After India’s G20 summit and the UN General Assembly this month, world leaders will attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Marrakesh, before heading to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai. But there is little optimism that these summits will deliver meaningful progress in tackling our greatest challenges, not because of any lack of resolve, but because the global rulebook we have been following since the end of World War II is no longer fit for purpose.The world’s growing fragmentation was confirmed at the G20 summit. Though the meeting signalled India’s arrival as a major power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s moment of triumph was fleeting. The summit did little to prevent the 2020s from almost certainly becoming a low-growth decade.Despite the African Union’s admission as a full member of the G20, the Global South received scant relief for its crushing debts. And though G20 members are responsible for 75% of global carbon emissions, the summit failed to address the scale of the climate financing gap. Acting on the findings of the G20’s Capital Adequacy Review, the Biden administration has committed to secure an additional $25bn for the World Bank; but that figure falls far short of the $260bn annual fillip that former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence H Summers recommended in the Singh-Summers report to the G20 this year.Instead, the summit concludes a year in which China and the West have been erecting new “iron curtains” in technology, trade, investment, and data – foreshadowing a future of “one world, two systems.”With this new protectionism came a downgrading of the G20. Whereas former US president Barack Obama recognised the G20 as the premier forum for global economic cooperation, current US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan sees the G7 (Europe, America, and Japan) as the “steering committee of the free world.”The G20’s relegation is a by-product of the shift from a unipolar to a multipolar world, from a hyper-globalised economy to one that might be called “globalisation lite,” and from neoliberalism toward neo-mercantilism. For the last 30 years, economics determined political decision-making. Now politics – and nationalist politics at that – is driving policymaking. Zero-sum politics is triumphing over “win-win” economics.In 1999, American hegemony was at its peak, and the US Federal Reserve and US Treasury were happy to be called “the committee to save the world.”When the global economy unravelled in 2008, the United Kingdom and others called on G20 member-state heads of government to come together for the first time. At the London G20 in 2009, UK was keen that China join with the West in buttressing the global economy with $1tn of support. The world was heading in a more multipolar direction.The London summit also commissioned India’s then-prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to oversee a review of the prevailing international architecture. Then, at the Pittsburgh summit in the Fall of 2009, the G20 agreed on a global compact for growth, to be spearheaded by the IMF, which would publish annual assessments to identify both the risks facing the global economy and the opportunities for coordinated action.But as the West retreated into austerity policies and embraced new forms of protectionism, these initiatives fizzled out. Under Donald Trump, the United States broke from its tradition of (usually) acting multilaterally, and pursued unilateralism even as a multipolar world was coming into play.However, climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the energy and food crisis of 2022 confirm that the issues we face today are truly global problems in need of global solutions. Progress cannot be achieved by bilateral and regional interventions alone; it requires globally coordinated action.In elevating the G7 at the expense of the G20, we need to ask what happens the next time there is a global financial crisis and we cannot find a way to bring all the major players together. What chance will we have of progress in reducing global emissions and preventing “free riders” in a world of “everyone for himself”? What chance do we have of dealing with global inequality if countries see the world only in terms of “us versus them,” and where there are no forums in which to find common ground?These rare moments where preparation meets opportunity are when we must act together. Today’s leaders must not wait for a catastrophe before being forced into action.
China won the first gold medal of the Hangzhou Asian Games and then cleaned up in the swimming events yesterday, breaking several records in the process.By the end of a highly successful day one for the hosts, they had pocketed 20 of 31 golds, with South Korea their nearest challengers with five.China’s medal rush began when Zou Jiaqi and Qiu Xiuping dominated the women’s lightweight double sculls rowing for the first gold of the Games, finishing almost 10 seconds ahead of Uzbekistan.It was especially satisfying for Zou, who hails from Hangzhou.“I am very excited as it’s my first Asian Games,” she said, clutching her gold medal.The home nation won six of the seven golds at the Fuyang Water Sports Centre rowing venue with only Hong Kong’s Lam San-tung and Wong Wai-chun getting in on the party by winning the men’s pairs.More golds rolled in for China in shooting, modern pentathlon, wushu and artistic gymnastics, in which they triumphed in the men’s team event.But they saved the best for last, in swimming, in what is always one of the most prestigious events at the Games and has extra significance with the Paris Olympics less than a year away.Olympic champion Zhang Yufei was among the winners as China romped home in all seven races on the opening night in the pool, smashing a slew of Asian records.Zhang successfully defended her 200m butterfly crown, cruising to victory ahead of teammate Yu Liyan in a new Games-record time of 2min 05.57sec.That has been bettered this year only by Canadian star Summer McIntosh and Australia’s Lizzie Dekkers, as Zhang builds towards defending her Olympic title in Paris.“I felt I could have gone even faster,” she warned.“My first mission was to take the gold for China. Next was to beat Jiao Liuyang’s Games record, and I also did that.“I actually felt the pool was a little slow for me and I told my coach that I wasn’t feeling in good form.”The first official day of the 19th Asian Games also saw medals handed out in fencing, judo and taekwondo.Hong Kong’s Edgar Cheung, already a hero to many in the southern Chinese city, added Asian Games gold to the one he won at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago in the men’s foil.Two of South Korea’s five golds came in taekwondo, with Kang Wan-jin winning the men’s individual poomsae and Cha Yea-eun doing likewise in the women’s event.Other sports beginning on Sunday included boxing, rugby sevens, hockey and eSports – where superstars such as South Korea’s “Faker” are expected to draw huge crowds for its debut as a full Asian Games medal event.President Xi Jinping opened the Games on Saturday night after a delay of a year because of China’s now-abandoned zero-Covid policy. With more than 12,000 competitors from 45 nations and territories, the Asian Games has more participants than the Olympics.They will battle for medals in 40 sports across 54 venues.Most events take place in Hangzhou, a city of 12mn people near Shanghai, but some sports are being staged in cities as far afield as Wenzhou, 300 kilometres (186 miles) to the south.
The 19th Asian Games was declared open by Chinese President Xi Jinping after a colourful ceremony in Hangzhou on Saturday, launching a two-week sporting extravaganza that boasts more athletes than the Olympics.After being delayed by a year because of China’s now-abandoned zero-Covid policy, more than 12,000 competitors from 45 nations and territories will battle it out in 40 sports.Led by their flag bearers in triathlete Tamim Jamal al-Kuwari and dressage rider Maryam al-Buainain, Qatar’s contingent walked out into the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic stadium, with Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani watching from the stands.The opening ceremony was also attended by Second Vice-President of the QOC Dr Thani bin Abdul Rahman al-Kuwari, Secretary-General Jassim bin Rashid al-Buainain and other officials.Qatar has sent a strong 185-athlete contingent, who will compete in 27 events: archery, athletics, basketball, boxing, chess, cycling, electronic sports, equestrian, football, fencing, gymnastics, golf, handball, jiu-jitsu, karate, windsurfing, squash, swimming, tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, table tennis, volleyball, 3×3 basketball, beach volleyball and weightlifting.Qatar – which won 13 medals, including 6 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze at 2018 Asiad in Jakarta and Palembang – is hoping for its best medal haul ever. The nation’s strongest gold medal hope is from Olympic champions – Mutaz Barshim in high jump and Fares Ibrahim in weightlifting. The handball and volleyball team and beach volleyball pair Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan are also strong contenders for gold.Today, the spikers face Pakistan in the quarter-finals, while the 2018 gold medallists Younousse and Tijan take on Oman’s Haitham al-Shereiqi and Ahmed al-Hosni in the round of 16 at the Ningbo Banbianshan Court. Qatar’s second beach volleyball duo Mahmoud Essam and Abdullah Naseem are also up against a Chinese pair in the last 16.The handball team will play their first Group B match against Hong Long at the Zhejiang Gongshang University Sports Centre, as they gear up to defend the gold they have won in the last two editions. Qatar athletes will also be in action today in swimming, tennis, fencing, Esports and taekwondo.high-tech opening ceremonyMeanwhile, the opening ceremony in the Eastern city of Hangzhou was spectacular and at times raucous, which organisers hope will lift the mood in a nation struggling with an economic slump.Spectators in the city’s 80,000-capacity stadium let out a huge roar as Xi was introduced and walked in to sit with visiting dignitaries including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.“Finally we can gather for the 19th Asian Games,” Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia, told the crowd to more cheers. “The one-year postponement was unprecedented in OCA history,” he added.After the Chinese flag was brought out, the first team out was Afghanistan, whose female athletes, based abroad due to sport for women being banned by the Taliban, walked together with their male counterparts. Their flagbearers carried the tri-colour flag for Afghanistan which is used by international resistance movements and shunned by the Taliban.Several teams including Chinese Taipei were vocally welcomed by the spectators, but none more than the home team, whose athletes are expected to dominate the medals table once again.They also mark a stark contrast to the cheerless Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics which took place under China’s strict zero-Covid conditions which lasted for nearly three years from January 2020 until late 2022. In an often spell-binding ceremony intended to burnish Hangzhou’s status as one of China’s centres of technology and creativity, dozens of balletic dancers hovered above a digitally-projected lake in the wake of a flotilla of sail-boards.In a modern take on the traditional lighting of the cauldron, a huge, digitally animated torchbearer “ran” the length of the stadium before settling to loom above the actual torch-bearer, China’s Olympic champion swimmer Wang Shun.In synch, the pair lit a huge, multi-pronged cauldron, prompting another bout of cheering and soon after, a digital firework display. But many of those not lucky enough to get a ticket grumbled about disruption.A sizeable “traffic control area” around the city’s Olympic stadium were blocked off, at least one metro station was shut and other Games centres were closed and deliveries were disrupted on Saturday.Organisers have not disclosed spending on the Games, though the Hangzhou government has said it spent more than 200bn yuan ($30bn) in the five years through 2020 on transport infrastructure, stadiums, accommodation and other facilities.Organisers hoped a high-tech opening ceremony on Saturday will help drum up excitement for the Games. Interest at home has been muted as the economy sputters and some question the cost of hosting the mega-event.Dozens of smiling volunteers greeted arriving journalists in Hangzhou this week, with some expressing relief that the event was finally getting started. The official slogan of the event, “Heart to Heart, @Future”, represents the goal of uniting the people and countries of Asia through these games, officials have said, but geopolitical tensions and rivalries threatened to overshadow that effort this week.ESports to make Asiad debutESports will make its debut as a medal event at the Games, in what is seen as a step towards inclusion in the Olympics. There will also be regional specialities including dragon boat racing, the Chinese martial art wushu and kabaddi.Nine sports – among them boxing, break dancing and tennis – will serve as Asia qualifiers for next year’s Paris Olympics. A sprinkling of world and Olympic champions adds some stardust, including India’s javelin king Neeraj Chopra, Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and Chinese swimming royalty Qin Haiyang and Zhang Yufei.Olympic Council of Asia honorary life vice-president Wei Jizhong said having so many sporting disciplines was about giving opportunity to as many athletes as possible. “We are open to all. This means our Games are not concentrated only for elite sportspeople,” he said.Although the Games officially opened on Saturday, sports such as football, cricket, volleyball and table tennis had already begun.The Games will be staged at 54 venues – 14 newly constructed – mostly in Hangzhou but also extending to cities as far afield as Wenzhou, 300 kilometres (180 miles) south.
IOC president Thomas Bach forecast a “shift in the world towards Asia in sport”, after Saturday’s Asian Games opening ceremony. The International Olympic Committee chief visited athletes in Hangzhou after meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who vowed to work with the IOC on upholding the “non-politicisation” of sport. That meeting came as a diplomatic row erupted between Beijing and New Delhi over three Indian athletes who have not made the Games because of visa issues. Bach said the biggest-ever Asiad, which was officially opened on Saturday by Xi, would “set new standards in many different respects”.“We have here a great number of new sports, we see an organisation which is making use of all the digital expertise which China and Hangzhou has to offer,” he said.More than 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and territories are taking part in Hangzhou, making it bigger than the Olympics. Bach acknowledged China’s growing importance to the Olympic movement. Beijing hosted 2008 Summer Games and 2022 Winter Olympics, albeit in a Covid-secure “bubble”.“The cooperation with the Chinese Olympic Committee is going very well and in many international federations China is playing an ever growing and more important role,” he said. “This is greatly appreciated because we see an overall shift in the world towards Asia in sport.”Stimac backs India to overcome ‘big problem’India’s football coach Igor Stimac has had to change his squad list seven times since first announcing it for the Hangzhou Asian Games, with a lack of available players also proving an issue for other nations. The multi-sport event is outside FIFA’s international window so clubs are not compelled to release players, with Afghanistan and Syria pulling out before the Games even started.That left Hong Kong and Uzbekistan as the only two teams remaining in Group C, so both qualified for the next round without kicking a ball. Croatian former international defender Stimac, who enjoyed spells with Derby County and West Ham as a player, said it was a “big problem”.“Twenty-one out of 22 players from my (initial) list are not here today,” he said after they crashed 5-1 to China to start their campaign. They recovered to beat Bangladesh 1-0 and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds, despite several players only arriving for that game just before kick-off.“This (squad) is my seventh list that has been changed and prepared to bring a team over here,” said Stimac, who was part of the Croatian team that finished third at the 1998 World Cup.“I understand perfectly well how difficult it is because (Indian) clubs are not under pressure to release their players. But I’m happy because I see that some teams pulled out at the last minute (as) they couldn’t get enough players, like Afghanistan, like Syria and it’s a big problem for the whole tournament now.”Despite the disrupted preparation Stimac urged his team to keep their “chins up”. “Once we are all together with a full squad we’re going to make problems to anyone in Asia. Believe me,” he said. They face Myanmar on Sunday.
The QOC President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani attended the opening ceremony of Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday declared the 19th Asian Games open in Hangzhou, after an environmentally friendly opening ceremony paving the way for an event that will see the participation of 12,000 athletes from 45 countries.Qatar is participating in the tournament with a delegation of 185 male and female athletes competing in 27 sport events: archery, athletics, basketball, boxing, chess, cycling, e-sports, equestrian, football, fencing, gymnastics, golf, handball, jiu-jitsu, karate, windsurfing, squash, swimming, tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, table tennis, volleyball, 33 basketball, beach volleyball, weightlifting, and bow and arrow.Athletes from 45 countries are participating in the tournament, competing for 481 gold medals that will be distributed in 40 different sports, nine of which will qualify for the Summer Olympic Games scheduled in the French capital, Paris, next year.This is the third time that China has hosted the Asian Games after Beijing 1990 and Guangzhou 2010. The tournament was scheduled for the summer of 2022, but was postponed to this year due to the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.Qatar won 13 medals including 6 gold medals in addition to 4 silver medals and 3 bronze medals in the last Asian Games which were held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia in 2018. (QNA)
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Covid-delayed 19th Asian Games in the Eastern city of Hangzhou during a spectacular and at times raucous ceremony on Saturday, which organisers hope will lift the mood in a nation struggling with an economic slump.Spectators in the city's 80,000 capacity stadium let out a huge roar as Xi was introduced and walked in to sit with visiting dignitaries including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.The Games, delayed a year due to China's measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, will be the country's biggest sporting event in over a decade in several metrics, with around 12,000 athletes from 45 nations competing in 40 sports.After the Chinese flag was brought out, the first team out was Afghanistan, whose female athletes, based abroad due to sport for women being banned by the Taliban, walked together with their male counterparts. Their flagbearers carried the tri-colour flag for Afghanistan which is used by international resistance movements and shunned by the Taliban.Several teams including Chinese Taipei were vocally welcomed by the spectators, but none more than the home team, whose athletes are expected to dominate the medals table once again.They also mark a stark contrast to the cheerless Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics which took place under China's strict zero COVID conditions which lasted for nearly three years from January 2020 until late 2022."I feel excited, particularly as a Hangzhou local," said a man surnamed Zhao on his way into the stadium. "It's a great chance to show the world how nice our city is... it was also delayed by a year. But that gave us a chance to prepare even better."In an often spell-binding ceremony intended to burnish Hangzhou's status as one of China's centres of technology and creativity, dozens of balletic dancers hovered above a digitally-projected lake in the wake of a flotilla of sail-boards.In a modern take on the traditional lighting of the cauldron, a huge, digitally animated torchbearer "ran" the length of the stadium before settling to loom above the actual torch-bearer, China's Olympic champion swimmer Wang Shun.In synch, the pair lit a huge, multi-pronged cauldron, prompting another bout of cheering and soon after, a digital firework display.But many of those not lucky enough to get a ticket grumbled about disruption.A sizeable "traffic control area" around the city's Olympic stadium were blocked off, at least one metro station was shut and other Games centres were closed and deliveries were disrupted on Saturday.Some felt the security measures, always tight wherever Xi goes for a visit, were overdone."I think it shows they're too nervous, right?", said 45-year-old Hangzhou resident Li Jian. "I think we should be a little more confident."One local social media user was told due to safety rules surrounding the Games a pencil sharpener they had ordered could not be delivered."How dangerous is the sharpener?," the user wrote. "Will I be able to use it to kill foreign country leaders?"Organisers have not disclosed spending on the Games, though the Hangzhou government has said it spent more than 200 billion yuan ($30 billion) in the five years through 2020 on transport infrastructure, stadiums, accommodation and other facilities.Organisers hoped a high-tech opening ceremony on Saturday will help drum up excitement for the Games. Interest at home has been muted as the economy sputters and some question the cost of hosting the mega-event.Dozens of smiling volunteers greeted arriving journalists in Hangzhou this week, with some expressing relief that the event was finally getting started.The official slogan of the event, "Heart to Heart, @Future", represents the goal of uniting the people and countries of Asia through these games, officials have said, but geopolitical tensions and rivalries threatened to overshadow that effort this week.Xi called on the West to lift sanctions on Syria and offered Beijing's help in rebuilding the war-shattered country on Friday during rare talks with the long-ostracised Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.Also on Friday, India protested over a visa issue that affected three of its athletes at the games, leading India's sports minister Anurag Thakur to cancel his trip.Japan's top government spokesperson said on Tuesday that Tokyo would do its utmost to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in China as the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea has chilled ties."We should promote peace through sports, adhere to the principle of goodwill towards neighbours and mutual benefit and... resist the cold war mentality and confrontation between camps," Xi told dignitaries including Bach and Assad at a banquet before the ceremony on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Qatar National Bank (QNB) anticipated that the increasing and unprecedented levels of debt may lead to significant and long-term risks that may limit the growth of the global economy during the coming period due to financial restrictions imposed on companies, and potential vulnerabilities in emerging markets.Qatar National Bank (QNB) in its weekly commentary that the Covid-19 pandemic represented a negative shock of unprecedented magnitude to the global economy, causing the sharpest contraction in activity ever recorded in quarterly national accounts. In response, extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies were put in place to provide support to households and firms, to preserve the economies from a deeper potential collapse. Low interest rates and quantitative easing from central banks, combined with expansionary fiscal policy, fueled unprecedented credit growth. This resulted in skyrocketing public and private debt across the world, adding to the trend that had begun with the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Since then, government debt has more than doubled to reach USD 85.7 trillion, while total global debt stands at USD 304.9 trillion.Debt levels are not only high by historical standards, they are also expected to continue to rise broadly around the world. In the context of high and rising interest rates, debt becomes even more relevant as a potential drag to GDP growth. In QNB's view, to understand the overall debt dynamics and the risks they pose for long-run growth, it is important to break down the origin of debt increases, as well as to differentiate between advanced economies (AE) and emerging markets (EM). First, rising debt levels in AE are mostly accounted for by the deterioration of public sector accounts and the need to fund ever growing deficits. In 2023, total government debt in AE reached USD 59.7 trillion, an increase of 60% relative to the USD 37.4 trillion after the GFC, equivalent to 113.6% of global GDP.High government debt levels in AE are set to harm growth by diverting resources away from investment. As governments increase their borrowing, the issues of new debt compete with the private sector for a given amount of savings available. As a result, real interest rates increase, which can "crowd out" private investment, and therefore limit economic growth.Second, elevated corporate ineptness combined with higher interest rates can create a "debt overhang" problem that hinders investment by firms. The Covid-19 pandemic generated a massive disruption in economic activity that impacted sales and profits of firms around the world. In order to keep firms operational and contain the destruction of jobs, governments implemented injections of liquidity through loan guarantees as well as new lines of credit. Although, total debt in nonfinancial corporations as share of GDP has declined from its peaks during 2020 in both AE and EM, they are still above their pre-pandemic levels. Now, in a scenario with higher interest rates and tighter credit standards, this can result in a "debt overhang" in firms, where they will find it harder to obtain funding for new investments. Third, an assessment of debt dynamics in EM requires a further differentiation between China and other EM. In the period from Q1-2010 to Q1-2023, China accounted for 65% of the growth in government debt, and 76% of growth in nonfinancial private debt in EM. In China, debt had a very particular form, as the country benefited from abundant domestic savings, the debt was mostly financed by residents in local currency. This prevents the country from suffering the standard balance of payment pressures that affect other EM during periods of economic stress. Hence, China is better positioned to engineer a deleveraging process in the future.In contrast, debt in other EM tends to have a funding profile with more significant participation of external funding, or in hard currencies from advanced economies, making them vulnerable to external shocks and "sudden-stops" in capital inflows. Such vulnerability could be even more pronounced in the current scenario, where tighter monetary policy in major advanced economies pulls capital away from riskier EM. In the past, debt crisis in EM were triggered by sharp increases in international interest rates. High levels of debt now leave the more risky EM exposed to financial distress that can make refinancing difficult, and result in a crisis that resembles previous experiences.All in all, unprecedented and rising debt levels pose significant risks to the global economy going forward, through the diversion of funds from productive investments, financial constraints in the corporate sector, and potential vulnerabilities in EM. (QNA)
Qatar’s volleyball team entered the quarter-finals, while the beach volleyball pair Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan reached the last 16 at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China on Friday.Qatar’s volleyball team secured a convincing 3-1 (25-23, 18-25, 25-19, 25-17) win over Bahrain in the pre-quarters at the China Textile City Sports Centre Gymnasium. The spikers, who had earlier defeated Thailand and Hong Kong, will face Pakistan in the quarter-finals tomorrow. Pakistan beat fancied South Korea in the pre-quarters earlier on Friday.Meanwhile, 2018 gold medallists Younousse and Tijan crushed the Philippines Alnakran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton 21-9, 21-7 in their last Group B match on Friday and sealed their place in the last 16.The top seeds had little trouble in getting past their opponents and look in fine form to defend their gold. Qatar’s second pair Mahmoud Essam and Abdullah Naseem had on Thursday booked their place in the round of 16.Meanwhile, Qatar U-23 football squad were held to a goalless draw by Palestine at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou on Friday. Qatar, who were outclassed by Japan 1-3 in their opening match, failed to breach the defence of Palestine. After Friday’s draw, Qatar are third place in three-team Group D.The top two teams from the six groups qualify for the round of 16, along with four best third-placed teams. Qatari hopes of qualifying for the next round depends on the result between Palestine and Japan. If Japan, who have already sealed their place in the last 16, beat Palestine by more than two goals then Qatar will qualify as the second best team. A draw or loss by one goal will be sufficient for Palestine to progress. Friday, Qatar was the better side for most of the match and created many opportunities but did not succeed in translating any of them into goals.Al-Attiyah and al-Buainain to carry Qatar’s flag at opening ceremonyMeanwhile, rally champion and shooter Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah and women’s dressage star Maryam al-Buainain will carry Qatar’s flag today at the opening ceremony, which will officially open the Asian Games in Hangzhou.Al-Attiyah is undoubtedly a legend in Qatar sport. Besides his exploits in rallying, he has also won bronze at the skeet competition at the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Al-Buainain has proved her talent in dressage, having competed in international events and secured commendable results.Qatar has sent 185 male and female athletes, who will compete in 27 sports: archery, athletics, basketball, boxing, chess, cycling, electronic sports, equestrian, football, fencing, gymnastics, golf, handball, jiu-jitsu, karate, windsurfing, squash, swimming, tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, table tennis, volleyball, 3×3 basketball, beach volleyball and weightlifting.With more than 12,000 athletes from 45 nations competing across a whopping programme of 40 sports, the Games will be China’s first mega-event since last year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, which were held under strict Covid protocols.Following the scrapping of China’s “zero-Covid” policy in late-2022, Hangzhou promises to be a more festive event and a welcome diversion from the property market woes and high youth unemployment that have dogged the domestic economy.Fans, athletes and officials will move freely between shiny, new stadiums in Hangzhou and five other Yangtze River Delta cities in one of the country’s most prosperous regions.Like the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, local organisers will hope Hangzhou can showcase the nation’s strength and that home athletes will put China top of the medals table as they have done at the last 10 editions.Given the quality throughout China’s 886-strong delegation, there should be little doubt of the latter, at least. The Games’ novelty factor will instead lie in new competitions, even if some stretch the definition of sport to its limits.Organisers have jumped aboard the Olympics’ youth push, adding breakdancing – or ‘breaking’ – to the programme a year out from its Olympic debut at Paris. Esports will be a medal event for the first time after being a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.Celebrity gamers like South Korea’s Lee Sang-hyeok, better known as ‘Faker’, will compete for seven esports golds across seven titles, including ‘League of Legends’ and ‘FIFA Online 4’.After being dropped from the 2018 programme, cricket returns at Hangzhou in the Twenty20 format to give the sport another push before its expected addition to the Olympics for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Cricket powerhouse India will be busy preparing for the 50-overs World Cup starting in October but will send men’s and women’s squads to the Asian Games for the first time in a coup for Hangzhou.Nine of the sports in Hangzhou come with the additional prize of qualification for the Olympics including archery, boxing, breaking, hockey, sailing, tennis and water polo. Some of the events lack big names due to scheduling clashes but there is a sprinkling of stardust in swimming, athletics and gymnastics, and heaps of it in the table tennis, badminton and weightlifting competitions, Asia’s traditional strengths.China’s butterfly queen Zhang Yufei will bid for a fourth gold in the pool at her third Asian Games to add to her two Olympic and two world titles. The hosts’ newly crowned women’s world number one golfer Yin Ruoning will tee off in the individual and team events, five years after taking a team bronze for China at Jakarta. Indian fans will cheer on their first Olympic athletics champion when Neeraj Chopra throws in the javelin.
The Asian Games officially kick off today in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, a year later than planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are some of the top athletes looking to lay down a marker a year out from the Paris Olympics:MUTAZ BARSHIM - Athletics, high jumpWell before Barshim claimed Qatar’s first Olympic track and field gold medal at the Tokyo Games - famously shared with Italian Gianmarco Tamberi - the rangy son of Sudanese parents was dominating the Asian Games as a teenager.Hangzhou will be his second Asian Games in China, having won the event at Guangzhou in 2010 as a 19-year-old and then defending the title four years later at Incheon.Owner of the second highest jump in history (2.43m), the 32-year-old claimed the world titles at London (2017), Doha (2019) and Eugene (2022). He took bronze in his recent title defence at Budapest despite having an off-night by his lofty standards.NEERAJ CHOPRA- Athletics, javelinChopra ended India’s long wait for an Olympic champion in track and field when he threw 87.58m at the Tokyo Games. He also became India’s second individual Olympic gold medallist, 13 years after Abhinav Bindra won shooting gold at Beijing in 2008.He proved Tokyo was no fluke by throwing 88.17m in Budapest in August to become India’s first athletics world champion, pipping Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem for the gold.An officer in the Indian army, 25-year-old Chopra is the reigning Asian Games champion and will battle Nadeem again in his title defence.QIN HAIYANG- SwimmingChina’s Qin stormed to an unprecedented treble in the men’s 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke at July’s world championships in Fukuoka and also set the 200m world record (2:05.48), smashing the previous mark set by Australia’s Olympic champion Zac Stubblety-Cooke.The 24-year-old is now gunning for British great Adam Peaty’s 100m world record (56.88 seconds) as he gears up for the Paris Olympics. Qin will look to repeat the Fukuoka treble in front of home fans in Hangzhou and also win the 200m individual medley, having taken bronze in the event at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.YIN RUONING- GolfEven at just 20, Yin is no stranger to the Asian Games, the recently crowned women’s world number one having won team bronze as a teenage schoolgirl at Jakarta in 2018.China’s second world number one, following in the footsteps of Feng Shanshan, Yin heads into the Asian Games in fine form, having claimed her first major win at the Women’s PGA Championship in June, less than three months after her maiden LPGA Tour win at the LA Open. Coached by Feng, who won Olympic bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, Yin will compete in both the individual and women’s team events at the West Lake International Golf Course.‘FAKER’ - EsportsSouth Korea’s Lee Sang-hyeok, better known by his gaming handle ‘Faker’, will be one of the biggest drawcards at Hangzhou as esports makes its Asian Games debut as a medal event, having been a demonstration sport at Jakarta.Dubbed the ‘Michael Jordan of esports’, the 27-year-old’s pursuit is ‘League of Legends’, a multi-player online battle arena game which he has dominated in competition for much of the past decade. A long-serving member of South Korean professional gaming team T1, high school drop-out Faker will anchor his nation’s bid for gold in League’s team event at Hangzhou.BAKHODIR JALOLOV- BoxingTowering southpaw Jalolov won the super-heavyweight gold at the Tokyo Olympics, beating American Richard Torrez Jnr with an unanimous points decision in the final, to continue Uzbekistan’s history of punching above its weight in global boxing.Jalolov, who carried Uzbekistan’s flag at the last two Summer Olympics, has built an unbeaten 13-0 record as a professional. He will be strongly favoured to win gold in the super-heavyweight (+92kg) division in Hangzhou on the way to defending his Olympic gold at Paris next year.
Qatar participated in the high-level meeting on universal health coverage at the UN General Assembly.Qatar was represented at the meeting by HE the Minister of Public Health and Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari. The meeting endorsed a political declaration to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage by 2030.Speaking at the meeting, HE Dr al-Kuwari said: "The Political Declaration on Achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is a strong foundation for accelerating the fulfilment of our shared commitments in this regard."She stressed the need to intensify collective efforts to strengthen commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing attention on achieving universal health coverage, a key pillar in providing quality health care for all.She highlighted Qatar's firm commitment to taking decisive action at the national level to meet the requirements of the 2030 agenda, adding: "We have achieved important goals in our journey towards achieving our development goals, and the State of Qatar has presented, on three occasions, voluntary national assessments that provide transparent insights on the progress we have made and our leading efforts in strengthening development partnerships."She added: "Recognising the importance of multilateral co-operation towards achieving universal health coverage, the State of Qatar has provided the necessary assistance to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for the population and groups most in need of care. Our humanitarian assistance and urgent medical support have extended to many countries, and the Qatar Fund for Development has allocated more than $140mn to support healthcare institutions and programs of international organisations."HE Dr al-Kuwar added: "Under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the State of Qatar has succeeded in responding efficiently to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have learned valuable lessons, which we are keen to share with the international community."The whole-of-government approach and robust healthcare system have enabled us to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and maintain one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. Our country has also contributed significantly to the global understanding of Covid-19 infections and vaccines through many high-level scientific studies published in leading medical journals. We have been successful in hosting world-class events, including the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and through careful planning and dedicated effort from all stakeholders, we have been able to minimize any significant impact of the pandemic on the health of the population nationally and internationally."She stressed Qatar's firm position in supporting co-operation with the international community to achieve the common goals. The High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage aimed to provide an opportunity for countries and stakeholders to renew efforts to achieve health for all, and the adoption of the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage was a key support for the international community's efforts in this regard.
The Pre-University Education ( PUE) at Qatar Foundation (QF) has launched several initiatives which include school counsellers, psychologists and Darb Clinic to support the students for their mental wellbeing, especially in the post Covid-19 scenario.According to QF website, there are 13 schools under the PUE network with over 7,000 students and over 1,300 staff and faculty. They represent 49 nationalities and there are more than 6000 alumni.“PUE has a team of counsellors in place at every school to ensure ongoing responsive approaches to wellbeing and mental health needs. There is also a psychologist in most schools, and available as needed across our schools, for issues that require a more individualised and long-term intervention,” said Edward Lawless - executive director, Academic Development, PUE.“In addition to school-based staffing and interventions, the Darb clinic offers parents the opportunity to bring their children to a clinic outside the school day which adheres to the guidelines and quality associated with the professionals in our schools,” explained the official.Darb initiative- Assessment and Psycho-Educational Evaluations- offers educational evaluations and therapy services for children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years. The services are available in areas such as: Cognitive and psycho-educational evaluations; speech and language; occupational therapy; gifted and talented evaluations; psycho-education to parents and age-appropriate children/adolescents; counselling for social or emotional or behavioural concerns among others.The official noted that PUE has started to collect comprehensive data on school climate, which includes many indicators relevant to student wellbeing.“Each school receives training that invites a context-specific response to the needs indicated by the data. Responses are embracing intervention like increasing their counsellor to student ratio, reactivating positive behavioural strategies, implementing social-emotional learning curriculum, and actively engaging culturally responsive practices in their school. These efforts are supported by a new curriculum framework that promotes and holistic and student-centered approach to classroom instruction,” continued, Lawless.Since the pandemic, PUE has seen an increase in safeguarding concerns, teacher burnout, teacher frustration in response to student behaviour, and behaviour from children that is not aligned with previous developmental norms.The official pointed out that PUE teachers receive several training courses in mental health to help them identify and support students who may be facing mental health difficulties. In addition, there are on-going consultation and coaching available in PUE schools as specific needs arise.He noted there are specific systems within PUE to assist students who are struggling with their mental health. “Our multi-tiered systems of support are specifically designed to differentiate between normal mental health challenges, needs requiring classroom-driven short-term solutions, and clinical needs. This system is driven by data, consistent collaboration, and highly trained staff who are ready to respond to clinically significant needs. In the rare case of a crisis that impacts the whole school, a crisis response team stands ready to intervene and support,” he added.
The biggest Asian Games in history, boasting about 12,000 competitors – more than the Olympics – will open tomorrow in the Chinese city of Hangzhou after a year’s delay because of Covid. Athletes including world and Olympic champions will fight for medals in 40 sports from athletics, swimming and football to eSports and bridge.Nine sports, among them boxing, break dancing and tennis, will serve as qualifiers for next year’s Paris Olympics. The Games were supposed to take place last September but were postponed because of China’s strict zero-Covid rules, before China’s ruling Communist Party abruptly abandoned the policy.The 19th edition of the Games, which were first held in New Delhi in 1951, throws together competitors from 45 countries and territories across Asia and the Middle East. For China, which hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics in a Covid-secure “bubble” in Beijing, it is a chance to show off its organisational, sporting and technological prowess after the pandemic years cut the country off from the sporting world. “We have overcome a lot of challenges but we are now fully conditioned to hold a successful Games,” Chen Weiqiang, chief spokesperson for the Games, said. The Games will be staged at 54 venues – 14 newly constructed – mostly in Hangzhou but also extending to cities as far afield as Wenzhou, 300 kilometres (180 miles) south. The centrepiece is the “Big Lotus” Olympic stadium with a capacity of up to 80,000 where athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies will be staged.President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony and meet Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad there, along with other visiting leaders, Chinese state media says. Assad is making his first visit to ally China since the war erupted in Syria in 2011. Russian President Vladimir Putin likewise attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, along with Xi, and weeks later launched the invasion of Ukraine.Hangzhou, a city of 12 million people an hour’s bullet train from Shanghai, is famed in China for its ancient temples, gardens and its beloved West Lake. It is also the unofficial home of China’s tech industry, notably the birth place of Jack Ma’s Alibaba. The Games will showcase some of the latest tech to come out of the city, including driverless buses, robot dogs and facial recognition.Hosts China have topped the medals table at every Asian Games since 1982 and are expected to do so again by the time the curtain comes down on October 8. They should reign in swimming, with Qin Haiyang fresh from his heroics at the world championships, where he announced himself as the new undisputed breaststroke king. The 24-year-old swept all three men’s events and set a new world record in the 200m.In athletics, another of the most closely watched sports, India’s Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra will defend his Asian Games javelin crown. His nearest competitor should be world silver medallist Arshad Nadeem from arch-rivals Pakistan and the countries are also on a collision course in cricket and hockey.ESports, in what is seen as a step towards Olympic inclusion one day, will make its full Asian Games debut having been a demonstration sport five years ago. Lee Sang-hyeok, better known as “Faker”, has god-like status in League of Legends and will lead the South Korean charge at the futuristic-looking China Hangzhou Esports Centre.There is an added incentive which has caused controversy in South Korea – winning gold will exempt them from having to do military service. A feature of the Asian Games is that it includes sports that are a little more quirky than the Olympics.Xiangqi – also known as “Chinese chess” – the card game bridge and the ancient wrestling discipline of kurash are all on the menu. Although the Games officially open tomorrow, the sporting action began on Tuesday.