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Gearing up for 2020 Olympics, Japan breaks tourism record

A record number of tourists visited Japan last year, the government said Friday, as the country gears up to welcome the world to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Some 28.7 million foreign tourists entered Japan in 2017, meaning the country has tripled its number of visitors in the past five years amid a massive promotional drive ahead of the Olympics. This was a nearly 20 percent gain on the previous year, driven by Chinese tourists taking advantage of more frequent low-cost flights to Japan. According to figures up to November, Chinese tourists led the way with 6.79 million trips, just ahead of South Korea with 6.46 million. Tokyo has eased visa requirements, expanded...Keep on reading: Gearing up for 2020 Olympics, Japan breaks tourism record.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJan 12th, 2018

Travelers shattered tourism records around the world in 2017

The numbers are trickling in from tourism offices and it seems that 2017 was a banner year for many parts of the world. Japan posted a record 28.7 million tourist visitors in 2017, marking the sixth consecutive year of growth for the country, reports The Japan Times.Moreover, the record-breaking tourist arrivals in 2017 marks an impressive 20 percent increase from the previous year. Despite the achievement, tourism minister Keiichi Ishii said the country needs to diversify its tourist market, which is dominated by visitors from neighboring Asian countries. He credited the rise to discount flights from South Korea, cruise ships from China and the relaxed visa requirements for...Keep on reading: Travelers shattered tourism records around the world in 2017.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Squat thrust: Japan on Olympic drive to get rid of ‘squat’ toilets

Japan has launched a campaign to convert unpopular Asian-style squat toilets into sit-on “western” models, as the nation prepares to welcome tens of millions of foreign tourists in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The high-tech country is famous for its toilet technology that can bewilder foreign visitors, with features ranging from seat warming… link: Squat thrust: Japan on Olympic drive to get rid of ‘squat’ toilets.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

RP Blu Girls set sights on 2020 Tokyo Olympics

With the return of Softball in the upcoming 2020 Olympics, the Philippines is making a serious run to book a trip to Tokyo. The first step in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics is the 11th Asian Women Softball Championships next week in Taiwan where the RP Blu Girls will compete. Actually, not just compete. Our world no. 17 softball squad will go after a medal. However, it's not going to be easy though. Despite the Blu Girls being ranked fourth best in Asia, three Asian teams belong in the top 10 in the world. Japan is no. 1, China is no. 6, and Taipei is no. 9. All of them will also compete in the Taiwan tournament, not to mention the always-dangerous South Korea who are 26th in the world and fifth in Asia. Still, there is quiet confindence from the Blu Girls after a banner year. "Trying to look at it from the last Asian Games and the last tournaments that we have been playing, we have beaten top-10 teams. I think we can do it," head coach Venerando Dizer said. This year alone, the RP Blu Girls have scored impressive wins over world no. 3 Canada and world no. 4 Australia. The team also already beat Taipei twice. The Blue Girls will open the Asian Championships on November 28 against no. 1 Japan. "We're playing Japan right away, for me, I would rather play them right away so that at least from there, we can adjust to qualify for the playoffs," Dizer said. MISSION POSSIBLE: TOKYO OLYMPICS With the return of softball to the Summer Games, the primary goal for the Blu Girls is to nab one of the six spots available in the quadrennial showcase. And with a team that is described as the country's best in quite some time, the people behind the program are confident that the Blur Girls can make a serios run for it. "You can tell, that even from the 19-under level, our girls are getting ready to move up the world rankings. We are very, very happy to seee the potential of us being a Olympic-level team in the future," Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) president Jean Henri Lhuillier said. "2020 is going to be tough with only six spots, but we're gonna try," he added. "That's the goal."   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 23rd, 2017

Tale of 2 cities: Olympics sponsors in Pyeongchang and Tokyo

em>By Youkyung Lee and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press /em> SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Winter Olympics coming to South Korea in February offer an example of the Olympian efforts often required to meet corporate sponsorship goals. Tokyo tells a different story: The coffers are already overflowing for the 2020 Summer Games. It's a tale of two cities and two Olympics — winter and summer. Pyeongchang is a little-known destination in one of South Korea's poorest provinces. It is the 'little town that could,' bidding twice unsuccessfully for the Winter Olympics before winning on its third try. A final push enabled it to reach its sponsorship target of 940 billion won ($830 million) in September, with just five months to go. Tokyo is an established global capital, and the Summer Games usually generate more excitement — and more money. Organizers have raised 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) in sponsorship, twice any previous Olympics. International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates describes it as a remarkable achievement. The divergent experiences of two Asian host cities illustrate the challenges that smaller bidders face, as well as South Korea's dependence on the big family-owned companies that dominate its economy. Not that Tokyo is home-free. The cost of the 2020 Games has nearly doubled from initial projections. As with most Olympics, taxpayers will have to foot a good part of the bill. ___ strong>WHERE 'CHAEBOLS' RULE /strong> Starting with the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea has used mega-events such as the soccer World Cup to raise the profile of the country and its manufacturing exporters. Pyeongchang is different. The project was initiated by local politicians in an area long alienated politically and economically in South Korea's rise to prosperity. Some feared people would confuse the city's name with Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. They couldn't count on the automatic support of the huge family-run conglomerates, known as 'chaebol,' such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG. 'When such mega-events were the nation-state's key project, the chaebol were called on and were expected to become the leading participants,' said Joo Yu-min, a professor at the National University of Singapore who co-authored a book on South Korea's use of mega-events. In the end, the national government brought the conglomerates in, first in the bid process, and then for sponsorship. That underscores both the outsized role they play in the economy and their close ties with government. They owe a debt to special treatment from the government, which in turn used them to industrialize the country after the devastating 1950-53 Korean War. After Pyeongchang's bid was rejected a second time, the government called on Samsung and others to help. The president even pardoned Lee Kun-hee, the patriarch of the Samsung founding family who had been an IOC member but voluntarily suspended his membership after being indicted for tax evasion. The IOC reinstated Lee in 2010 with a reprimand and some restrictions, allowing him to lobby heavily for what became Pyeongchang's winning bid in 2011. It took three years for the organizing committee to sign its first domestic sponsor, KT Corp., the country's second-largest mobile carrier. Again, the national government asked the conglomerates for help. All the major ones signed on, after the office of then-President Park Geun-hye made a special request and multichannel pressures for financial assistance, Joo said. Elsewhere, companies may weigh sponsorship decisions based more on the marketing benefits. 'In South Korea, companies make donations out of a sense of duty that they are being part of the national event,' said Park Dong Min, the executive director overseeing membership at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Sponsors who signed up late weren't willing to give as much, because there was less time to enjoy the marketing benefits. A bank that signed on less than a year before the Games significantly reduced its sponsorship. To top it off, a massive sports-related political corruption scandal rocked South Korea in 2016, just when Pyeongchang was making last-ditch efforts to raise sponsorship. 'Companies showed some reluctance' to sponsor the Olympics, said Eom Chanwang, director of the Pyeongchang organizing committee marketing team. 'Nevertheless, they still joined.' The scandal brought down Park, the president. Lee Jae-yong, the heir to the Samsung group, received a five-year sentence for bribery. Lee, who has appealed, had become de facto chief of the Samsung group after his father Lee Kun-hee, the IOC member pardoned in late 2009, fell ill. It was the younger Lee who signed an agreement with IOC President Thomas Bach to extend Samsung Electronics' sponsorship of the Olympics globally through 2020. Samsung declined interviews for this story. With the scandal still fresh in people's minds, major companies have held back from launching full-fledged marketing to promote the Games. 'Samsung traditionally has done consumer marketing through the Olympics, but because its chief is in jail, it cannot do as much these days,' said Kim Do-kyun, a sports professor at Kyung Hee University Graduate School of Physical Education. The Pyeongchang Games were the biggest victim of the scandal, he said. ___ strong>SUMMER OF '64 /strong> The president of Japan's biggest toilet manufacturer was seven years old when the Olympics first came to Japan. TOTO Ltd. made news in 1964 for its prefabricated toilet-and-bath units that helped speed the construction of a luxury hotel, the New Otani, in time for the Games. The company, now known for high-tech toilets that baffle some foreign visitors, is back as a sponsor of Tokyo 2020. 'I feel our company and the Olympics have been bonded by fate,' TOTO president Madoka Kitamura said at a sponsorship signing ceremony at the same hotel last year. The $2.7 billion in sponsorship for Tokyo 2020 is more than three times the original estimate. By comparison, sponsorship revenue was $848 million in Rio de Janeiro last year, and about $1.2 billion for both London 2012 and Beijing 2008. The Winter Olympics typically attract less, though Sochi, Russia, raised $1.2 billion in 2014. Analysts attribute Tokyo's success to both patriotism and a sense of nostalgia for the 1964 Summer Games. They were much more than a sports contest for Japan. They were a moment of pride, marking the country's return as an industrial power after the devastation of World War II and a seven-year U.S. occupation. 'All of Japan still recognizes the unique role that the 1964 Olympics played in Japan's stepping out onto the world stage,' said Michael Payne, a former IOC marketing director who now works as a consultant. 'Many of the CEOs of top Japanese companies would have been young kids back in '64 and are very aware of the role those Games played for the psychological recovery from the Second World War.' They grew up with the high-speed 'Shinkansen' bullet train, inaugurated in 1964; modern expressways and western-style toilets, all symbols of Japan's postwar economic growth. 'Now they have become business leaders, they want to contribute and leave something behind that can be remembered for the next 50 years,' said Masahiko Sakamaki, executive director of marketing for the Tokyo organizing committee. He said that memories of the recovery may have boosted interest in sponsorship, as Japan was still reeling from a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami when Tokyo won the bid in 2013. Sakamaki said the organizing committee started receiving sponsorship inquiries as soon as it was established in 2014, before the official start of sponsorship contracts in 2015. There is so much interest that the IOC is allowing Tokyo to have multiple sponsors in some categories, instead of the usual one, including in aviation, newspaper publishing, electronics and banking. TOTO officials won't say how much they are contributing, but media reports say companies in its sponsorship category give between 6 billion and 15 billion yen ($53 million to $133.5 million). Tokyo 2020 wouldn't comment on those reports. 'We believe our presence as part of an all-Japan effort toward a successful Olympics will enhance our favorable brand image,' said Mariko Shibasaki, the company's senior planner for sports communication. Thanks in part to robust sponsorship revenue, the organizing committee has increased its contribution to the cost of the games from 500 billion to 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion). The sponsorship revenue makes up half of the income in the privately-run organizing committee's operating budget. Other revenue comes from the International Olympic Committee, marketing and ticket sales. The overall cost of the Tokyo Olympics is estimated at 1.4 trillion yen (12.4 billion) with the Tokyo government shouldering 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion) and the remaining 200 billion yen (1.8 billion) paid by the national government and local governments hosting events. ___ em>Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Stephen Wade in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this story. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

IOC, Tokyo organizers aim to cut costs for the 2020 Olympics

em>By Jim Armstrong, Associated Press /em> TOKYO (AP) — The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizing committee wrapped up a two-day project review on Wednesday vowing to cut costs for the 2020 Games and address concerns over water pollution in Tokyo Bay. IOC vice president John Coates said the IOC needs to see cuts of $1 billion from the $12 billion budget. Coates said he saw potential for cost reduction in 11 of the 14 areas that were discussed during the meetings. 'That's the target that we think should be achievable not just by Tokyo but by all summer organizing committees,' said Coates, who chairs the IOC's Coordination Commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 'What we are trying to do is create a situation where there is no strain on the public purse.' For example, Coates said IOC data from previous games shows that Olympic family lounges operate at only 40 percent capacity, meaning Tokyo organizers could save money on staffing such facilities. The IOC is seeking to make the games more affordable as part of President Thomas Bach's 'Agenda 2020' reforms. In a bid to cut costs, Tokyo organizers have moved several events to existing facilities in neighboring prefectures. In late May, local governments outside Tokyo that are to host competitions agreed with the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Japanese government and games organizers on basic principles concerning cost sharing. Yoshiro Mori, the head of the 2020 Tokyo Games organizing committee who also took part in the meetings, said it will be important to explore cost cutting 'based on the framework' reached in May. Mori said that while there have been some heated debates on the cost-cutting efforts, all sides agree that the ultimate goal of delivering the best possible games should be adhered to. Meanwhile, a recent water quality survey at the venue for marathon swimming and triathlon found E. coli bacteria at concentrations up to 21 times the level permitted by the sport's governing body, the Tokyo metropolitan government said. The metropolitan officials attributed the excessive reading to a record rainfall in the Japanese capital in August when there were 21 consecutive days of rain. Precipitation exceeding the processing capacity of sewage facilities can cause sewage water diluted by rain to be discharged into the ocean. Tokyo organizers have ruled out moving the venue and said they plan to implement water quality improvement measures in advance of the games. 'We are conscious that due to exceptionally bad weather this summer, the readings were not what they should be,' Coates said. 'We are looking for reports from the Tokyo municipal government as to what they are planning to do to ensure that even in worst of conditions those matters will be addressed and the health of the athletes in those two sports will not be prejudiced in anyway.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 5th, 2017

Passive smoking measures meet resistance – The Japan News

The gap between the government and the ruling parties over secondhand smoke prevention measures has been widening. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry aims to join the international trend toward a total indoor smoking ban by strengthening restrictions in restaurants and other places. However, cautious views on the ban against a backdrop of opposition from the restaurant industry are growing within the Liberal Democratic Party. While the government plans to submit a bill on a smoking ban during the current Diet session, whether the government and the ruling bloc can reach an agreement on the matter remains unclear. Passive smoking refers to the inhaling of smokers’ tobacco smoke by nonsmokers at restaurants, offices or other such places. It is said that the inhaling of such smoke could increase the risk of lung cancer and stroke by 1.3 times, and sudden infant death syndrome by 4.7 times. The Health Promotion Law enforced in 2003 includes moderate allowances toward the prevention of secondhand smoke, but the health ministry believes the current non-compulsory measure has limited effectiveness and is considering an amendment to the law. According to the proposed measures released by the health ministry on March 1, new regulations would include 1) a smoking ban on the premises of medical facilities, elementary and junior high and high schools, 2) an indoor smoking ban for universities, elderly care facilities, gymnasiums, government and municipal offices, buses and taxis, with designated smoking rooms not being allowed, and 3) an indoor smoking ban for assembly halls, restaurants, offices, and train cars, allowing for the establishment of smoking rooms. Smokers who violate the law would face fines of up to ¥300,000, while facility administrators would face fines of up to ¥500,000. The government aims to enforce the law before the period of the Rugby World Cup, to be held in September 2019, after a two-year get-acquainted period. The ministry’s proposed measures are in accordance with the operational guidelines of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. However, the guidelines call for indoor bans in public places and do not allow for the establishment of smoking rooms. Regarding secondhand smoke measures, Japan remains at “the lowest implementation level in the world.” The health ministry aims to “get closer to international standards before the time when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held in 2020.” According to the ministry, since 2008 when the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games were held, host cities, including Pyeongchang, South Korea, which hosts the Winter Games in 2018, have introduced measures against secondhand smoke including fines and most have fully banned indoor smoking. The WHO divides public places into eight categories (medical facilities, non-university schools, universities, administrative buildings, offices, restaurants, bars and public transit), and has released a ranking of countries based on how many categories are subject to indoor smoking bans. According to the ranking, 49 out of 188 countries, including Britain, Russia and Brazil, have bans for all eight categories. Japan falls in the group of 70 countries such as Malaysia with bans for between 0 and 2 categories. Japan remains lowly ranked as it does not have a law to impose an indoor smoking ban, only having promoted separation of smoking areas. Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki argues: “Many advanced countries have thorough measures. We should keep in mind how Japan looks from the outside.” If the ministry’s proposed measures become law, an indoor smoking ban will apply to medical facilities, elementary, junior high and high schools, universities and public buildings. It could move Japan up one rank higher. Regarding restriction in restaurants, many countries face difficulties like Japan. For example, Berlin has introduced measures in which smoking-friendly restaurants should be less than 75 square meters, off limits to those under 18 years old, and can serve only food which does not need to be cooked to prevent children and pregnant women from entering. In South Korea, smoking is allowed only at some types of establishments such as bars. Restaurants in most countries appear to worry smoking bans may keep away customers, but the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer emphasizes, “Legal total smoking bans imposed on restaurants and bars do not lead to decreased sales and profit for them.” The health ministry’s proposed measures have polarized opinion among the ruling and opposition parties. While the “Yes” side argues that the ministry’s proposed measures are good enough, the “No” side says that smoking is a matter of manners and should not be regulated by law. “If we don’t do something, we will make a fool of ourselves in front of the world,” said Hidehisa Otsuji, a former health, labor and welfare minister and chairman of a cross-party caucus that aims to implement secondhand smoke prevention measures before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The caucus met Shiozaki on March 15 and pressed for the strengthening of rules, arguing, “80 percent of people are non-smokers, and we should prioritize the health of the 80 percent.” It is calling for smoking bans in all restaurants, including bars and small drinking establishments known as “snacks.” However, within the LDP, supporters appear to remain in the minority, and it is believed that as much as 90 percent of LDP members are against it while just 10 percent are supporters. About 100 members from the tobacco caucus, chaired by Takeshi Noda, gathered on March 7 and insisted that “tobacco is legal, but [the health [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 6th, 2017

Tokyo breaks ground on new 2020 Olympics National Stadium

TOKYO — Tokyo held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday for a $1.5 billion National Stadium to host the 2020 Olympic Games.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 12th, 2016

English Articles

Japan asking Philippines for workers for 2020 Olympics.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manila_shimbunRelated NewsNov 8th, 2016

‘World Robot Summit’ coming to Japan in 2020

The robot olympics are coming to Japan in 2020, the same year that the eyes of the world will be on the summer games in Tokyo......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 5th, 2016

Japan OKs $1.5 billion contract for new Tokyo stadium

TOKYO — Japan's government has approved a plan for a nearly 150 billion yen ($1.5 billion) contract with a joint venture to build a new main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 30th, 2016

Expert panel warns Tokyo Olympics cost could top $30 billion

TOKYO — An expert panel commissioned by Japan's capital city has warned that the total cost for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could exceed 3 trillion yen ($30 billion) unless drastic cost-cutting measures are taken......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 29th, 2016

Philippine karate team eyes stint in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

MANILA -– The Philippine karate team is setting its sights on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.Karate has been included in the calendar of the Tokyo Games along with baseball, softball, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 13th, 2016

Japanese, Davao City businessmen push for Tokyo-Davao direct flights

DAVAO CITY — Japanese investors and the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) are in talks for the opening of direct flights between Tokyo and Davao City. Newly elected DCCCII President Arturo M. Milan, in a media forum Wednesday, said the investors from Japan are involved in the tourism sector. “Nothing is […] The post Japanese, Davao City businessmen push for Tokyo-Davao direct flights appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated News3 hr. 26 min. ago

With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Fil-Am pro cyclist tells kababayans to just keep riding

It’s Coryn Rivera’s third time in the Philippines. However, this time is just the first time the now professional cyclist took her bike out to ride around in her native land. What she saw was nothing but a pleasant surprise. “I didn’t know too much (about the cycling scene) when I got here. I was surprised because I saw around 300 cyclists in Tagaytay,” she told reporters. She then continued, “I was really impressed by that.” Along with that, the 25-year-old, said to be the only cyclist with Filipino roots to be taking part in the European circuit, is nothing but glad to see big cycling events like the one she will be participating in over the weekend. “It’s good that Pru Life UK is doing this. This is a step in the right direction for cycling as a sport here,” she said. Rivera will be riding in the upcoming PRUride PH 2018 from January 11 to 14 in Subic, Zambales. Backed by British life insurer Pru Life UK, PRUride PH 2018 is expected to be one of the biggest cycling events in the country as it will be spread over two areas and span two weekends. These kinds of events, in the professional cyclist’s view, will do nothing but ignite Filipinos’ passion for the spot – just like how her love affair with cycling began when her father would bring her along in group rides as a kid. “When I was 10, I already loved the thrill of speed. Then, I was doing group rides with my parents and their friends,” she shared. Indeed, it was riding their bikes together that was the origins of what is now a successful career for Rivera. “We rode regularly on the tandem (bike) before. Then on our group rides during weekends, she was always drafting on us,” father Wally said. He then continued, “She fell down many times, but she got up many times and just kept following us.” From there, it was clear that cycling was going to be a big part of Coryn’s life. So much so that the five-foot-three American cyclist with Filipino blood has her sights set on the biggest competition of them all. As she put it, “Definitely, my eyes are on the Tokyo 2020 (Olympics).” Together with that high hope, Rivera said she will also make it a point to help her kababayans share her passion for the sport. Asked if she’s planning to visit the Philippines more frequently, she answered, “For sure, especially after seeing how many cyclists there are here. It’s just really exciting to see that.” She then continued, “That’s why I want to continue inspiring people to ride more. The weather here is so nice so it’s a great place to ride.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Kai Sotto, Will Gozum, high school standouts to be ranked in NBTC 24

The SM-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) is already gearing up for the seventh High School All-Star Game this coming March. In doing so, the SM-NBTC will release weekly rankings for high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition.   Every week, a selection committee composed of several reputable sportswriters covering the various high school tourneys including two coaches and one statistician will meet to rank the top 24 players around the country. As such, for the first time ever, players like Ateneo de Manila High School’s SJ Belangel and Kai Sotto, Mapua University’s Will Gozum, La Salle Greenhills’ Joel Cagulangan, and University of Sto. Tomas’ CJ Cansino will be ranked on a weekly leaderboard that may or may not change based on their performance. Criteria for judging includes the following: offense, defense, team record, statisics, impact on team, and level of competition. The eighth and final of these rankings will then be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena.   For program director Eric Altamirano, this is nothing but a step forward for all of Philippine basketball. “SM-NBTC believes that these rankings will make the race to be part of the top 24 high school players more exciting while also making more of people aware of the abundance of talent that’s at hand in the high school level,” he said. The SM-NBTC 24 will be announced every Monday from January 15 to March 5......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

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