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US officials to boycott Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights atrocities

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U.S. government officials will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China’s human rights “atrocities”, the White House said on Monday, just weeks after talks aimed at easing tense relations between the two superpowers.

The diplomatic boycott, which leaves athletes free to travel to Beijing to compete, has been encouraged by some members of Congress and rights advocacy groups for months.

Beijing threatened unspecified “resolute countermeasures” against any such move before Monday’s announcement, which is certain to further strain relations already at their lowest point in decades.

President Joe Biden’s administration highlighted what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang.

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press briefing, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki added. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home.”

The move comes despite an effort to stabilize ties with a video meeting last month between Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping.

China’s embassy in Washington called the boycott “political manipulation” as no invitations had been extended to U.S. politicians.

“In fact, no one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held,” embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said.

The boycott reflects the Cold War mentality of the United States, the spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations said in a statement.

“The U.S. just wants to politicize sports, create divisions and provoke confrontation,” the statement said. This approach will find no support and is doomed to fail.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the United States consulted allies on a “shared approach” to the Beijing Games. It was unclear if they would follow the U.S. lead. read more

“Canada remains deeply disturbed by the troubling reports of human rights violations in China,” Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “We were notified of the U.S. decision and we will continue to discuss this matter with our partners and allies.”

The Australian and Japanese governments said on Tuesday they were also still considering their positions for the Games, which begin on Feb. 4.

“We will consider matters such as the meaning of the Olympic Games and our diplomatic relations, and would like to make our own decision based on what is best for our national interest,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said his country would not be sending government officials but that decision was based largely on COVID-19 concerns and preceded the U.S. boycott.

“We’ve made clear to China on numerous occasions our concerns about human rights issues – as recently as the Prime Minister talking to President Xi,” Robertson told reporters, according to state broadcaster TVNZ. “They’re well aware of our view on human rights but we’d already made that decision not to attend.”

Stefano Sannino, chief of the European Union’s diplomatic service, said on Friday that boycotts were a matter for individual member states, not common EU foreign policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only leader of a major country who has accepted China’s invitation.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the government would not dictate private sector practices, but said firms should be “fully cognizant” of what is transpiring in Xinjiang. read more

The diplomatic boycott puts corporate Olympic sponsors in “an awkward spot” but was less concerning than a full boycott including athletes, said Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports who has overseen Olympics broadcast rights deals.

A spokesperson from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal said it would broadcast the Games as planned.

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Pakistan

New Zealand to tour Pakistan twice in 2022-2023

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New Zealand Cricket has confirmed that it will tour Pakistan two times in the year 2022-2023. This was announced by Pakistan Cricket Board’s media release.

“New Zealand Cricket has confirmed it will tour Pakistan for two Tests and three ODIs in December/January 2022-23 as part of the Future Tours Programme and will return in April 2023 for 10 white-ball matches to make up for the September 2021 abandoned tour,” reads a statement by the PCB.

The announcement followed discussions between the NZC and PCB chairmen.

The two Tests and three ODIs will be part of the ICC World Test Championship and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, respectively.

New Zealand’s second outing will feature the Black Caps in two additional ODIs and will now comprise five ODIs and five T20Is that will count towards the ICC Rankings.

The two boards will work together to finalise the dates for the upcoming tours, stated the PCB.

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja expressed his pleasure at the development. “This reflects the strong, cordial and historic relations the two boards have and reconfirms Pakistan’s status as an important member of the cricket fraternity,” he said.

NZC Chief Executive David White said the bond between the two boards was strengthened courtesy of some “very fruitful and constructive discussions” in Dubai between the chairmen of the two boards.

 

“It’s good to be going back,” he said.

It will be a busy time for Pakistan, at home, from March 2022 to April 2023 as the Men in Green will host eight Tests, 11 ODIs and 13 T20Is against Australia, England and New Zealand.

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Babar, Rizwan add another record to their name dethroning Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul

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Pakistan’s attacking opening pair Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan overtook India’s Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to get another record to their name.

The duo provided a 158-run opening stand to help Pakistan chase a record 208-run total at the National Stadium Karachi against West Indies on Thursday.

This was the sixth-century stand between the pair — the most by any batting partners in T20Is.

Previously, the record was held by India’s batting pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, who had five-century stands to their credit.

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Pakistan

PCB appoints Faisal Hasnain as new Chief Executive

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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has appointed Faisal Hasnain as its new Chief Executive following the resignation of Wasim Khan earlier this year in September.

Faisal is UK-qualified Chartered Accountant and has had a professional career of over 35 years in high-profile finance and sports administration roles with some of the world’s leading blue-chip organisations.

He was the former International Cricket Council (ICC)’s Chief Financial Officer in Monaco and Dubai and was working as the Managing Director of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).

The PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja is also delighted with the appointment of Hasnain and is eager to work alongside him.

“I am delighted to confirm the appointment of Faisal Hasnain as the PCB’s Chief Executive and welcome him to Pakistan cricket family,” Raja was quoted as saying in the PCB press release.

“Faisal is a familiar figure in world cricket and is highly regarded, respected and trusted for his excellence in corporate governance, financial management and commercial acumen,” he said. “With the plans, I have for the PCB, Faisal will be a perfect fit as he can utilise his vast experience and knowledge to help us achieve our commercial and financial objectives of making Pakistan cricket bigger and stronger,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hasnain stated that he is “honoured and privileged to have been awarded with this once in a lifetime opportunity to serve Pakistan cricket”.

He also thanked the PCB Chairman and the Board of Governors for “having the confidence” in his capabilities.

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