The second round of regional Olympic soccer qualifiers has been postponed even before the completion of the first round as Asian soccer spins into turmoil amid the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). \nThe Asian Football Confederation announced yesterday that five second-round Asian qualifying matches for the 2004 Athens Olympics had been postponed indefinitely. \nThe second round matches, also contested on a home-and-away basis, had been set down for May 3 and either June 6 or June 7. \nSouth Korea was due to meet the winner of the Hong Kong-Sri Lanka match, while Saudi Arabia was against the winner of the Taiwan-Singapore match and North Korea faced the winner of the Iraq-Vietnam encounter when the next round eventually gets underway. \nSecond-round matches between Thailand and the winner of the United Arab Emirates vs. Tajikistan match and China against the winner of the Syria vs. Pakistan match were also postponed. \nIn first-round matches going ahead, Syria is hosting Pakistan twice, on April 16 and April 19, and the UAE will host Tajikistan at Dubai on April 19 and travel to Dushanbe for the return leg on April 26. \n``In view of the severity of the SARS outbreak in the region, we have decided to postpone these five matches as the players, officials and fans health are of utmost importance to us,'' said AFC General Secretary Peter Velappan. \nSARS has reportedly killed 162 of the 3,000 people infected worldwide, mostly in Hong Kong and China, where the virus was believed to have originated. \n``FIFA and AFC will closely monitor the developments of the situation with the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) and inform the teams and everyone involved of the new dates in due time,'' added Velappan. \nEarlier this month, the AFC postponed three first-round Olympic qualifiers and shelved the 14-nation Asian qualifying tournament for the women's World Cup. The Asian championship was due to be held in Bangkok, Thailand starting this week. \nSoccer's regional authorities have scrapped an East Asian men's series involving China, Japan and South Korea, while FIFA, soccer's international governing body, postponed the draw for the Sept. 23 to Oct. 11 women's World Cup in China. \nThe draw was due to be held in Wuhan, China on May 24 but was delayed as a ``preventive measure in the interests of the health of those taking part,'' FIFA officials said. \nDespite speculation that the women's World Cup will be postponed or switched to another venue, FIFA and the Chinese FA have said they're confident the quadrennial tournament will go ahead as scheduled. \nMeanwhile, English Premier League clubs Everton and Aston Villa have abandoned plans to tour China and Hong Kong for exhibition matches next month. \nOlympic qualifiers have been hit hard in Asia. \nOther sports have abandoned major events in the region. The women's ice hockey World Cup was canceled four days before its scheduled April 3 opener in Beijing, while the International Rugby Board pulled its Sevens Series events in China and Singapore.
Taiwanese badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) yesterday beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in their women’s singles semi-final match to advance to today’s final at the Thailand Open. The top-seeded Tai overcame a 10-21 first-game loss to seventh seed and former world champion Ratchanok to dominate the final two games 21-13, 21-19 in 58 minutes of play at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. World No. 2 Tai is today to face world No. 4 Chen Yufei of China. Chen yesterday bested Pusarla Venkata Sindhu 21-17, 21-16 to secure her spot in the final of the Super 500 tournament. On Friday, Tai overpowered China’s He Bingjiao 21-10,
Politicians are meant to kiss babies, not crash into children, but on the campaign trail yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison barrelled into a young boy during a friendly kickaround, eliciting a chorus of stunned “ooohs” and “aaaws” from spectators. Morrison was playing five-a-side soccer in northern Tasmania, where he is trawling for votes ahead of Saturday’s election. At first, Morrison — shorn of his jacket, but still sporting a shirt and tie — sauntered around the field somewhat aimlessly, trying to get a toe on the ball here and there as it ping-ponged from boy to boy. However, then the 54-year-old stepped
Wimbledon, widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament, was on Friday stripped of ranking points by the sport’s main tours in a move that threatens to reduce the Grand Slam to the status of a high-profile exhibition event. The decision by the ATP and WTA was in response to Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of Ukraine. “It is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” an ATP statement said. “Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a
Faced with a machete, a fighter leaps and locks his legs around another man’s neck, bringing him crashing down to a cacophony of cheers. This is vovinam, Vietnam’s acrobatic martial art with roots dating back to the country’s struggle for independence, and it is showing at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for the first time since 2013. Proponents are trained to use not only their hands and legs to grapple a rival to the ground, but also fend off assailants armed with blades. Short for “Vo Viet Nam” (literally “Vietnamese martial arts”) it was inspired by nationalists who sought an end to the