Weaving around icy boulders and scrambling to avoid sliding down the snow-covered mountainside, Bolivian President Evo Morales and his staff played a soccer match on Bolivia's highest peak on Tuesday, gleefully thumbing their noses at FIFA's ban on high-altitude games.
"Wherever you can make love, you can play sports," said Morales, who was winded but smiling after scoring the winning goal against a team of local mountaineers.
The match on the uneven field 6,000m high in the Andes lasted only about 15 minutes, including the time spent recovering the ball after it skittered away down the slope.
Citing concerns for players' health and an unfair home advantage for highland teams, FIFA decided last month to prohibit international tournaments and World Cup qualifying matches above 2,500m. That rules out the capitals of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and the stadiums of leading teams in Peru, Chile and Mexico.
The decision has given Morales a chance to rally Bolivia around his twin passions of soccer and South American unity while showing his knack for political stagecraft.
Morales and the other players flew by helicopter up to a rocky saddle below the peak of Sajama, a dormant Andean volcano that rises to 6,542m above sea level.
Experts in high-altitude medicine acknowledge that highland teams have a distinct edge over visitors, but dismissed any serious health risks.
Travelers often feel dizzy and exhuasted on arrival in La Paz, the world's highest capital, and "the last think you think of is, `Let's go sprint for 90 minutes,'" said Robert Roach, head of the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado. "You feel bad. But that's just because of the hard work, it's not because there's anything dangerous to it."
Uncertainty grips next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Games: Will there be fans or empty stadiums in 14 months? How will thousands of athletes, staff members and technical officials travel, be housed and stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic? And the Tokyo Games are not the only event. China, where COVID-19 was first detected, is to hold three mega-sports events in the year after the Tokyo Olympics are set to close. The World University Games in Chengdu, China, are to open, with up to 8,000 athletes, only 10 days after the Tokyo Games close. Next come the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Feb. 4, 2022,
When South Korea’s domestic women’s golf tour held its premier event last week — without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic — no fewer than three of the world’s top 10 players took part. The country of 52 million people has a disproportionate share of the women’s world golf rankings, providing eight of the current top 20. In a demonstration of their prominence, South Korean women have won at least one major every season since 2010, with coronavirus cancellations perhaps the biggest threat to their run this year. The phenomenon, players and commentators have said, results from driven parents, intense training, a highly
The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas’ burgeoning career, but he remains philosophical about the tennis shutdown. The world No. 6 would have been preparing for the French Open that was originally scheduled to start this weekend, but was postponed to September. While he is missing life on the ATP Tour, Tsitsipas believes that the lockdown has given the planet a breather. “I actually think they should put us in lockdown once a year — it’s good for nature, it’s good for our planet,” Tsitsipas said in an Instagram Live conversation for At Home With Babsi on Eurosport’s Instagram page. “I
PANDEMIC HYGIENE: Players had their temperatures checked, carried their own equipment and towels, and tapped rackets to congratulate the match winners Alison Riske and Danielle Collins of the US and Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic were among the winners on Friday, the opening day of a women’s tennis mini-tournament in Florida that offered professional players an opportunity to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The WTA women’s tennis tour canceled four more events this week and is not to resume until at least July 20. However, four women ranked in the top 60 in the world turned out for the UTR Pro Match Series event in Palm Beach, which followed a similar event for men two weeks ago. World No. 51 Collins toppled 28th-ranked compatriot Amanda Anisimova