the Prix Paul Dugas at Lyon-Parilly, France on Thursday. A natural stayer, this filly secured a first victory in promising style under the hands of jockey Ronan Thomas.

LISTENTOME raced mid-division on the outside of the field and showed an impressive turn of foot in the straight to win this 2,400m race for three-year-old maidens. Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, she was running under 55kgs compared to the 51,5kgs carried by the second, the regally bred BEAUTIFUL TIMING (GB). The runner-up, trained by H A Pantall and ridden by Luka Rousseau, who was half a length behind the winner.

LISTENTOME is a daughter of the greatest sire of our time, Galileo. Her dam, LONGINA, was third in the German Oaks (Gr1). This magnificent Gestüt Hof Ittlingen family previously produced Gr1 horses, including the champion LANDO and two other German Derby winners; namely LAROCHE and LACCARIO.


Source: Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club

Al Shaqab Racing’s PERHAPS wins Prix De La Prairie

PERHAPS (Lope de Vega) made easy work of her maiden scoring the Prix De La Prairie at Vichy, France, for her owner Al Shaqab Racing on Wednesday, 27 May. She had debuted a fortnight previously at Saint-Cloud when finishing last of 16 runners. She had run quite free that day and was very green in the straight when asked to accelerate. However, the lesson seems to have been learned and there was no doubt about it this time. Wearing a bonnet this afternoon, she comported herself professionally.

Initially, jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot went to settle her behind the leaders in the early stages, but she was unsettled by the slow pace. After they had run less than 400m, he let her go up to take the lead. Once in front, she settled well with a good action. Boudot sat quietly in the long straight and it was not until he was in the final 500m that he began to give her some encouragement. She simply stretched her legs and, without ever being touched by the whip, she pulled easily clear of her rivals. PERHAPS won the mile race for three-year-old maiden fillies by a length. It was a stylish display for this Francis Graffard trained bay filly. The A. Marcialis-trained ANOBAR (Anodin) who gave chase, but was never a danger, finished second under Tony Piccone. The S. Jesus-trained PRINCESSE ILIA (Charm Spirit) was further three and a half lengths behind in third under Eddy Hardouin.

‘I wanted to hold her up’, said Pierre-Charles Boudot, ‘but as there wasn’t much pace. I let her go to the front. She has a big action and I wanted her to be able to relax and use it to her full advantage. She accelerated well in the straight and won easily. Even though she made a mess on her debut, she works well in the mornings and should be able to step up in category.’

PERHAPS was bought as a yearling by Al Shaqab Racing from the Haras de Mézeray. She is out REPRINT, a sister to SASPARELLA, a Group 3 winner at 2. Her third dam is Wertheimer & Frère’s blue hen OCCUPADISTE, who is the dam of MODALISTE, IMPRESSIONNANTE – the dam of INTELLO -, ONLY ANSWER and many others.


Source: Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club

In race for tourism, Greece reopens cafes, island ferries

Athens, Greece restarted regular ferry services to its islands Monday, and cafes and restaurants were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.


Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access, The Associated Press (AP) reported.


But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — are grappling with deadlier outbreaks.


At Bairaktaris restaurant on central Monastiraki Square in Athens, waiters and staff wearing purple face masks and some with plastic visors, sliced meat from the revolving gyros grill, arranged flowers on widely spaced tables and waited for customers, who remained cautious Monday.


Spiros Bairaktaris, the exuberant owner, is carrying on a family business running for 140 years and has framed pictures on the wall of himself sitting next to supermodel Naomi Campbell, singer Cesaria Evora, and other past celebrity customers. He says he’s optimistic about the season despite the slow start.


“This has never happened before,” he told the AP. “We normally sit 100 in the inside area, now it’ll be just 30. … There won’t be any bouzouki music or dancing until we get the all-clear from the doctors.


“But I think people from all over Europe will come here because we have a low death toll, thank God.”


Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Italy has seen nearly 33,000 coronavirus patients die, Spain has had nearly 29,000 dead and Turkey has had 4,340 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections.


State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete.


Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country’s GDP as Greece struggles to emerge from years of financial crisis. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to government data.


With a view of the Acropolis and padded lounge seating, it’s usually hard for cafe goers to find a spot at Kayak, but midday Monday it was still largely empty.


“Eighty percent of our business is from tourism, and people in Greece are cautious, they fear they will lose their job,” owner Liza Meneretzi said. “I’ve been running the cafe for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. But I was born an optimist, so we’ll see how things go.”


Source: Bahrain News Agency

Basketball’s EuroLeague cancels season because of virus

Berlin, Europe’s top basketball league canceled the remainder of its season Monday because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying health concerns had to be paramount despite numerous attempts to find ways to resume play.


The EuroLeague, which is composed of 18 teams across 10 European nations, had been suspended since March 12. League officials said they “explored every possible option” in trying to find a way to resume the season, The Associated Press (AP) reported.


“Without a doubt, this is the most difficult decision we have had to take in our 20-year history,” Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu said. “Due to reasons beyond our control, we have been forced to cut short the most successful and exciting season in European basketball history.”


The news came only two days after the NBA announced it, along with the National Basketball Players Association, has entered discussions with The Walt Disney Company on a single-site scenario for a resumption of play in Central Florida in late July.


Sports calendars around the globe have been ravaged since March because of the pandemic, with about 5.5 million people worldwide having been confirmed to have the coronavirus — and roughly 350,000 of those dying because of it, according to data culled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.


The EuroLeague is generally considered the second-best basketball league in the world behind the NBA. Former University of Miami star Shane Larkin was the top scorer in the league this season, averaging 22.2 points per game for the Istanbul-based club Anadolu Efes.


Larkin made clear in an Instagram post over the weekend that he didn’t feel it was prudent for the EuroLeague season to continue.


“It is no secret that since postponing the season players haven’t had the ability to remain in top level shape,” Larkin wrote. “On top of the risk factor of possibly contracting the virus, the possibility of injuries are extremely high.


“Every team deserves and equal opportunity to win the EuroLeague but because of this pandemic many teams and players don’t have the chance to be as prepared as others,” he added. “I don’t think the EuroLeague champions should be decided by who has the ability to train and who doesn’t.”


Larkin’s team led the league with a 24-4 record this season but will not be recognized as champions, with that trophy simply not being awarded this season.


The EuroLeague, which is basketball’s equivalent of a Champions League in soccer with the top teams from various nations qualifying to take part, is planning to have all 18 teams from this season in the league again next season. Plans call for longer-than-usual training camps later this year “to allow players to recover their physical and mental shape in time for the new season,” the league said.


EuroLeague officials plan to start the 2020-21 season on Oct. 1.


“All the league’s stakeholders maintained their determination and exhausted every possible avenue in trying to deliver a complete and uniquely special season to our fans, whose passion is the driving force for all our efforts,” Bertomeu said. “That is our commitment and our passion every single season, and so falling short due to forces beyond anyone’s control is what saddens us most.”


Source: Bahrain News Agency