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Uncertainty shrouds Tokyo 2020 Olympics amid coronavirus pandemic

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Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) — As the novel coronovirus pandemic solidifies its grip around the globe, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged on Monday that delaying the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was “unavoidable.”

“If it is difficult to hold [the Games] in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable,” Abe told lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Tokyo.

Abe pushed hard for Tokyo’s selection as the host city during an International Olympic Committee meeting in 2013. Until now, the Japanese prime minister and Olympic organizers have held firm that the Games will kick off as planned on July 24.

Japan appears to have successfully slowed the spread of the respiratory virus on home soil so far, with just 1,101 diagnosed cases as of Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. But as the health crisis deepens in other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, a growing number of Olympic teams and athletes are calling on organizers to postpone or cancel the upcoming Games.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board on Sunday said it would assess the worldwide situation over the next four weeks and make a decision that could include the scenario of postponing the Games. The board, however, emphasized that it has no current plans to outright cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics as such a scenario “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody.”

Just hours after the International Olympic Committee said it would consider delaying — but not canceling — the Tokyo Games, Canada became the first country to announce it won’t be sending athletes to this year’s Olympics due to risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee called on organizers to delay the Games for one year.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the committees said in a joint statement Sunday. “This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health.”

Australia followed suit Monday. After deciding unanimously not to send a team, the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that “our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families.”

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said athletes should prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

“The athletes desperately want to go to the games,” Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday, “but they also take onboard their own personal health.”

“We need to give our athletes that certainty,” he added, “and that’s what we’ve done.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Report: Patriots agree to one-year deal with quarterback Brian Hoyer

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33ft/iStock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of Tom Brady’s departure from the team, the New England Patriots have reportedly added veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer to its roster.

A source tells ESPN the Patriots and Hoyer have agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.05 million.

Hoyer, 34, played for the Indianapolis Colts last season, appearing in four games and throwing for 372 yards with four touchdowns. He was released by the team on Saturday.

He will join the Patriots for the third time in his NFL career — he played for the team from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2017 to 2018.

Hoyer’s addition to the roster comes a week after Brady announced he was leaving New England following a 20-year run with the team.

The 42-year-old quarterback later announced he was joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Tom Brady confirms he's headed to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Tom Brady confirmed he’s headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a statement posted to Instagram Friday.

“Excited, humble and hungry …if there is one thing I have learned about football, it’s that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that…you earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day,” Brady wrote. “I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the @buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do.”

“I look forward to meeting all my new teammates and coaches and proving to them that they can believe and trust in me,” Brady continued. “I have always believed that well done is better than well said, so I’m gonna not gonna say much more – I’m just gonna get to work.”

On Tuesday morning, the star quarterback announced he was leaving the New England Patriots.

“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage of my life and career,” Brady said Tuesday.

“I cherished every opportunity I had to be a part of our team,” he said of his 20-year run in New England.

Monday marked the official start of free agency, when teams are permitted to negotiate with free agents from other clubs.

Free agent players, including Brady, were free to sign with any team once the new league year officially began at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

In the 2000 NFL draft, Brady was the 199th pick overall. 

The 42-year-old leaves New England with 41 playoff starts since 2001. He has played in nine Super Bowls, won six and notched four Super Bowl MVP awards.

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Lions trade cornerback Slay to Eagles

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Justin Edmonds/Getty Images(DETROIT) — The Lions have traded pro bowl cornerback Darius Slay to the Eagles for a third round and fifth round pick in this years draft, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. 

Slay’s agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN the two sides have agreed to a three year, 50 million dollar deal.

The 29 year-old will become the highest paid cornerback in the league based on the annual average of the deal, which is 16.67 million dollars. His contract just beat out Miami’s Byron Jones, who signed a five year, 82.5 million dollar deal that averages 16.50 million dollars a year. 

A star cornerback was one of the biggest needs for Philadelphia this offseason.

Last year, the Eagles allowed 15 pass plays of 40 yards of more, the second most in the NFL. 

Slay was drafted by Detroit out of Mississippi State in the second round in 2013. 

He recorded 19 interceptions and 103 passes defended during his seven years with the team and made the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons. 

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Olympic flame to arrive in Japan as plans for Tokyo Games forge ahead despite pandemic

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ARIS MESSINIS / AFP / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images(TOKYO) — After being lit at a sparsely attended ceremony in Greece, the Olympic flame is slated to arrive in Japan on Friday amid growing calls for the upcoming Tokyo Games to be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced last week it was cancelling the Olympic torch relay around Greece “in order to contribute to the containment of the virus.” The handover ceremony to Japanese Olympic officials was carried out as planned at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday, but with no public in attendance.

Bringing the flame to Japan takes organizers one step closer to their goal of staging the 2020 Summer Olympics as scheduled on July 24, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed hard for Tokyo’s selection as the host city during an International Olympic Committee meeting in 2013.

But a global outbreak of the novel coronavirus has shrouded the games in doubt, even as organizers maintain they are forging ahead with the events as planned and encourage athletes to continue training.

More than 222,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with the new respiratory virus, known officially as COVID-19, since it was first detected in China back in December. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

A number of Olympic athletes have voiced concerns on social media about the games still being held as scheduled this summer amid the global health crisis.

Greek Olympic champion pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi wrote on Twitter that the International Olympic Committee’s advice for athletes to keep training is “risking our health, our family’s health and public health.”

“This is not about how things will be in 4 months. This is about how things are now,” Stefanidi tweeted Tuesday. “You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months.”

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British Olympic heptathlete wrote on Twitter that she feels “under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible.”

“We’re trying to follow information with how to continue safely whilst reducing the risk to everyone around us and the information of the IOC and local government are at odds with one another,” Johnson-Thompson tweeted Tuesday.

“The IOC advice ‘encourages athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games as best they can’ with the Olympics only four months away, but the government legislation is enforcing isolation at home with tracks, gyms and public spaces closed,” she continued.

Just under 1,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Japan, and a top Olympic official is one of them. Kozo Tashima, the president of the Japan Football Association and vice-chairman of the Japan Olympic Committee, revealed that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday.

“I pray that the Olympics and all sports can be performed safely in Japan and around the world,” Tashima said in a statement.

With the Tokyo Olympics just four months away, Japan is scrambling to prevent further spread of the disease on home soil. The Japanese government has established the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters, while the Tokyo metropolitan government has set up an internal task force. The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has also established its own task force.

Meanwhile, the Japanese prime minister has ordered all elementary, middle and high schools to stay closed until spring holidays begin in late March.

More recently, Abe announced that travelers from dozens of European nations and other countries, including Egypt and Iran, will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Japan. He said an entry ban will also be imposed on visitors from Iceland as well as virus-hit areas of Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

After last week’s symbolic lighting of the Olympic flame in the ancient Greek site of Olympia, the International Olympic Committee confirmed its “full commitment to the success” of the upcoming games and said it would continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organization.

“We remain absolutely in line with our Japanese hosts in our commitment to delivering safe Olympic Games in July this year,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on March 12.

“At the same time, the world is facing challenges that are also impacting sport. But with 19 weeks before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace,” the statement continued.

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee’s CEO, Toshiro Muto, reiterated to reporters Tuesday night that “everyone is committed to having the games as scheduled.”

“Our point of view, our stance is that as scheduled the Olympic games will take place in a safe and secure manner,” Muto said at a press conference in Tokyo. “We will continue to make efforts for that to happen. That is our stance.”

A spokesperson for Tokyo Olympic organizing committee told ABC News Thursday that their stance has not changed since the CEO spoke.

One employee at the headquarters for the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games acknowledged the doubts surrounding the games but, when asked how he felt about it, he simply shrugged and said, “I have no choice but to believe the games will happen.”

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