Archive For July 18, 2021

Britney Spears Says She Will Not Perform Under Her Father’s Conservatorship

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Britney Spears Says She Will Not Perform Under Her Father’s Conservatorship

Protesters attend a #FreeBritney Rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The group is calling for an end to the 13-year conservatorship led by the pop star’s father, Jamie Spears, who has control over her finances and business dealings.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Britney Spears says that as long as her father is in charge of conservatorship, she will not be performing “anytime soon.”

Britney Spears made the declaration in the caption of a photo posted to her Instagram account. The artist also addressed people commenting on her videos that frequently feature Britney dancing to music in her home.

“For those of you who choose to criticize my dancing videos … look I’m not gonna be performing on any stages anytime soon with my dad handling what I wear, say, do, or think!!!!” she said in her post.

The artist went on to say that she’s performed the past 13 years under her conservatorship and was not allowed to add new songs or have direction of her shows.

“I’d much rather share videos YES from my living room instead of onstage in Vegas where some people were so far gone they couldn’t even shake my hand and I ended up getting a contact high from weed all the time … which I didn’t mind but it would have been nice to be able to go to the mother f***ing spa,” she wrote.

What Britney Spears said in her conservatorship hearing in June

Her post is the latest statement Spears has made regarding the ongoing legal battle over the conservatorship that’s been in place since 2008.

On June 23, Spears addressed a Los Angeles Superior Court judge asking for an end to the conservatorship that has removed almost all autonomy from her personal and professional life. Parts of the audio from her statement were leaked, including allegations that her team forced her to get an IUD and keep it in place despite her desire to have more children.

Spears also said that her handlers sought retribution after she said she didn’t want to do another show run in Las Vegas. She alleges they worked with her doctor to change her medication and forced her to go to a rehabilitation program in Beverly Hills.

Though Judge Brenda Penny denied Spears’ request to remove her father, Jamie Spears, from the conservatorship in June, Britney was given clearance to hire her own lawyer to represent her in the case. This came after her court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, requested to resign from the case.

Britney Spears’ new lawyer, Hollywood lawyer Mathew Rosengart, said during a hearing last week that he would file a petition to remove Jamie Spears from the conservatorship. The case is set to continue in September.

Her dad isn’t the only person Britney is frustrated with

In her post on Saturday, Britney went on to address other instances that have bothered her over the years, including her younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears performing Britney’s songs at award shows and the inclusion of “humiliating moments from the past” in documentaries. She also said she was hurt and let down by her support system.

YouTube

“I don’t like that my sister showed up at an awards show and performed MY SONGS to remixes !!!!! My so-called support system hurt me deeply !!!! This conservatorship killed my dreams … so all I have is hope and hope is the only thing in this world that is very hard to kill … yet people still try !!!! I didn’t like the way the documentaries bring up humiliating moments from the past … I’m way past all that and have been for a long time !!!!”

Spears ended the post by saying that people didn’t have to follow her on the app and suggested reading a book as an alternative activity for those inclined to criticize her performances.

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U.S. Tennis Star Coco Gauff Tests Positive For Coronavirus And Will Miss Olympics

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U.S. Tennis Star Coco Gauff Tests Positive For Coronavirus And Will Miss Olympics

Coco Gauff, shown here at Wimbledon earlier this month, will not be compete at the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive coronavirus test.

Alastair Grant/AP

Alastair Grant/AP

TOKYO — U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff will no longer lead the U.S. tennis team at the Tokyo Olympics. She has announced that she tested positive for the coronavirus, dashing her hopes of competing in the Games.

“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future,” the 17-year-old said in a statement on her Twitter account.

Gauff was tapped to lead the 12-member group earlier this month, in what will be the first Olympics team in a quarter century without Serena or Venus Williams. Team USA called it a “changing of the guard.”

The U.S. Tennis Association said the “entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco.”

“We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon,” it added, and said it knew she’ll be rooting for her teammates.

Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske will compete for the U.S. in women’s singles.

Gauff did not state whether she has been vaccinated. It’s possible but less likely for vaccinated people to test positive for the coronavirus.

Thousands of athletes, coaches, officials and media are streaming into Tokyo. They go through rigorous coronavirus testing before departing from their home countries and comply with strict protocols upon arrival to maintain separation from the Japanese population and decrease risk of an outbreak.

Still, positive cases are starting to emerge in the Olympic bubble, including two athletes from the same team. Their positive tests on Sunday made them the first known cases of athletes to test positive in the Olympic village.

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Two Athletes Have Tested Positive For COVID-19 Inside The Olympic Village

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Two Athletes Have Tested Positive For COVID-19 Inside The Olympic Village

A staff member guides a taxi at one of the entrances at the Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo.

Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

With less than a week before the opening ceremonies begin at this year’s Tokyo games, at least two players on the South African soccer team have tested positive for COVID-19 inside the Olympic Village.

The two players, Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, are the first athletes to test positive for the coronavirus at the site of the Olympic Village in the Japanese capital. A video analyst for the team, Mario Masha, also tested positive.

All three have been isolated, along with those who were in close contact with them.

Organizers for the games did not name the athletes, but said they were “non-Japanese.” Their test results were confirmed by the South African Football Association.

In a statement, the association said the team has “followed all relevant Olympic Playbook rules, protocols and procedures throughout the pre-Games and Games arrival routines.”

The association also noted that the rest of the team has tested negative.

The players tested negative before leaving for Japan

The team’s chief medical officer, Dr. Phatho Zondi, said every member of Team South Africa tested negative twice using PCR tests within 96 hours of departing for Tokyo.

“The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan,” Dr. Zondi said in the statement. “They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad.”

A fourth member of South Africa’s delegation also tested positive outside of the Olympic Village. Rugby coach Neil Powel went into an isolation facility in Kagashimo, where the country’s Sevens team is completing its training camp.

Olympic organizers also announced on Sunday that a third athlete tested positive, but did not identify the player other than to say they are not staying in the Olympic Village and are also “non-Japanese,” according to the Associated Press.

Worry is growing in Japan as positive results appear

The announcement of the new cases comes at a moment of deep trepidation inside Japan about the wisdom of holding the games, with Tokyo already under its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began. With vaccination rates in the country lagging behind those in the United States and much of Europe, there are fears that an influx of thousands from around the world could spark new outbreaks. The state of emergency will mean no spectators during the games inside the capital, but even without international fans, more than 18,000 people are expected to come in for the games.

Though the results announced Sunday are the first cases to appear in athletes, there are growing concerns that others will test positive before competition begins later this week.

So far, more than 45 people affiliated with the Games have tested positive since the beginning of July, most of them contractors. That includes Ryu Seung-min of South Korea, who on Saturday became the first member of the the International Olympic Committee to test positive upon arrival in Tokyo.

What precautions are in place

Originally scheduled for July 2020, the games were postponed due to the pandemic, giving organizers time to try and put measure in place to keep athletes, staff and locals safe.

Japanese officials and officials with the Olympic organizing committee have been trying to limit interactions between people who live in Japan and the athletes and others who are coming in for the games.

Those coming in for the games, including journalists, are being separated from everyone else upon arrival to Tokyo. They must have received two negative tests prior to flying in and are given another test upon arrival. While in mandated quarantine, they are tested once a day to make sure they are not positive.

While there are safety measures in place, the majority of Japanese citizens have said they don’t want the games to go forward. Less than a quarter of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Leila Fadel contributed to this report.

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Tadej Pogačar Has Won His 2nd Tour De France In A Row

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Tadej Pogačar Has Won His 2nd Tour De France In A Row

Slovenian Tadej Pogačar celebrates on the podium on July 15 after stage 18 of the Tour de France. Pogačar went on to take his second victory in a row.

Pete Goding/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Goding/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

Slovenian powerhouse Tadej Pogačar officially claimed his second Tour de France victory on Sunday after dominating the field for most of the race’s three weeks.

Pogačar, 22, pulled ahead in the general classification standings on a rainy stage eight and never gave up the leading rider’s yellow jersey, winning three of the race’s 21 stages.

Last year, Pogačar came to an unexpected victory after his rival Primož Roglič faltered in the penultimate stage time trial. At the time he was the youngest winner of the Tour in 116 years.

“I can’t compare both Tour de France victories, I can’t say which one is more beautiful,” Pogačar said, according to The Associated Press. “This time, I took the yellow jersey quite earlier. It has been totally different.”

Twenty-four-year-old Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard finished second overall, with Ecuadorian star Richard Carapaz, age 28, finishing third. Carapaz is the first Ecuadorian to ever finish in the top three in the Tour’s history.

Pogačar was a favorite to win going into the race. Roglič, also of Slovenia, was another favorite but was caught up in multiple crashes early in the race and dropped out to recover from his injuries.

Mark Cavendish resurrects his cycling career

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish, 36, a native of the Isle of Man, resurrected a career that had seemed to be on a downturn, winning four stages of the Tour.

Mark Cavendish, pictured on his fourth win of this year’s Tour de France on July 9, matched the record Tour wins of the legend Eddy Merckx.

Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

In doing so, Cavendish reached a total of 34 Tour de France stage wins in his career, matching the record set between 1969 and 1975 by Eddy Merckx, who is generally considered the greatest cyclist of all time.

Cavendish broke out in tears after his first win of this year’s Tour, his first in five years. He was only selected to be on the team at the last minute after another rider’s injury.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back to this race,” he said in an emotional post-race interview.

“I don’t know what to say man”

First words from the 🇮🇲 Manx Missile, fresh from a 31st stage win. @MarkCavendish#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/9tMygrixNA

— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) June 29, 2021

American Sepp Kuss breaks through

And this year American audiences also saw the first American win a stage of the Tour since 2011: Sepp Kuss of Durango, Colo.

Sepp Kuss became the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France since 2011 this year, with a win in the 15th stage on July 11.

Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images

Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images

“He’s been tremendous,” writer Patrick Redford of the website Defector told All Things Considered. “I mean, he’s 26 years old, so some people are potentially talking him up as the next American winner of the Tour. He’s looked incredibly strong.”

Several of the riders from the Tour are now readying to travel to Tokyo, where they’ll take part in this year’s Olympics.

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What It Takes To Get To Tokyo To Cover The Olympics

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What It Takes To Get To Tokyo To Cover The Olympics

A flight attendant walks by a large display of Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Narita International Airport on Thursday in Narita, east of Tokyo.

Kiichiro Sato/AP

Kiichiro Sato/AP

TOKYO — When anyone traveling to Japan for the Olympics touches down in Tokyo, they are immediately separated from everyone else on their plane and whisked away to complete hours of COVID-19 testing and other entry procedures.

Then, at least for journalists, three days of strict quarantine begins. The hotel that NPR journalists are staying in has barely enough floor space to open a suitcase.

These are just a few of the safety measures journalists arriving for the games must go through in order to maintain separation from the Japanese population, as coronavirus cases rise and Tokyo is under a state of emergency.

The strict protocols, detailed in a playbook that’s 68 pages long, are understandable at a time when Japan has only been able to vaccinate a small fraction of its citizens. About 20 percent are fully vaccinated.

The safety protocols start before takeoff

Getting into Japan involves a vast array of strict safety requirements that start days before takeoff. Journalists were supposed to be checking their own temperatures and uploading them to a special app – which did not work at all for some of our group of five, and only worked the day we left for others.

We had to get two negative COVID-19 tests in the four days before departing – and each needed to find clinics in our respective cities that do the required type of test and would sign the Japanese government form.

A mostly empty plane flies from Atlanta to Tokyo on Friday.

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

For the first 14 days in Japan, journalists are not allowed to leave the Olympic “bubble” and must submit an “activity plan” to the local organizers detailing everywhere we plan to go.

Some of the many forms people traveling to Japan must be prepared to show upon arrival.

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

We can sign out of the hotel for a maximum of 15 minutes, but longer could mean we are expelled from the country, and an app on our phones is tracking our every move to make sure we don’t break quarantine. The app is also used for coronavirus contact tracing.

The flight from Atlanta to Tokyo was eerily empty, which just a few dozen seats occupied on a large plane.

Olympians pass through strict checkpoints at the airport

After landing, everyone arriving for the Olympics passed through at least nine checkpoints at the airport, where cheerful staff members ask for a different combination of the many forms we have printed out.

Long lines of people arriving for the Olympics wait to pass through an array of safety protocols at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

The long lines are filled with other journalists, officials and athletes – we spot members of the Italian, German, Armenian and Namibian teams, to name just a few. This may be the only time we can get this close to any of the athletes, since there are so many restrictions.

We each spit into a plastic vial for a final COVID-19 test before entering Japan. All of us test negative again – though on this day, Saturday, at least seven others in Japan for the Olympics tested positive and were whisked into isolation.

It takes more than three hours to complete all the protocols from the time our flight touches down to departure from the airport. That’s significantly less time than many others we’ve talked to.

We board a bus that drives us through this very large city filled with high rises, to a terminal where we are driven – individually — in special taxi cabs, to our hotel. My taxi driver very politely asks that I respect the three day quarantine, and I assure him that I will.

The tiny room feels kind of like a sleeper car on a train. On Wednesday, we’ll finally be allowed to take Olympic shuttles to the venues.

Breakfast in quarantine at our hotel in Tokyo.

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

Merrit Kennedy/NPR

The hotel serves breakfast, and otherwise we eat whatever we can get delivered or find in the convenience store attached to the building.

We’re not complaining. It’s an honor to be here, despite all the challenges. Our experience just illustrates what it takes to hold the largest event in sports in the middle of a global pandemic.

NPR’s Mandalit del Barco contributed to this report.

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