Narail Express Foundation, the charity run by Bangladesh cricket’s most successful captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, launched a mobile medical unit to serve his home district during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the initiative, NEF will offer treatment services focused on the marginal population in the remote areas of the district. Besides anyone infected with the coronavirus, other patients will also receive medical advice and treatment from this mobile medical unit, according to the charity’s Facebook page, that Mashrafe himself also confirmed.
“Chairman of Narail Express Foundation, Mashrafe, announced to launch a medical team to treat the people who live in the remote areas of the district. The initiative will start working from Sunday (Apr 5). If you think you need this service, please contact us,” read the announcement on the social media page of the charity.
“We will be updating our programme, and inform you all about the working areas. To make this initiative a success, please do practice social distancing and the other medical advice which was instructed by the government,” it also said.
Earlier, Mashrafe helped 1,200 families by providing them with food and groceries. He also provided 500 PPEs (personal protective equipment) for the health-workers of Narail. Bangladesh cricket’s most successful captain also donated half his monthly salary to tackle the current situation in the country which was prompted by the deadly coronavirus.
Kobe Bryant's resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness: He's now, officially, a Hall of Famer.
And he's got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any.
Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year's class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.
"He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him," Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said. "It was a special thing done through that committee."
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.
Bryant's death has been part of a jarring start of the year for basketball: Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died on Jan. 1, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash in late January, and the NBA shut down March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the U.S.
"Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate," Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. "But it's definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we're incredibly proud of him."
Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
"This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons," Colangelo said.
Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He also was part of Boston's 2008 NBA title.
"This is the culmination," Garnett said. "All those hours ... this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called 'Hall of Famer' is everything."
Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn't understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.
Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.
The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.
For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran's, Women's Veteran's, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.
With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.
"We didn't need to water it down," Colangelo said. "Next year is another year for many."
The under-construction Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has been talking about the possibility of occupying the massive development on Tokyo Bay, which is to house up to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and staff during the games.
The complex, which will eventually include 24 buildings, is expected to remain unoccupied with the Olympics delayed for 16 months.
Koike said the Athletes Village was "one of the options, but the village is not finished yet. We are talking about places that are available even today or tomorrow and checking a possibility one by one."
As another alternative, Koike said on Friday that the Tokyo city government would buy a hotel to house patients.
Through Thursday, Japan had reported about 3,300 cases of coronavirus with 74 deaths, according to the health ministry. Tokyo reported 97 new cases on Thursday with officials looking for more beds in the capital as totals rise.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people and can include a fever, coughing and mild pneumonia. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
The 5,600 units in the Athletes Village will be renovated after the Olympics and sold. Almost 1,000 are now for sale, or have been sold. Occupancy was supposed to begin in 2023, and apartment prices are listed between $500,000 and $2 million.
The Athletes Village is a joint venture involving 10 major companies and the city of Tokyo. The complex will be known as Harumi Flag and the developers include Mitsui Fudosan Residential Co., Nomura Real Estate Development Co., and Sumitomo Realty & Development Co.
The group running Harumi Flag said the proposal to use the property for coronavirus beds was speculation and added the developers had not heard from the city. The group also said Harumi Flag had not decided on its plans for the development in light of the 16-month Olympic postponement.
One of the biggest challenges for Olympics organizers will be lining up the Athletes Village for next year, along with about 40 sports venues.
Estimates suggest the postponement will cost between $2 billion and $6 billion, with most of the bill going to Japanese taxpayers.
Tokyo organizers officially are spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, although a government audit says the figure is twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.
Organizing committee documents show the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion. The IOC had income of $5.7 billion in the last four-year Olympic cycle. More than 90% is from selling broadcast rights and sponsorships.
The Japanese professional baseball and soccer seasons will be further delayed as the country grapples with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Japanese professional baseball had aimed to open its season on April 24 after previously pushing it back from March 20.
After a meeting Friday of a joint coronavirus task force established by the NPB and soccer's J-League, Japanese baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito said there was no option but to postpone opening day again.
"Unfortunately things are getting worse now," Saito said. "We'll have a meeting with all 12 teams, but it appears like we'll have to be prepared for an extension (to our postponement)."
After briefly starting in February, the J-League's first and second divisions suspended play later in the month.
J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai said it would be difficult to go ahead with the planned re-start of the first division on May 9.
"I think it's unrealistic to say that we can hold the games as scheduled," Murai said.
A number of NPB and J-League players have been infected with the new virus.
On Tuesday, Japan and Vissel Kobe defender Gotoku Sakai became the first player from the J-League to test positive for COVID-19. That followed last week's announcement that three players from the Hanshin Tigers, of Japan's professional baseball league, had also tested positive.
The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Tokyo confirmed 97 more cases on Thursday, the largest single-day number of infections yet in the capital. Japan has recorded more than 2,600 cases of COVID-19 and 63 deaths from the disease.
The countdown clocks have been reset and are ticking again for the Tokyo Olympics.
The model outside Tokyo Station, and others across the Japanese capital, were switched on almost immediately after organizers announced the new dates — July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.
The clocks read 479 days to go. That seems a long way away, but also small and insignificant compared with the worldwide fallout from the coronavirus.
Then again, it's not much time to reassemble the first Olympics to be postponed since the modern games began 124 years ago; not for 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes, and not for sponsors, broadcasters, the fans that have already bought tickets and Japanese organizers and taxpayers who have spent billions and will have to come up with billions more to pay for the setback.
"I believe that these Olympics are going to have great historical significance," Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, said after confirming the new dates.
Mori, an 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, also recalled there's no guarantee that the coronavirus pandemic will be under control a year from now. That includes the new dates for the Paralympics now set for Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
"This is a prayer that we have and I do believe that someone is going to listen to our prayers," Mori said.
After cursory talk about an Olympics in the spring, the new summer dates overlap perfectly with the same time slot that was picked for 2020. Organizers are hoping to overlay the old plans with new plans, keeping venues in place, securing thousands of rooms in the Athletes Village, deploying the same volunteers, and letting people who bought tickets keep them.
The summer date also avoids conflicts with the crowded North American and European sports schedules. But summer in Tokyo also means grappling with intense heat and humidity, the major worry for games organizers before the pandemic.
"Obviously in the summer there might be typhoons and the heat problems," Mori said. "However, this situation is the same. We always had those problems so we will be prepared for those issues."
Though the international sports federations went along with the new dates, some of them, like the International Triathlon Union, preferred the cooler spring during Japan's cherry blossom season. But that was overridden by the easiest route to lining up venues.
"We are having discussions with all the venues at the moment," said Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee. "At this point we don't have a final decision. However, some problems have already become apparent."
Muto said organizers haven't yet heard from any venues saying the rescheduled Olympic events can't be staged there next year.
"There are a lot of venues that can't make a decision yet. So we have to negotiate with them," he said. "If we have to make a change to the venues, then we might have to change the competition schedule as well.
"I personally don't think there are going to be many major changes to the (competition) schedule," he added. "But our discussions haven't gone that far yet."
David Wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said the Olympics in 2021 — they will still be officially called the 2020 Olympics — could become a symbol for a world pulling together after the pandemic.
"I see this postponement as more of an opportunity for the Olympic Movement, rather than a setback," he said in an email to The Associated Press.
He said an outright cancellation, rather than postponement, probably was not feasible.
"From a financial point of view, cancellation was not a viable option," he said. "The repercussions would have been complex and widespread."
The Olympic flame, which arrived from Greece on March 12, will stay temporarily in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. The Olympics were supposed to focus on that area's struggles from the earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in 2011. But the flame's symbolism next year is likely to shift to recovery from the pandemic.
Mori and Muto have both acknowledged rejiggering the Olympics will incur "massive costs." Estimates range between an added $2 billion-$6 billion. And Japanese taxpayers will pick up most of the bills, as they have for most of the preparations so far.
Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.
"There will be costs and we will need to consider them one by one," Muto said. "I think that will be the tougher process."
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are already twice that much. When it won the bid in 2013, Tokyo said the Olympics could cost $7.3 billion.
All of the spending is public money except for $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget. About $3.3 billion in that budget has been raised from local sponsorship deals driven by Dentsu Inc., Japan's giant advertising and public relations company.
That sponsorship amount is almost three times more than any previous Olympics.
"The current sponsor contracts will expire this year," Muto said. "And since the games will be extended until next year, we would like to ask them for extensions. I'm not hearing they have any specific objections to this. And whether we would like to ask them for more contributions — nothing has been decided."
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion to the Tokyo Olympics, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC's contribution goes into the operating budget.
The IOC had income in the latest four-year Olympic cycle of $5.7 billion, and 73% was from selling broadcast rights with 18% from long-term sponsor revenue. American broadcaster NBC makes up half of the IOC's broadcast revenue and pays more than $1 billion for the rights to each Olympics.
The IOC also has almost $2 billion in reserve funds and insurance to cover emergency situations.
"NBC, in particular, has a lot to say," Wallechinsky said. "That's why the games are scheduled for the summer, which is not ideal for athletes competing in outdoors sports. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics took place in October, when the weather was more favorable."
The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of Japan's war with China. The Olympics in 1916 and 1944 were also canceled because of wars. And these Olympics have had a bumpy time, which included the resignation last year of the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee amid a bribery scanda l.
"Even the 1940 Tokyo Olympics were planned for September-October," Wallechinsky said. "For 2020-2021, you see the power of television."