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Alberta

“Cheer up, things could be worse.” So, we cheered up. Things got worse.

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In healthier times for athletes and athletics, there were several tried-and-true methods of creating a debate likely to create serious response from all sides: which of the major professional leagues is best?

The question has special impact now, as hoopsters, skaters, gridders and ballplayers — joined by governments and team bosses — seek the best way to survive the anguish caused by COVID-19 and restore stability for all teams, all sports and all the fans who care about them.

All are staggering these days.

In the pandemic’s early chapters, the mantra became familiar: “Cheer up, things could be worse.” So, we cheered up. Things got worse.

The NHL fights the coronavirus by limiting information. Baseball players and owners pick this time to enter wrist-twisting events that probably will have no long-term effect. Football operators dig themselves into and out of political crisis on a daily basis.

The National Basketball Association, somehow, has found its way past such errors. Their  decision to let players put political opinions on game jerseys was thoroughly questioned but has received more praise than criticism.

Recently, in Canada, there was evidence that the National Basketball Association had a substantial edge in popularity and support, thanks almost totally to the 2020 success of the Toronto Raptors. Even the casual fan recalls the wild response generated, east to west and all points in between, by the shocking championship run created largely on the brilliance of Kawhi Leonard and the incredible effort generated by his teammates, night after night.

Never in recent history has competition in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball or National Football League prompted bursts of wild, day-to-day support to equal the attention the Raptors attained in each playoff series leading to the ultimate victory. From a league-wide perspective, the excellence in which the NBA conducted all those games was remarkable.

Sure, the Edmonton Oilers had massive appeal when they dominated Stanley Cup races, year after year, in the heyday of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and their partners who marched almost as a unit into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At other times, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs (believe it or not!) also reached that level, or came close to it. But the NHL has struggled — still struggles, in fact — to be recognized across the world as equal to basketball, baseball or football.

No doubt, the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series successes in 1992 and 1993 are near the top in any ranking of this nation’s largest sports moments but MLB has done a lousy job of attracting Black players and getting young fans interested in their game.

Perhaps the NFL has made more errors than all the others combined. Their owners alternate between bowing to political pressure and actively defying political reality. Ignoring the tragic used-to-be “Redskins” story is an error that could emerge, perhaps for decades, as the biggest failure of all.

https://www.todayville.com/edmonton/author/johnshort/

 

Alberta

Positive COVID-19 tests at world men's curling championship deemed “false positives”

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CALGARY — The four positive COVID-19 tests that interrupted the men’s world curling championship are considered “false positives” from potentially contaminated samples, according to the World Curling Federation.

The men’s championship concluded late Sunday night with Sweden’s Niklas Edin winning a record fifth world men’s title.

No games were played Saturday because four participants, including one from a playoff team, tested positive for the virus in “exit” tests before leaving Calgary’s curling bubble. 

None had symptoms of the illness.

All have tested negative in multiple re-tests since then, the WCF said Monday in a statement. All tests were conducted via PCR throat swabs.

“According to Alberta Health, PCR testing remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing,” the WCF said. “Very rarely, there are occurrences through sampling or testing processes when samples may become contaminated and a false positive may result.

“Following an investigation over the weekend, it appears that this may have occurred in this case and follow-up testing was undertaken.”

All athletes and personnel considered close contacts of the four underwent testing Saturday with all results negative. 

Every playoff team member was tested before and after each game Sunday with those results also negative, the WCF said. Hotel staff were also tested Sunday and cleared.

“With the original four positive test results now deemed as false positives, the integrity of the Calgary bubble remains intact,” the WCF declared.

“The change also allows international athletes who were considered close contacts, and who would have had to remain in isolation in Calgary for 14 days, will now be able to depart Calgary.”

The fifth of seven events in Calgary’s curling hub, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, gets underway Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Pulling the plug: Edmonton Folk Music Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

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EDMONTON — Despite Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s hope that the COVID-19 vaccine will allow summer events like the Calgary Stampede to go ahead, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been cancelled

The festival says in a statement that without full vaccination, people won’t be entirely safe from the spread of COVID-19. 

It says that with virus variants and an uncertain vaccine rollout, the impossibility of social distancing at the outdoor festival could lead to community spread.

Kenney has said that two-thirds of the population should have a vaccine shot by the end of June and things should begin to feel back-to-normal.

He says the Stampede, which is held in early July, along with sporting events and other festivals will be possible.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival says it will continue to offer online content and, if small gatherings are permitted, it hopes to add some community engagement.

“With so many variables at play, the complexity of planning and delivering a festival of our size makes it impossible to move forward in our usual manner,” the statement said Monday.

“As profoundly disappointing as this news is, we believe this is the only safe way forward. The safety of our patrons, volunteers, and artists was of paramount importance in coming to this conclusion.”

The annual four-day festival in the city’s Gallagher Park usually attracts thousands of music fans and boasts approximately 2,700 volunteers.

Alberta introduced new health rules last week, closing restaurants to in-person dining and further reducing customer capacity at retail stores in response to rising COVID-19 numbers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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