Federation Cup champions Bashundhara Kings and former league champions Dhaka Abahani Limited maintained their winning streak in the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating their rivals at different venues on Saturday.
With the day's feat, star-studded Bashundhara and six times league champions Abahani shared the top slot jointly in the league table securing nine points from straight three matches.
At the Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Stadium in Cumilla, Bashundhara Kings earned a narrow 1-0 victory over all-losers Brothers Union Club despite dominating the match all through at their home venue.
BFF president Kazi Mohammad Salahuddin and Vice President Ataur Rahman Bhuiyan Manik witnessed the day's match in Cumilla and were introduced to players of both teams before the match.
Brazilian winger Robson Da Silva Robinho, who scored twice in Kings’ 2-1 victory over Police FC in the last match, again came to the rescue scoring the winning goal in the 63rd minute with a powerful right footer, off a Ibrahim cross.
In the day's other match, Dhaka Abahani Ltd also managed a face-saving 1-0 victory over Rahmatganj MFS at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
After a barren first half, local forward Jewel Rana scored the match-decider for popular sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit in the 79th minute, utilising a pass of Afghan medio Masih Saighani.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan reiterated on Friday their commitment to hosting the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied a report of a possible cancellation.
"Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue," said the Japanese government in the statement.
"At an IOC Executive Board meeting in July last year, it was agreed that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held on July 23 this year, and the program and venues for the Games were rescheduled accordingly. All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.
"We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer."
The IOC said "together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year."
Manchester City forward Kun Aguero has tested positive for COVID-19, revealed the Argentine on Thursday.
Aguero, 32, has made only five appearances this season so far after coming back from a left knee injury sustained in June last year.
"After a close contact, I've been self-isolating and the latest test I took was positive for COVID-19," tweeted the prolific forward. "I had some symptoms and I'm following doctor's orders for recovery. Take care, everyone!"
Manchester City is currently second in the Premier League, two points behind Manchester United but with a game in hand. They will visit West Bromwich Albion next Tuesday.
Bayern Munich remains in turmoil due to internal disagreements about which players to sign and sell.
Everybody is concerned that the current squad might not be capable of successfully defending this season's Champions League and national league titles.
But disunity about the measures to restructure the size of the squad is causing tension ahead of the league encounter against bottom side Schalke 04 this Sunday.
Coach Hansi Flick is demanding a top-class replacement for David Alaba and seems unhappy about the back-ups bought by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Alaba is said to be leaving at the end of this season. Real is reportedly the Austrian's destination.
"Natural changes are always a chance to increase a team's quality. I am sure the club will take action to buy a top-class replacement," Flick said. The Bayern coach's statement increased the pressure on club officials such as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
The Bavarian's chairman spoke about the club's interest in Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano but said the 22-year-old might be a financial challenge in difficult pandemic times.
Reports speak of an exit-clause worth 45 to 60 million euros for summer 2021. "Upamecano is a top-notch player and one we are interested in, but we have to consider financial resources as income has decreased in the pandemic," Rummenigge stated.
Rummenigge and Salihamidzic favor a conservative staffing policy, while Flick and team leaders demand significant investments to ensure the squad stays of the same quality.
Salihamidzic is accused of having spoiled a possible contract extension of Alaba and Boateng. Alaba has lost faith after Salihamidzic offered him to Manchester City in a swap deal for Leroy Sane.
Possible defensive replacements, such as 80-million euro Lucas Hernandez and 18-year-old French talent Tanguy Nianzou, haven't yet broken through properly. Niklas Suele, Alphonso Davies, and Benjamin Pavard are all inconsistent.
The uncertain situation is causing difficulties in the defense. Letting in 25 goals in the Bundesliga and losing to second-tier Holstein Kiel indicate all is not well at the club.
British media speak of interest in Omar Richards (22/Reading), while Italian press is talking about Nicolo Barella (Inter) as a possible target.
Flick has expressed his disapproval regarding the club's actions and is said to be considering leaving if things continue to endanger his team's progress.
Reports speak of arguments as Bayern is facing management changes with new younger faces coming in. Rummenigge will retire at the end of 2021 and former German keeper Oliver Kahn will take over as the new chairman.
While Rummenigge says it's too early to talk straight about new arrivals, Flick insists that things need to be fixed in the near future.
Flick insists to only rely on a low budget transfer-policy in the range of 10 to 15 million euros and club academy talents that might not be enough to play a vital role on the European stage.
Rummenigge claims neither Alaba nor Boateng will bring in any transfer fees as their contracts expire next summer.
Just about everybody, especially the organizers in Japan and Switzerland, want the Tokyo Olympics to open on July 23 — as scheduled.
And yet, 2021 is starting on a similar path that led to the decision last March to postpone the games for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese authorities and the International Olympic Committee moved quickly Friday to dismiss a report by The Times of London that quoted an anonymous government official claiming it has been concluded the games will be canceled.
“Categorically untrue,” Japan’s government said in a statement endorsed by the IOC.
The same unidentified government official said Tokyo could instead host in 2032, after Paris and Los Angeles take their turns in 2024 and 2028, respectively.
It follows surveys suggesting Japanese people feel less and less enthusiastic about an Olympics already costing the host nation about $25 billion of mostly public money.
When will the Tokyo Olympics be held, if at all?
Speculation was fueled this month when Japan’s government put Tokyo under a state of emergency order to curb a surge of COVID-19 cases.
The virus is resistant to being brought under control worldwide. Its future path is uncertain as more transmissible mutant strains emerge.
Vaccination programs have been slower than hoped for in some wealthier countries that secured significant numbers of doses.
If an unwanted cancellation decision must be made, it should be led by Japanese authorities. The United Nations could be asked to help, a veteran IOC official suggested this month.
If clarity is needed soon, with more than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes due to compete in Tokyo, March has key dates in the Olympic calendar.
The IOC has meetings scheduled March 7-12 in Athens, Greece, if such gatherings are possible. The full membership is set to re-elect Thomas Bach unopposed for a second presidential term.
On March 25, the torch relay is due to start in Japan. It will involve 10,000 runners across the country.
The postponement last March was announced two days before the torch relay was to start.
It’s this year or never: So runs the consistent message out of Tokyo and the IOC’s home city of Lausanne, Switzerland.
“There is no Plan B,” Bach told the Japanese news agency Kyodo on Thursday.
However, he also insisted last year there would be no postponement, and it soon became inevitable.
For the games to go ahead as planned, the travel, quarantine and safe conduct rules will be strict. These would apply also to any fans allowed to enter venues.
Organizers plan to publish within weeks “Playbooks” that “outline the personal responsibilities each person attending the games must follow,” the International Paralympic Committee said Friday. The Tokyo Paralympics start Aug. 24.
There was support last year in Japan for a two-year postponement direct to 2022.
One factor tempts some to think 2022 is open: There is no soccer World Cup in its usual June-July slot.
The other global sports behemoth was moved in 2015 by FIFA to play in Qatar from Nov. 21-Dec. 18 next year.
Postponing again would inconvenience two key Olympic sports that already moved their 2021 world championships to make space for Tokyo.
The swimming worlds are now in May 2022 in Fukuoka, Japan. Track and field’s worlds are now in July 2022 at Eugene, Oregon.
A bigger barrier to this option is the extra costs and fatigue in Japan of extending contracts for one more year. For staff, venue rentals, hotels and, crucially, the athlete village.
Owners of pre-sold apartments in the 5,600-unit complex are already being compensated for waiting one more year to access their property.
The next available slot in the four-year Summer Games cycle is 2032, after Paris and Los Angeles.
Could Tokyo be offered it to cancel this year and re-start in several years’ time? That would upset would-be hosts already talking to the IOC.
An Australian bid centered on Brisbane is a front-runner in a new process that aims to be more pro-active and cut costs. The is promoted by Australian Olympic official John Coates, a key Bach ally.
Financial implications for Olympic stakeholders of canceling Tokyo are huge though likely not crippling.
The IOC earned $5.7 billion in the four years to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and would have expected more from Tokyo.
Broadcast and sponsor deals are at risk, though the IOC has strong relationships with long-term commercial partners.
The most consequential deal, NBC’s broadcast rights in the United States, is worth $7.75 billion through the 2032 Summer Games.
The IOC was insured against a cancellation in 2020 but that policy did not cover a postponement.
It does have substantial reserves, including an Olympic Foundation portfolio worth $989 million according to the published accounts for 2019. The fund’s purpose includes “to cover the IOC’s operating cash requirements in the event of a cancellation of any future Olympic Games.”
The IOC is due to share about $600 million among 27 sports as their share of its Tokyo Olympics revenue.
Canceling Tokyo is a big hit for some of those governing bodies, though most have their own reserves. They also had access to loans from the IOC and government of Switzerland, where most are based.