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CWG organisers apologise for ‘shameful’ closing ceremony

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Boxing legend MC Mary Kom led the Indian contingent at the Closing Ceremony. However, the athletes' march past was not shown live on TV. (PC- PTI)

Canberra, April 16: The organizers of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have apologised for Sunday’s closing ceremony on Sunday night which has been roundly criticised for not including athletes.

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Athletes, including the competing countries’ respective flag-bearers, marched on to the arena before the ceremony commenced, meaning the audience at Carrara stadium could see them, but the TV audience couldn’t. Many athletes were seen leaving the stadium while the closing speeches were still in progress, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ceremony was even criticised by Australian broadcasters, Channel Seven, with former CWG bronze Medallist Johanna Griggs saying during the live coverage she was “furious” with the decision.

“They’re actually wrecking a tradition that is so important and part of the Commonwealth Games,” Griggs said, live on air. “Unfortunately tonight, the organizing committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

Commonwealth Games Chairman Peter Beattie acknowledged on Monday that organisers made a mistake featuring athletes in the pre-show instead of the television coverage.

“If the athletes didn’t come into the stadium until the broadcast time they would have been stuck in a field or a paddock somewhere,” Beattie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

Beattie, who had previously described the CWG as “inspirational” and “innovative,” said he was disappointed the viewers at home did not get to see the athletes.

“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the closing ceremony. However, having them come in to the stadium in the pre-show meant the TV audience were not able to see the athletes enter the stadium. We got that wrong,” the Commonwealth Games chairman said.

“The people who are angry are justified. The people who have been critical are also justified,” Beattie said.

“Unfortunately tonight, the organising committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

In a social media post on Monday morning, Beattie said the closing ceremony telecast should have been organised more appropriately.

“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he wrote.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who actually spoke at the closing ceremony, also criticised the organisers on Monday.

“At the end of the day, we appoint an agency to run the day to day operations of the Games,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

“Whoever made that decision not to allow those athletes to march in should hang their heads in shame.”

Athletes themselves have said they were disappointed to not be included in the closing ceremony.

Angus Brandt, a member of the Australian basketball team which won a gold medal, said the entire Australian basketball team was disappointed to be left out.

“It was a little disappointing with the athletes being brought in before the actual ceremony began,” Brandt said on Australian Television on Monday.

“We were looking forward to being part of the Closing Ceremony and being recognized for what we had done in the games.”

The host broadcaster of the CWG, NEP Group, also released a social media post saying it was “disappointed.”

IANS

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Coach Ravi Shastri reveals why Dhoni took the ball from umpire

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New Delhi, July 19: Team India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday dismissed all speculation on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement.

Shastri’s comments came after social media on Wednesday was abuzz with speculation that the 2011 World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni will soon retire from all formats of the game.

Dhoni was seen taking the match ball from the umpires at the end of the third one-day international against England at the Headingley cricket ground in Leeds on Tuesday, and Twitter went on overdrive as fans began to wonder about the significance of the move.

“Is Dhoni retiring?” was the talking point as all and sundry began to wonder about the significance of the former India skipper walking away with the match ball despite India having lost the match. Dhoni asked for back towards the pavilion.

Thus coach put a full stop on all the speculation and said,” “That’s rubbish. MS is not going anywhere”.

Shastri said Dhoni took the ball from umpire to show it to bowling coach Bharat Arun.

Dismissing the speculation, Shastri said: “MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like.”

“But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled,” Shastri told Times of India.

Dhoni had come under fire following his 59-ball 37-run knock in the second ODI of the series at Lord’s. In fact, the crowd at the iconic venue booed Dhoni in the same game where he completed 10,000 ODI runs.

Following that game, Kohli had come out in Dhoni’s support, saying, “When he does well, people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well, they all pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him.”

“Also, you want to take the innings deep; you don’t want to just lose by 160-170 runs, and he has the experience, but some days it just doesn’t come off. Other people jump to conclusions, but we don’t — we totally believe in him,” Kohli had said.

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Pant gets maiden call; Shami back for first 3 England Tests

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New Delhi, July 18: Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday picked as the second choice stumper as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recalled pacer Mohammed Shami in the 18-member squad for the first three Tests of the five-match rubber against England.

Pant was rewarded with the Test call-up following a successful run with the willow in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shami, who was dropped from the lone Test match against Afghanistan for failing a fitness test, made his way back to the team after clearing the mandatory yo-yo test. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair has also been re-called to the squad while Rohit Sharma failed to make it.

Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is recuperating from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad, but will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness, a BCCI statement confirmed.

Meanwhile, fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has his back injury after featuring in the third One-day International (ODI) against England on Tuesday and was left out of the first three Tests.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the third ODI against England. His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” the board said.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wins gold at Sotteville Athletics Meet

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New Delhi, July 18: India’s star javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the Sotteville Athletics Meet in France on Tuesday.

Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.

Neeraj is India’s top javelin thrower and he proved his mettle once again on the international stage when he won the gold medal with a massive margin.

While Neeraj Chopra threw a distance of 85.17 m, the second best was Adrian Mardare of Moldova who threw a distance of 81.48 m.

The bronze medal went to Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius, whose best throw of the night was 79.31m.

The winning distance from Chopra was, however, less than what he achieved to win a historic Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold in Australia earlier this year. He had improved on his season’s best with an effort of 86.47m in Gold Coast to become the country’s first javelin-thrower to win a CWG gold.

Last week, he finished fifth at the Rabat Diamond League with a best throw of 83.32m.

So, the victory at the Sotteville Athletics Meet augurs well for his Asian Games preparation which will be held next month in Indonesia.

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