Conference postpones

Conference postpones all sport competitions through end of calendar year | Pac-12 –

SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 CEO Group voted unanimously to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.

The decision was made after consultation with athletics directors and with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee who expressed concern with moving forward with contact practice.  The report and updated guidelines of the Committee can be found here: Pac-12 COVID-19 Return to Play Considerations – Aug. 10, 2020 and a full list of Committee members can be found here: Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee. The Conference also announced that when conditions improve, it would consider a return to competition for impacted sports after January 1, 2021.

Student-athletes impacted by the postponement will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed.  Additionally, the Pac-12 Conference strongly encourages that the NCAA grant students who opt out of competition this academic year an additional year of eligibility.  As part of their guaranteed scholarships, they will continue to have university support, including academic advising and tutoring, among other support services.

“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”

“The health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports has been our number one priority since the start of this current crisis,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.  “Our student-athletes, fans, staff and all those who love college sports would like to have seen the season played this calendar year as originally planned, and we know how disappointing this is.”

Scott noted that while the Conference’s detailed plan to keep student-athletes safe was working in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee guidelines and state and local government orders, the situation was becoming more challenging: “Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble,” he said. “Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant.  We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year.”

“We know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, and our hearts go out to them and their families,” added Scott.  “We have made clear that all of their scholarships will be guaranteed, and that as a Conference we are strongly encouraging the NCAA to grant them an additional year of eligibility.”

About the Pac-12 Conference

The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 54 of the last 60 years, with 529 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities – the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University. For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to​

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Concern postpones

Concern as Hong Kong postpones elections for a year, citing Covid-19 – The Guardian

The Hong Kong government has postponed its upcoming elections for one year, citing the growing coronavirus outbreak in the territory but sparking immediate accusations that the pandemic was being used as a pretext to suppress democracy.

The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced on Friday she had invoked colonial-era emergency regulations to delay the 6 September vote to 5 September 2021, saying it was the “hardest decision I have made in the past seven months”, but had the full support of the Chinese central government.

Hong Kong is experiencing its worst outbreak of the pandemic, with more than 100 daily new cases – mostly community transmissions – and hospital Covid-19 wards at about 80% capacity. Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said part of the government’s response to the virus was “a willingness to make hard choices”.

“The Legco election is held once every four years and it’s a really tough decision to delay it but we want to ensure public safety and health, and we want to make sure the elections are held in an open fair and impartial manner,” Lam said of the legislative council vote.

While having largely kept the virus under control after it first reached Hong Kong in January, the government has been criticised for fumbling numerous aspects of its response, particularly in this so-called third wave. However, the current outbreak appears to be waning and, when asked why then the election was being postponed, Lam pointed to the rising numbers in the rest of the world.

Lam said she and her colleagues had consulted with the World Health Organization on the decision, and she delivered a statistics-heavy list of the risks in having millions of voters and polling staff gathering on one day. She also said many residents were stranded outside Hong Kong amid border closures and argued that

Hong Kong lacked the capability for electronic or postal voting.

Lam also dismissed comparisons with other countries that have held elections amid worse outbreaks. She said only 49 countries or areas had gone ahead with their votes during the pandemic, while 68 had to delay, giving as an example an Australian local council election.

“So you can say there are more places or countries delaying their elections than proceeding as scheduled.”

When the government’s plans to postpone the election were leaked earlier this week, amid growing Beijing control over the semi-autonomous region, and coming a day after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running, it was immediately labelled an “assault on fundamental freedoms”.

In an increasingly defensive tone, Lam told the press conference there was “definitely no political consideration” to the decision, which “had nothing to do with the likely outcome of this round of elections”, referring to speculation that pro-democracy parties would win a majority.

Conceding it was unconstitutional to allow the current legislative council to sit for longer than its four-year term, Lam said she had approached Beijing for help and the National People’s Congress standing committee would make a legal declaration to solve the problem.

In a statement, the central government confirmed the standing committee would also decide on the fate of incumbent pro-democracy legislators who were disqualified from running again in the now postponed election. Lam said she thought they should continue in their seats.

The postponement has sparked fury from opposition and pro-democracy groups.

“Postponing the September elections for a year is a cynical move to contain a political emergency, not a public health one,” said Sophie Richardson of the charity Human Rights Watch.

“This simply allows Carrie Lam to deny Hong Kong people their right to choose their government. Without making any attempt to look at alternative methods of voting, or ensuring all voting rights will be respected, Lam and her backers in Beijing are merely masking repression under the guise of public health.”

On Friday afternoon, a coalition of pro-democracy legislators accused the government of using the pandemic to delay an election they were looking like losing. The group said they represented 60% of the population and “collectively and sternly oppose a postponement”.

“We stress that the government has the responsibility to arrange anti-epidemic measures to the full extent of its ability so the September poll can be held as scheduled. Otherwise, it’s tantamount to uprooting the entire basis of the SAR.”

Earlier this week, Hong Kong Watch, a pro-democracy group, released comparative data on Hong Kong’s outbreak and that of other countries which have held elections during the pandemic.

Hong Kong is reporting between 100 and 150 cases a day, having recorded 2,779 in total. Singapore recorded 451 new cases on the day of its election earlier this month, with a total of 38,965.

“If the Hong Kong government decide to postpone the election by a year, then it is not only totally unnecessary, but an assault on fundamental freedoms,” said Johnny Patterson, the director of Hong Kong Watch.

“Other governments have shown that Hong Kong government do not need to cancel the elections for a year to guard against the public health threat. This decision to consider postponing legislative council elections for a year is driven by fear of an opposition pro-democracy majority, and by fears that attempts to disqualify and arrest pro-democracy candidates under the national security law will be met by further sanctions from the international community.”

The postponement is the latest event in Hong Kong’s apparent declining democracy.

On 30 June, sweeping national security laws came into force, imposed by Beijing outside of Hong Kong’s legislature and with at least 10 people arrested at protests on the first day. Schools, libraries and booksellers have been told to remove books that might breach the new laws, and democratic parties holding pre-election primaries were accused of attempting to rig the election.

This week, Hong Kong University legal scholar Benny Tai was sacked by the university council, and four students, aged between 16 and 21 and members of a pro-independence group that disbanded its local branch on the eve of the laws, were arrested. Police said they were arrested on suspicion of organising and inciting secession through comments made on social media posts after the law came in.

On Thursday, 12 opposition figures, including incumbent legislators, veteran politicians, and high-profile activist Joshua Wong, were disqualified from running in the September polls.

The electoral office ruled entries invalid on the basis that some had previously called for foreign governments to sanction Beijing and Hong Kong, and this breached the national security law, or had pledged to block government bills if they won a majority.

“Our resistance will continue on and we hope the world can stand with us in the upcoming uphill battle,” 23-year-old Wong told reporters on Friday. “Beyond any doubt (this) is the most scandalous election fraud era in Hong Kong history.”

Asked if he feared for his own safety, Wong instead called for the release of the four students. “I urge the world to put the global spotlight on the other activists arrested and being detained,” he said, adding he feared they could be extradited to China.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong said on Thursday the disqualifications were “an outrageous political purge of Hong Kong’s democrats”.

“The national security law is being used to disenfranchise the majority of Hong Kong’s citizens. It is obviously now illegal to believe in democracy, although this was what Beijing promised in and after the joint declaration. This is the sort of behaviour that you would expect in a police state.”

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postpones Trump

Trump postpones G7 meeting and seeks to expand membership – New York Post

May 31, 2020 | 12:10am

AIR FORCE ONE — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he will postpone until the fall a meeting of Group of 7 nations he had planned to hold next month at the White House despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And he said he plans to invite Russia, Australia, South Korea and India as he again advocated for the group’s expansion.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned to Washington from Florida that he feels the current makeup of the group is “very outdated” and doesn’t properly represent “what’s going on in the world.”

He said he had not yet set a new date for the meeting, but thought the gathering could take place in September, around the time of the annual meeting of the United Nations in New York, or perhaps after the U.S. election in November.

Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, said that Trump wanted to bring in some of the country’s traditional allies and those impacted by the coronavirus to discuss the future of China.

The surprise announcement came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said Saturday that she would not attend the meeting unless the course of the coronavirus spread had changed by then.

The leaders of the world’s major economies were slated to meet in June in the U.S. at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but the coronavirus outbreak hobbled those plans. Trump announced in March he was canceling the summit because of the pandemic and that the leaders would confer by video conference instead. But Trump then switched course, saying a week ago that he was again planning to host an in-person meeting.

“Now that our Country is ‘Transitioning back to Greatness’, I am considering rescheduling the G-7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, D.C., at the legendary Camp David,” Trump tweeted. “The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!”

The G7 members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group’s presidency rotates annually among member countries.

Trump has repeatedly advocated for expanding the group to include Russia, prompting opposition from some members, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, who told reporters he had privately aired his objection to Russian readmittance.

“Russia has yet to change the behavior that led to its expulsion in 2014, and therefore should not be allowed back into the G7,” he said at a news conference.

The House also passed a bipartisan resolution in December 2019 that supports Russia’s previous expulsion from the annual gathering.

Russia had been invited to attend the gathering of the world’s most advanced economies since 1997 but was suspended in 2014 following its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

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postpones Xfinity

Rain postpones Xfinity Series’ return at Darlington Raceway – NASCAR

Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Rainy weather led to the postponement of Tuesday night’s race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway.

The Toyota 200 was scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET start, a time moved up Monday by two hours because of the threat of inclement weather. Persistent rain forced the 147-lap event to move to Thursday at noon ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).

RELATED: Starting lineup | Recapping the 2020 Xfinity races | Xfinity preview

The race is the Xfinity Series’ first event since March 7. All of the circuit’s races since mid-March were placed on hold by the outbreak of COVID-19. The Darlington event and subsequent races in May and June are scheduled to be held without fans in attendance and without practice or qualifying.

NASCAR officials had 10 Air Titans to lead the track-drying delegation at the 1.366-mile oval, but persistent storms made it impossible to race.

When the race does get going, Noah Gragson — winner of the Xfinity season opener at Daytona in February — will start from the No. 1 spot after a structured draw for starting positions. He’ll line up alongside JR Motorsports teammate Michael Annett on the front row. Points leader Harrison Burton starts 12th.

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