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Latvia Wants New Co-host for 2021 IIHF championship — Federation Focus



(ATR) The government of Latvia still wants to co-host the 2021 IIHF World Championship but not with Belarus.

Belarus protests began after the Aug. 9 presidential election. (Wikipedia)

In a letter to the International Ice Hockey Federation, Latvia requested that another country step in and co-host due to the ongoing political unrest in Belarus, TASS reports.

The letter also said that Latvia would pull out of co-hosting if the situation continues and the IIHF “does not take the respective decisions” in removing Belarus as a co-host.

Last month, Latvian prime minister Krisjanis Karins warned that the country could consider withdrawing from co-hosting the tournament.

The IIHF is expected to address the situation at its next council meeting on Sept. 17. IIHF president Rene Fasel has said that the federation is monitoring the situation but there are no plans to move the tournament at this time.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin at the 2019 European Games opening ceremony in Minsk. (Belarus NOC)

The protests in Belarus have continued since the disputed August 9 presidential election, where Alexander Lukashenko supposedly won re-election with 80 percent of the vote.

The European Union is among those to have condemned the election, stating it was “neither free nor fair”. The EU is reportedly planning to impose sanctions on the country.

Lukashenko has been in power in Belarus for 26 years and is considered Europe’s last dictator. He told Russian media on Tuesday that he would not step down.

The 2021 IIHF World Championship is scheduled for May 21 – June 6 with Riga, Latvia and Minsk, Belarus each hosting one group and two quarterfinal games. Minsk Arena, the same venue used when Minsk had the 2014 edition, is scheduled to host the semifinals and medal matches.

IF Gender Equality Webinar Series Opens

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 5th IF Gender Equality Forum but a series of online sessions has taken its place.

The IF Gender Equality Webinar Series opened on Tuesday with the first two of six scheduled sessions.

Like the Forum, the webinars are being hosted by the IOC in collaboration with the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF).

Marisol Casado (ITU)

The IOC says the first two sessions were attended virtually by about 200 people, including IF presidents, executive board members, secretaries general, chief executives, committee members and development managers.

Tuesday’s sessions were intended to increase female representation in governing bodies and improve women’s representation in decision-making positions.

Marisol Casado, IOC Member and Chair of the ASOIF Diversity and Gender Equality Group, opened the webinar by saying: “Today there is a wide-ranging call for greater inclusivity and equality, and we must take the opportunity this current crisis provides to rebuild and innovate our progress towards a more inclusive, gender-equal and sustainable Olympic Movement.”

Future webinars will cover topics including leadership of coaches and technical officials, safeguarding, and removing gender bias from all aspects of portrayal.

Three Years Until Rugby World Cup 2023

New logo for Rugby World Cup 2023 (World Rugby)

France marked the three years to go mark until the Rugby World Cup 2023 with the launch of the “We Love 2023 Tour” and a new brand identity.

The tour will visit 24 cities across France from Sept. 8 to Oct. 12 in a “uniquely branded train”.

The France 2023 organizing committee says the flagship tournament will be the most socially responsible and sustainable rugby event ever.

“France 2023 has embraced a vision: to have a positive impact for rugby, the planet and France by delivering a responsible event that addresses the challenges of today and tomorrow,” France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher said at the launch. “Rugby World Cup 2023 will be more than a sporting event. It will leave a legacy.”

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said “we are confident that France 2023 will deliver on its pledges.

“There is much to look forward to. I have never seen a nation so well prepared as France with three years to go until a Rugby World Cup.”

Homepage photo: IIHF

Written by Gerard Farek

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Summerside rugby player working toward World Cup, despite COVID




Canadians who rely on Line 5 on edge as Michigan’s deadline looms to shut Enbridge pipeline

Canadian workers and others who benefit from Enbridge’s Line 5 are anxiously watching what’s playing out this week in Michigan, which has given the Calgary-based company until Wednesday to shut down the pipeline. While backed by Indigenous groups, decommissioning the pipeline would cut off a major source of fuel for Ontario and Quebec. For its part, Enbridge insisted to CBC News on Wednesday that it won’t halt operations unless forced by a court to do so. That’s little comfort to people in the border city of Sarnia in southwestern Ontario. “You want to provide for your family and give them everything they could possibly want or need in life, and this does put that in jeopardy,” said steam fitter James Williamson. “[It] is something that does make you a little uneasy and I think everybody in the community is feeling that right now.” The pipeline carries some 540,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil and other petroleum products per day across Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, and accounts for nearly half of the supply of light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids in Ontario and Quebec. The Line 5 pipeline carries Canadian petroleum from Western Canada and Wisconsin, though Michigan to Sarnia, Ont.(CBC) The U.S.-Canada clash stems from an objection by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan to a specific part of the 65-year-old pipeline, which runs across the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, just south of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., that link Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Governor calls Line 5 ‘ticking time bomb’ In a move applauded by environmentalists and Indigenous groups in both Canada and the U.S., in November, Michigan revoked an easement granted from 1953 that’s allowed Enbridge to run the pipeline across the straits. Whitmer also ordered the company to shut down the nearly 70-year-old pipeline by May 12, 2021, saying “the devastating economic, environmental and health impacts of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great lakes” can’t be risked. She referred to the pipeline as “a ticking time bomb”. If you just drive by any business in town and look out the window, you can expect it to disappear if Line 5 does. – Scott Archer, UA Local 663 representing Sarnia pipefitters and plumbers Enbridge, which maintains the pipeline is safe, launched a lawsuit in a U.S. federal district court shortly after the governor’s order, and is still in mediation with the government. In a statement Wednesday to CBC, the company reiterated it won’t stop operating the pipeline unless ordered to do so by a court or regulator, “which we view as highly unlikely.” James Williamson, a steam fitter in Sarnia, says he and others would likely leave the city if the pipeline’s work stops.(Jacob Barker/CBC) For his part, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley feels confident the pipeline won’t shut down. “There may be some political histrionics that day from Michigan and the governor, but I believe that with discussions underway about mediation and other possible actions that may take place, I don’t believe the line will shut down.” Last week, Enbridge’s senior vice-president, Mike Fernandez, told the CBC that Michigan’s deadline is more likely to prompt protests than state action. Scott Archer, of UA Local 663, the union that represents 1,600 plumbers and pipefitters in Sarnia, has hopes a decision on the pipeline goes in “a rational direction” instead of being led by emotion. “I understand people’s good intentions, but many of these people need to do a little deeper dive into the information and see that the alternative to this is disastrous.” Scott Archer, union rep with UA Local 663 representing pipefitters and plumbers in Sarnia, Ont., says thousands of workers rely on the pipeline both directly and indirectly for employment.(Jacob Barker/CBC) Archer said thousands of jobs in Sarnia, both directly and indirectly connected to the pipeline, would be affected by a shutdown. “They’re not going to be ordering pizzas, they’re not going to be buying new shoes, they’re not going to be investing in real estate,” he said about people in the city of about 71,000. It’s amazing that you can have the federal government of Canada who is committed to climate action, yet they seem to be the biggest proponent and the biggest advocate for pipeline, for oil and gas pipelines. – Bean Deleary, Anishinaabe educator, Walpole Island First Nation “If you just drive by any business in town and look out the window, you can expect it to disappear if Line 5 does,” said Archer. Williamson, who was born and raised in Sarnia, said halting the pipeline would turn the border city into a retirement community and families would leave, and even he would consider that. “It’s about providing for your kids and the sacrifices you have to make to ensure that they get the best shake at life.” Indigenous disappointment In March, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said operation of the pipeline is non-negotiable, and the government would do whatever it takes to keep it running. In the House last week, he reiterated his support for Line 5, saying it would take 800 rail cars and 2,000 trucks in Canada alone to move an equivalent amount of petroleum products in a day. Indigenous and environmental groups, however, have severely criticized the Canadian government for supporting Line 5. Danny Deleary, an Anishinaabe educator and activist who lives on Ontario’s Walpole Island First Nation, has been critical of the Canadian government’s support of Line 5.(Colin Butler/CBC News) “It’s amazing that you can have the federal government of Canada who is committed to climate action, yet they seem to be the biggest proponent and the biggest advocate for pipeline, for oil and gas pipelines,” said Bean Deleary, an Anishinaabe educator and activist who lives on Canada’s Walpole Island First Nation, on the Ontario-Michigan border. “Water is essential and clean water is essential to life, and why we would risk the largest sources of fresh water in the world? Why would we potentially risk that in the name of profit?” Push for energy alternatives Dean Sayers, the chief of Ontario’s Batchewana First Nation, which is near the Straits of Mackinac, also sides with Whitmer. “What happens at the Mackinac straits will have an effect on all of the people that live in that watershed downstream from there, so it’s really important for all my relatives around the Great Lakes that we have access to that really pristine Great Lakes water,” said Sayers. “I think it’s important for us to maybe find alternative ways to look after our energy needs, and I’m not so sure fossil fuels are the way to go.” Dean Sayers, chief of Batchewana First Nation, near the Straits of Mackinac, believes it’s important ‘to find alternative ways to look after our energy needs, and I’m not so sure fossil fuels are the way to go.’ (Erik White/CBC ) Some have suggested that Canada will look to a treaty it signed with the U.S. in the 1970s that seems to guarantee the uninterrupted transit of hydrocarbons across the border. Glen Hare, grand chief of the Anishinabek Nation Council, which advocates for First Nations across Ontario, last week accused the government of picking and choosing which treaties to uphold based on convenience and profit. “The government of Canada is not upholding the treaties made with the First Nations, but will uphold the 1977 treaty for pipelines,” he said in a statement.

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NZ to host Tonga vs Samoa in Rugby World Cup qualifier



‘Atieli Pakalani scores for Tonga against Manu Samoa, Teufaiva Stadium, 1 July 2017.

New Zealand will host the Tonga vs Samoa Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier over two legs in July, confirmed World Rugby on 10 May.

The first leg will be played on 10 July, and the second on 17 July, however a venue has yet to be confirmed.

This is part of World Rugby’s revised program of men’s test matches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Rugby said 25 of the top 30 ranked unions are to play tests in the July window.

New Zealand will also host tests against Fiji, while world champions South Africa hosts Japan, and the UK and Ireland will also host a number of nations. Qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2023 will also be played in Europe, and Africa and South America.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said this has taken a monumental effort from all concerned.

“While there is light at the end of the tunnel in respect to COVID-19 in many nations, the challenges continue to be present, dynamic and impactful and therefore I would like to thank the unions, their respective governments, broadcast and commercial partners and players for their flexibility and full commitment to the process.”

“Fans around the world can now look forward to an exciting bumper schedule of men’s test matches involving at least 25 teams, which will be a welcome sight for everyone. The road to Rugby World Cup 2023 also continues with key qualifiers for Samoa and Tonga and, of course, we are anticipating a fascinating British and Irish Lions series.”

World Rugby and unions will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and respond if necessary, while any revisions to the November international programme will be confirmed in due course.

World Rugby will also maintain its high-performance support for emerging nations ahead of the July tests.

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Hotchpotch Rainbow Cup needs clarity; Burnley relegate Fulham



We begin with rugby this morning and Tadhg Furlong’s new one-year deal with the IRFU. The Union would undoubtedly have been keen to secure the services of the tighhead until the 2023 Rugby World Cup but, as Gerry Thornley reports this morning, “that Furlong, after nigh on five months of negotiations, ultimately decided on a one-year extension long after the other new central contracts were completed suggests the discussions were not the smoothest,” while Leinster coach Felipe Contepomi yesterday said a one-year extension was at least “better than none”. Moving on and Gerry Thornley writes in his column this morning that, even two rounds into the hotchpotch Rainbow Cup, it seems that no one quite knows what form it will take but it may well prove to be a pot of gold for Munster. Meanwhile, Bill Corcoran reports from Cape Town that the South African government is under pressure to allow fans attend the Lions series despite a worsening Covid-19 situation.

On to soccer and a new documentary on the playing and managerial career of Alex Ferguson – as well as his recovery from a life-threatening stroke – is set to be released soon. Speaking to Donald McRae, the former Manchester United manager went into detail on the loneliness and fear he experienced after undergoing surgery. Last night Fulham were condemned to relegation just one season after promotion as Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood struck for Burnley to secure their top-flight status.

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