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Uganda’s team member tests positive for coronavirus on arrival in Japan
20 June 2021, 12:00 PM

One of Uganda’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic squad tested positive for the new coronavirus on arrival in Japan on Saturday, the first time an infection has been confirmed in an overseas team, Japan’s public media organization NHK reported.

Nine athletes and coaches arrived at Narita airport, near Tokyo, at around 6 p.m. with one of them testing positive during a screening at the airport, the national broadcaster said.

That individual is now staying at a government-designated facility, while the others travelled on to their host city in Osaka, where they will hold their training camp, NHK said.

All of Uganda’s team members had received two shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and had tested negative 72 hours before departing for Japan, according to the report.

The long-delayed Tokyo 2020 Summer Games are due to start on July 23 amid concern that the influx of thousands of people from around the world would contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Organisers are to decide as soon as Monday whether to allow domestic spectators into the stadiums for the Games. Foreign spectators have already been banned.

Discussion on Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 pandemic:

The Tokyo 2020 president is eyeing a cap of 10 000 people per venue, even as government health experts warn against in-person audiences. For the opening ceremony, however, officials are considering allowing as many as 20 000 people to attend, Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television reported on Sunday.

The Uganda team was the second group of foreign athletes to arrive for the tournament, following the arrival of the Australian women’s softball squad on June 1.

Van Niekerk finally qualifies to defend Olympic 400m title
20 June 2021, 11:47 AM

Olympic 400m champions Wayde van Niekerk belatedly confirmed he will defend his title at the Tokyo Games, finishing inside the qualifying time in Madrid on Saturday.

Beset by injury since his Rio heroics five years ago, the South African ran 44.56 at the Continental Tour event at Estadio Vallehermoso to finish 0.34 seconds inside the qualifying time, although he was runner-up to Colombia’s Anthony Jose Zambrano.

It was the first time the world record holder had run under 45 seconds for four years, but he has barely competed since being injured in a charity touch rugby game in October 2017.

Van Niekerk, who smashed Michael Johnson’s 400m world record at the 2016 Rio Olympics to claim gold in 43.03, moved last month to train in the United States under sprint mentor Lance Brauman, who has had him concentrating on the 200m. But a bid to qualify for 200m in Boston last month saw him pull up before the finish line, sparking more concerns about his fitness.

Van Niekerk, however, said at the time it was only precautionary and has since told reporters he is excited and optimistic about the year.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics release a third edition playbook:

IEC
Political parties divided on how to conduct election campaigns
20 June 2021, 7:38 AM

Political parties are still divided on how to conduct their election campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The political space has even become smaller with the country now on adjusted Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, which allows a gathering of only 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

Free and fair elections are always seen as the hallmark of a functioning and maturing democracy. And this is what characterised South Africa’s local and general elections since the dawn of democracy. But with the surge of COVID-19 infections, some political parties say this could threaten the freeness and fairness of the October 27 polls.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is leading the call to postpone the elections, with many more now questioning how free and fair these elections could be under the current conditions.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosi Hlabisa says most voters won’t have maximum participation in the election of their candidates.

National Freedom Party (NFP) Secretary-General Canaan Mdletshe shares the same sentiments, while the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Secretary-General Bongani Msomi says any election with restrictions will never be free and fair.

But not all parties are for the election postponement.

The Congress of the People (COPE) and the Democratic Alliance are among the parties that believe they should go ahead as planned.

DA National spokesperson Siviwe Gharube says for effective campaigning, parties need to be innovative and creative under the new normal.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Election Manager Grant Haskin on the other hand says the pandemic won’t be long to warrant the postponement of elections.

An inquiry to probe the feasibility of conducting the polls amid the pandemic is under way and it will advise the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on a way forward.

Discussion on challenges facing SA as it gears up for polls amid a pandemic:

UN focusses on power of inclusion as it marks World Refugee Day
20 June 2021, 7:09 AM

The United Nations marks World Refugee Day, focussing on the power of inclusion under the theme “Together we heal, learn and shine.”

The Day, previously known as Africa Refugee Day, has been marked on June 20 since 2001 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Some 82 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced by the end of 2020 as a result of persecution, conflict, human rights violation or events that seriously disturb public order.

The UN’s Refugee Agency says it has over 20 million people under its mandate with just five countries – Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar accounting for 68% of all refugees globally.

Key messages from the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, are focussed around education, highlighting the need for including refugees in national education systems for the benefit of both communities.

“Inclusion is not just the broad pieces of including in educations systems, in health systems; it also goes through a lot of very complicated issues. Regularising is a legal process in a country; receiving documentation, having access to bank accounts – I think it was mentioned – having connectivity. These are all less obvious aspects, which actually in our daily lives we take for granted, you know, we have an ID card, we can log in to the internet, we have a bank account, but if you don’t have these things, and they are very often difficult for refugees, there’s no hope for inclusion, there’s no tools for inclusion,” says Grandi.

Discussion on citizenship and rights of asylum seekers and refugees in SA:

New conflicts like the ongoing crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia, further exacerbate what is already an acute global concern, further stretching humanitarian resources that could further be complicated by an impending drought and famine – at a time when the COVID pandemic remains a going concern.

“International financial institutions have set up massive relief programmes, safety-net programmes to help the economies of these countries after situations of lockdown. So, our aim has been with these institutions to say, when you design a rescue package for the economy of a poor country, and you give them hundreds of millions of dollars in loans or grants, make sure that you factor in the fact that that particular country hosts a large number of refugees, and they also must benefit from whatever help is given to the country,” says the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Grandi was speaking at an event co-hosted by the United States after President Joe Biden in May revised the resettlement camp for refugees in the country at 62 500 – up from just 15 000 set by the previous administration.

His Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, says: “I am proud to say that President Biden has acted from day one, to ensure the United States remains a country committed to providing safety for the most vulnerable. The President issued executive orders to rebuild and enhance the US refugee admissions programme and spoken about how we must stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge for the world. As we celebrate the power of inclusion and honour refugees on June 20th, let’s remember the millions of Syrians who desperately, desperately need our help. They and millions of others around the world are counting on us. They are counting on us for life-saving support. They are counting on our common humanity to extend hands in their time of vulnerability and their time of need.”

86% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries, while up to 34 million of the 82 million people forcibly displaced are children below the age of 18.

In conversation with a refugee in SA who fled from the DRC:

sabc news Iran president elect
Amnesty calls for investigation into Iran’s Raisi for crimes against humanity
19 June 2021, 3:19 PM

Amnesty International on Saturday renewed a call for Iranian president-elect Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated for his role in what Washington and rights groups have called the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions and Raisi has never publicly addressed allegations about his role. Some clerics have said the trials were fair, praising the “eliminating” of armed opposition in the early years of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity,” Amnesty Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, said in a statement.

Amnesty has called in the past for an investigation into Raisi, who won Friday’s presidential election.

“We continue to call for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise universal jurisdiction,” she said, pointing to its 2018 documented report on Raisi’s role.

Callamard said the hardline judiciary chief should also be probed over a spiralling crackdown in recent years on human rights.

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