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International

China spends billions on Olympics with longer-term goal

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GENEVA (AP) — The finance model for the Winter Olympics calls for the host country to spend several billion dollars, the IOC to earn a couple billion, and sports bodies to share around hundreds of millions.

Fortunately for China, turning a profit from the 2022 Beijing Games was not a priority even before the coronavirus pandemic wiped out some expected sources of income.’

Chinese President Xi Jinping set a goal in 2015 to create a new tourism industry in the country.

“It will inspire over 300 million Chinese to participate in winter sports if we win, which will contribute greatly to the development of the international Olympic cause,” Xi said back then, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

The buildup to the Olympics, which open on Feb. 4 and close 16 days later, has brought high-speed train lines that will carry athletes to new ski resorts outside Beijing. For the next few decades, those same train lines will be shuttling Chinese tourists to the mountains.

CHINA SPENDING

Russia reportedly spent $51 billion on the 2014 Sochi Games, a price tag that is expected to stand as an Olympic record for many years. That huge amount made European voters nervous about hosting in the future and led the IOC to review how Games are awarded and organized.

But China’s motivation, like Russia in 2014, is a state-backed plan to create domestic leisure and tourism sectors with the big-ticket item again being a city-to-mountains transport system.

China allocated more than $9 billion for a high-speed rail linking Beijing to nearby ski resorts in Zhangjiakou and Yangqing, where ski slopes have been carved out of mountains that get little natural snow.

The budget for Olympic-specific operations to host the Games is expected to be about $4 billion. Venues built in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics have been repurposed. The Water Cube for swimming is now the Ice Cube for curling.

Still, the overall investment on winter sports has been significant since Beijing won its Olympic bid seven years ago.

China now has more than 650 ice rinks and 800 ski resorts, China Daily reported this month, citing the National Winter Sports Administrative Center. Those numbers mark rises of 317% and 41%, respectively, since 2015.

CHINA INCOME

China would have expected modest revenue from relatively few international visitors for the Winter Games even before the pandemic made their trips impossible.

Tickets also aren’t being sold to residents of China, taking another of the host’s income streams. The IOC’s own figures show the highest Winter Games ticketing revenue was $250 million at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which sold 1.5 million tickets.

Host city organizing committees keep income from domestic sponsor deals they negotiate. Sochi set the Winter Games record with almost $1.2 billion from 46 sponsors.

The Beijing organizing committee’s website currently lists 44 commercial partners, nearly all Chinese, in four tiers that include suppliers of goods and services. The 11 top-tier “partners” include Air China and Bank of China.

Sales of merchandizing such as gloves and mascots, worth $79 million to Pyeongchang in 2018, also top up local organizers’ income.

Still, the most important number has at least officially already been reached. The National Bureau of Statistics said this month the target of engaging 300 million people in winter sports had been hit.

IOC INCOME

The IOC gets billions of dollars from broadcasters around the world and from sponsors who get exclusive global rights.

Beijing is the first of American broadcaster NBC’s $7.75 billion, six-Olympics deal through 2032. It was said when signed eight years ago to be worth a combined $2.5 billion for the 2022 Beijing Games and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Summer Olympics bring in about twice as much as the Winter Games.

The IOC now has 13 top-tier sponsors, including Chinese companies Alibaba and Mengniu, which is in the soft drinks category along with Coca-Cola. It was 11 for Sochi and Rio de Janeiro when their combined value was $1 billion in cash and services in 2014 and 2016.

The so-called TOP program is set to be worth about $3 billion for 2021-24, IOC president Thomas Bach told members last March. It was unclear if that reflected Tokyo being pushed back as host into 2021.

IOC SPENDING

The IOC is giving $880 million toward Beijing organizers’ costs. That’s only a few million less than Pyeongchang organizers got four years ago.

The IOC also shared $215 million from its 2018 Olympic revenue among the seven governing bodies of Winter Games sports — skiing, skating, hockey, biathlon, bobsled, curling and luge.

In their 2020 accounts, the International Ski Federation listed $13 million as its Olympic payment and the International Skating Union noted more than $11 million.

Another $215 million was distributed among national Olympic committees. Of the 206 NOCs, 92 competed in Pyeongchang.

ATHLETES’ SHARE

The 2,900 athletes at the Beijing Olympics do not get prize money from the IOC for competing or winning medals. Some of what the IOC pays sports bodies can trickle down to athletes, however.

The IOC will put $590 million into the Olympic Solidarity fund for the 2021-24 period. That will give grants to train athletes, coaches and administrators. Less wealthy countries are prioritized.

The IOC said 420 athletes from 78 teams were awarded scholarships to help qualify and prepare for this year’s Olympics. The program had a $10 million budget for the 2018 edition.

In some countries, Olympic medalists get cash or gifts from sports bodies and governments.

The U.S. Olympic team’s “Operation Gold” program has paid $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

Russia has a tradition of wealthy supporters rewarding Olympic success. Gold medalists at the Sochi Olympics were given $120,000 and an SUV.

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More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

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COVID-19

WHO decides the COVID-19 global emergency isn’t over

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The World Health Organization decided Monday not to declare an end to the COVID-19 global public health emergency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the international body, said Monday “there is no doubt that we’re in a far better situation now” than a year ago, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

What would it mean if the WHO had decided to lift that designation?

By declaring a global emergency, the WHO essentially sounded the alarm on a serious worldwide health risk that required international co-operation.

It triggered a legally binding response among WHO member countries, including Canada, and allowed the organization to make temporary recommendations to those countries to prevent or deal with the threat.

Over the last few years those recommendations have included quarantining infected people and their close contacts and border testing and closures.

The formal designation was made on Jan. 30, 2020, when 99 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 cases were still restricted to China.

Even if that designation is lifted, it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over or that the threat has ended.

Why was the WHO considering it now?

Monday marks three years to the day since Tedros first declared the then little-understood coronavirus a global health emergency.

Since then, a committee of global experts has met every three months to offer advice on whether the pandemic still meets that definition.

“As we enter the fourth year of the pandemic, we are certainly in a much better position now than we were a year ago when the Omicron wave was at its peak and more than 70 thousand deaths were being reported to WHO each week,” Tedros told the committee Friday.

At the previous meeting in October, he said weekly reported COVID-19 deaths had nearly reached their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Friday though, Tedros appeared to caution the committee against being too optimistic.

He said the number of weekly deaths had been rising since early December, particularly since public health restrictions were lifted in China.

“In total, over the past eight weeks, more than 170,000 deaths have been reported. The actual number is certainly much higher,” he said.

He also reminded the experts the pandemic response remains “hobbled” in countries without COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Even in countries with such tools at their disposal, public trust in those life-saving medicines has been undermined by disinformation campaigns, health systems remain overwhelmed because of staff shortages, and COVID-19 surveillance efforts have been massively scaled down.

What will Canada do differently once the WHO declares the emergency over?

Nothing much. At a press conference Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said no matter what the WHO decided, Canada would continue to track cases, serious illnesses and deaths, as well as roll out vaccination campaigns.

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths associated with the virus spiked noticeably over Christmas and in early January, Tam said, but all now appear to be trending down.

“We mustn’t, I think, let go of the gains that we’ve had in the last several years,” she said.

“I think whatever the decision is made by the director-general of WHO, I think we just need to keep going with what we’re doing now.”

Whose decision was it not to end the emergency?

The final call was ultimately up to Tedros, but he was informed by the advice of the emergency committee.

The group, first struck in 2020 when the threat of COVID-19 first came to light, voted Friday on whether or not to maintain the formal emergency designation.

When will the pandemic finally be over?

It’s still difficult to say because COVID-19 is still spreading rampantly around the world.

The WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic a month and a half after designating it a global emergency, and at the time Tedros took pains to explain the two classifications are not one and the same.

“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” Tedros said on March 11, 2020.

Last fall he declared the end of the pandemic was “in sight,” but it is difficult to say when it will fully come into view.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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Health

British health researcher says authorities in Canada, US, and UK are doing nothing about thousands of excess deaths

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About six months ago, the Province of Alberta’s annual cause of deaths statistics briefly made headlines around the world.  For the first time “unknown causes of mortality” was the leading cause of death in the province.  Just a few years earlier, “unknown causes” wasn’t even on the top ten list.

Province of Alberta Cause of Death Statistics 2021

An Alberta taxpayer might expect the province to call an inquiry into this shocking development to see if there’s not some way to protect the lives of thousands of Albertans. So far this has not happened.

Now similar shocking statistics are starting to emerge nationally and around the world.  British health researcher John Campbell has looked at the data coming from Canada, Britain, the US and Australia among other nations.  He’s noticed a very significant and distressing increase in “excess deaths”.  The number of excess deaths is quickly adding up to the hundreds of thousands. Of course some of these deaths can be attributed to COVID-19, but the vast majority are not.

In this video, Dr. Campbell reveals the data he’s found and offers some pointed criticism to our political leaders. Canada is singled out as “quite pathetic” for not even sharing cause death statistics after August of 2022. Campbell says “I think we’re in somewhat of an international emergency not being responded to as I would like by our governments in any way, shape, or form.  In fact they seem to be ignoring it. As indeed do most of the mainstream media.”

“This demands an explanation. And we’re not getting one.”

From Dr. John Campbell – British health researcher / instructor

Dr. Campbell’s presentation notes including links to information sources

US, Weekly Cumulative All-Cause Excess Deaths

ttps://www.usmortality.com

https://www.usmortality.com/deaths/ex…

Excess deaths 2022 (Up to December 1st) 242,224

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/7…

https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV…

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Provisional Mortality Statistics

Reference period, Jan – Sep 2022

144,650 deaths that occurred by 30 September 19,986 (16.0%) more than the historical average.

Deaths attributed to covid, 8,160

October covid deaths, 232

Australia, September 2022 13,675 deaths (doctor certified) 1,814 were coroner referred.

UK, ONS https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulati…

UK Prevalence

2.61% in England (1 in 40 people)

3.94% in Wales (1 in 25 people)

4.22% in Northern Ireland (1 in 25 people)

3.26% in Scotland (1 in 30 people)

Deaths and excess deaths

(W/E week 13th January 2023)

A total of 19,916 deaths were registered in the UK

20.4% above the five-year average.

Covid UK deaths

1,059 deaths involving COVID-19 registered (up 842 on the week)

Deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 5.3% of all deaths UK,

Office for Health Improvement https://www.gov.uk/government/statist…

Excess deaths in all age groups, (0 to 24 years) UK,

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries https://actuaries.org.uk/news-and-med…

Mortality rates in 2022 compare to 2019 at different ages 2022,

mortality, 7.8% higher for ages 20-44

In the UK, the second half of 2022

26,300 excess deaths, compared to 4,700 in the first half of 2022 Europe,

EuroMOMO,

Bulletin week 2 2023 https://www.euromomo.eu

Pooled EuroMOMO, all-cause mortalit

Elevated level of excess mortality, overall and in all age groups.

Data from 25 European countries or subnational regions

Average levels from pre 2020 https://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-… https://www.stats.govt.nz/topics/birt…

Year ended September 2021,

total of 34,578 deaths Year ended September 2022, total of 38,052 deaths

 

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