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Beijing Olympics venue restricted to 20% capacity over Covid fears: state media

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The Ice Cube venue will operate at 20 percent capacity during the Beijing Winter Olympics over Covid fears its manager told Chinese state media

A major Beijing Winter Olympics venue will only let in one-fifth the spectators it normally holds due to Covid-19 fears, Chinese state media reported.

With less than 100 days to go to the Games, China is bracing for a major challenge to its zero-Covid strategy as thousands of international athletes and officials descend on its capital after months of strict border controls.

The National Aquatics Centre, the main curling venue, will allow “no more than 1,000 people” – 20 percent of its capacity – to attend 2022 Winter Olympics events, manager Yang Qiyong told the state-run Global Times in comments published Thursday.

The venue, built to host water sports during the 2008 Summer Olympics, was dubbed the “Water Cube” for its striking box-like design.

It got a new nickname – the “Ice Cube” – after being refitted for the Beijing Winter Games.

All staff at the venue have received booster Covid-19 jabs, and backup personnel will be deployed to “take over if anyone has an epidemic-related problem”, Yang added.

China has managed to restrict domestic infections to small clusters through aggressive lockdowns and mass testing, although a nationwide spike in the past month has put authorities on high alert again.

Coming just six months after the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Games, the Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to 20 in a “closed loop” bubble.

No spectators from outside China will be allowed to attend.

Read Also: WCQ: Ighalo excited to be back in Super Eagles squad

And the estimated 2,900 athletes must be fully vaccinated or face 21 days’ quarantine upon arrival. They will also be tested daily.

The Beijing Winter Games organisers have said the coronavirus is the biggest challenge in the lead-up.

The event is also facing boycott calls from international campaigners over human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang region as well as in Hong Kong and Tibet.

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Ligue 1: Marseille stunned by in-form Brest

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Marseille missed the chance to cement their grip on second place in the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as Jorge Sampaoli’s side threw away the lead to lose 2-1 at home to a Brest team on a record winning run.

Brazilian international Gerson gave Marseille a first-half lead at the Velodrome with his second goal in as many games after playing a one-two with captain Dimitri Payet.

However, Brest drew level early in the second half as Romain Faivre scored a penalty awarded for a handball by Boubacar Kamara.

Franck Honorat then crashed a superb winner in off the underside of the crossbar as the side from Brittany made it six successive league wins, the best run in their history in the top flight.

Read Also: EPL: Masuaku fluke helps West Ham beat Chelsea in London derby

They are up to sixth, while Marseille remain second, 12 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who are in action later on Saturday at Lens.

Kylian Mbappe could be rested for a PSG side already missing the injured Neymar, but Lionel Messi — who won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday — should start.

Marseille could drop down the table depending on results elsewhere this weekend, with Rennes and Nice both sitting within two points of the former Champions League winners.

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Bernardo stars again as Man City move to top of EPL with Watford win

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Bernardo Silva continued his scintillating form as Manchester City surged to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable 3-1 victory at struggling Watford.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a simple header on four minutes as the visitors threatened to run riot against the home side’s porous defence.

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Jack Grealish had several chances to double the advantage before the in-form Bernardo fizzed in a rebound from a narrow angle just past the half hour.

 

City continued to pose all of the questions following the restart and Bernardo grabbed his seventh goal of the season with a wonderful curler that flew into the top corner on 63 minutes.

For long spells it looked like a case of how many for the visitors but Watford did give the home support some cheer when substitute Cucho Hernandez acrobatically volleyed in a rebound 16 minutes from time.

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The result means City take advantage of former leaders Chelsea’s defeat at West Ham earlier in the day to move a point clear of second-placed Liverpool at the summit. Watford remain three points above the drop zone in 17th spot.

Pep Guardiola’s men will now turn their focus to Tuesday’s Champions League clash at RB Leipzig having already guaranteed top spot in Group A before hosting Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday. Watford travel to Brentford on Friday evening.

 

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EPL: Origi nets in stoppage time as Liverpool take advantage of Chelsea slip

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