Sports Shorts

Norway won’t face action over Qatar human rights protest

News and reactions from the world of sport, including a 1990s snooker throwback

Norway Qatar protest

1

Football

‘Human rights - on and off the pitch’

Ahead of their opening World Cup qualifying match on Wednesday, Norway’s international footballers wore T-shirts in support of migrant workers in Qatar - the host nation of the Fifa tournament in 2022.

Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in the Gulf state, The Guardian revealed last month. The paper said the analysis indicates that the “shocking figure” over the past decade is “likely to be an underestimate”. 

Captain Martin Odegaard had said that the Norway players were planning to show their feelings before the match against Gibraltar and the T-shirts had a message reading “human rights - on and off the pitch”. 

Fifa confirmed that Norway will not face disciplinary proceedings for the protest. In a statement football’s world governing body said: “Fifa believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good.” 

Norway beat Gibraltar 3-0 in the World Cup qualifying group G clash.

2

Tennis 

From the court to the classroom: tennis stars go back to school

A number of women tennis players are acing their serves and their coursework after signing up to a three-month business course at Harvard University. Britain’s Johanna Konta and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza are among the 2021 intake of the course which gives athletes the chance to “develop business skills by working alongside current MBA students”, the BBC reports. 

Konta says she has “always enjoyed the process of learning” and thinks that “translates into my tennis career”. She added: “Starting to study a little bit again has been a bit nerve-racking, a bit intimidating, but also really fulfilling.”

3

Snooker

Rivals Hendry and White to face each other in qualifier 

The first qualifying round for snooker’s World Championship doesn’t often see two legends go head-to-head, but this year a blockbuster clash is on the agenda. In next month’s best-of-11 frame qualifier Stephen Hendry, 52, will face old rival Jimmy White, 58, in a repeat of the four Crucible finals they played in the 1990s.

When told about the draw Hendry couldn’t believe it. “All those finals and now we’re starting off at rock bottom playing each other in the very first round, it’s incredible,” said the seven-time world champion. “We have been practising together but that will end now.”

They will both need to win four matches just to reach the 2021 Snooker World Championship. Their clash will be held on 6 April and the winner will meet China’s Xu Si.

4

Winter sport

French snowboarder killed in Swiss avalanche

The French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) has paid tribute to former world champion snowboarder Julie Pomagalski, who was killed in an avalanche in Switzerland. 

Pomagalski, 40, and another French freeride snowboarder died after being swept away while skiing off-piste in the canton of Uri, the BBC reports. 

“Julie’s tragic disappearance has left the French Olympic team in mourning for one of their own,” the CNOSF said in a post on Twitter.

5

Olympics 

Torch relay begins for the Tokyo Olympic Games 

The countdown is on to the start of the Tokyo games after the Olympic flame was lit today during a ceremony in Fukushima. A 121-day relay will see the torch carried by 10,000 runners across Japan ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony on 23 July. 

After a year’s delay and a number of scandals, Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto hopes that the Olympic flame will provide “a ray of light at the end of the darkness”. She added: “This little flame never lost hope and it waited for this day like a cherry blossom bud just about to bloom.”

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