Youth Games action starts without Ebola-struck nations

admin   •   August 18, 2014   •   1422

Australia’s Brittany Dutton celebrates after winning the women’s triathlon during the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, August 17, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ALY SONG

(Reuters) – Australian triathlete Brittany Dutton won the first gold of the Youth Olympics as competition kicked-off on Sunday without Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria who withdrew because of the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday they had banned three west African athletes from competing in combat sports and pool events in China as a precaution after the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola which has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in the region.

IOC President Thomas Bach said on Saturday that following the move, taken after discussion with the World Health Organisation, the governments of Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone had opted against allowing their athletes to compete in the 13-day multisport event.

“Two NOCs (Sierra Leone and Liberia) decided together with their government to not come here. We have to respect the decision of the government in such a difficult moment for their country,” the German was quoted as saying by China’s Xinhua news agency.

“We also have been informed that the team of Nigeria wants to go home. Obviously the Nigerian government has decided to send them home.

“We feel sad for the athletes as it will be extremely difficult for them. They already felt the excitement of living in the Village and now they have to leave – that’s a very difficult task.”

Xinhua also quoted an unnamed official of the Youth Olympics Organising Committee saying they were “appreciative of and grateful” that the trio withdrew.

“On behalf of other delegations and their athletes, I hereby extend to them the heart-felt respect,” the report said.

Organizers of the second Youth Olympics were also concerned about adverse weather in Eastern China over the fortnight disrupting competition for the athletes, who are between aged 14 and 18.

“There is the possibility the city could face frequent rainy days, electrical storms and occasional occurrences of haze and possibly typhoons,” the Nanjing 2014 Meteorological Services Command Centre said.

Dutton escaped the weather and haze concerns early on Sunday morning as the 16-year-old rode a brilliant bike leg to force American Stephanie Jenks in to second on her 17th birthday.

Dutton celebrated her win by taking a selfie with former fencer Bach, who had called on athletes to snap pictures of themselves throughout the Games to promote friendship in competition.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

PH diplomatic protest vs China law won’t affect COVID-19 vaccine procurement — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that the diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines, questioning China’s new coast guard law, will not affect the country’s plan to procure vaccines developed by Chinese firms.

“Walang pong epekto yan, dahil ibang usapin naman ang bakuna. Ang bakuna po is actually humanitarian act of the entire planet earth in response to humanitarian disaster,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said Manila filed a protest against Beijing’s move to pass a new law allowing its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

Locsin said that while enacting a law is a sovereign prerogative, the new law – given the area involved which is the South China Sea – is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it.

Malacañang has welcomed the filing of the diplomatic protest, saying that this is consistent with the country’s position that while states can enact laws as part of their sovereignty, this must be done in compliance with the United Nations (UN) charter which prohibits the use of force unless by way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.

“We welcome the diplomatic protest of the DFA, and this will prove that the Philippines is fully committed to the rule of law and will assert all its right available under existing principles of international law to defend its interests,” Roque said.

China’s new law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the disputed waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and three other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

US reaffirms pledge to defend PH vs any attack in South China Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The United States has reaffirmed its pledge to defend the Philippines against any attack in the South China Sea, according to U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price, as published in the US Embassy in the Philippines website.

Price said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on January 27 spoke with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in which the two officials “reaffirmed that a strong U.S.-Philippine Alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Price emphasized America’s rejection of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, reiterating the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of the Philippines and the US.

“Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea,” Price said.

“Secretary Blinken also underscored that the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention,” Price added.

Price also emphasized America’s pledge to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of PRC pressure.

“The two secretaries committed to continue building upon a relationship founded on shared strategic interests and history, democratic values, and strong people-to-people ties,” the official said. -AAC

Philippines protests China’s new law allowing coast guard to fire on foreign vessels

Marje Pelayo   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed a diplomatic protest over China’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire on a foreign vessel in areas it claims in the disputed South China Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin broke out the news in a tweet on Wednesday (January 27).

The new Chinese law was passed and adopted on January 23, 2021, authorizes the China Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

It covers the South China Sea where several Southeast Asian nations are into a territorial conflict.

Locsin said such a law can be likened to a “verbal threat of war” to any country that would defy it.

China’s new legislation is expected to escalate tensions anew among claimants in the disputed territory including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

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