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Djokovic could be barred from French Open by vaccine pass law

AFP

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in the French Open under current rules after the sports ministry said on Monday that elite sportspeople would need to be vaccinated to perform in France.

The ministry said a new vaccine pass, approved by the French parliament on Sunday, “applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice.”

The unvaccinated Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday before the Australian Open — the first Grand Slam tournament of the year — after failing in a court battle to have the cancellation of his visa overturned.

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The French move appears to contradict Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu’s assertion last week that certain events like the French Open had a special exemption which could allow Djokovic to play in the tournament without being vaccinated against coronavirus. 

Major events like the French Open previously permitted unvaccinated athletes to compete as they operated a health bubble around the tournament.

If no exemption is possible, the measure would dash the 34-year-old Serb’s hopes of defending his French Open title and potentially winning an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam singles crown.

Djokovic’s hopes of a Grand Slam success in 2022 would then rest on Wimbledon as New York vaccination rules, as they stand now, would rule him out of the US Open.

France’s vaccine pass law will require people to carry vaccination certificates to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and intercity trains.

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The first major international sports event to be directly affected would be the upcoming Six Nations rugby championship when France will host Italy on February 6, Ireland on February 12 and England on March 19.

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International

Mexican opposition bloc asks to “abstain” from declaring a winner before the official count

The campaign coordinator of the opposition Xóchitl Gálvez and member of the National Action Party (PAN), Santiago Creel, asked the media to “refrain” from declaring a winner of the Mexican elections before the official count of the National Electoral Institute (INE).

“The parties that make up the Force and Heart for Mexico coalition make an attentive and respectful appeal to the mass media to refrain from being the winner of this contest,” Creel demanded at a press conference.

In a hotel in the Mexican capital, the center of operations of Gálvez’s candidacy, he asked to wait for the INE to offer the quick count around 10:30 p.m. local time (04:30 GMT).

Even so, he stressed that in the internal data of the alliance between the PAN, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolution (PRD), his “winning trend” is observed in “several” of the states that renew their state government, such as Guanajuato (center) or Mexico City.

“In our measurements, we have numbers that confirm that our candidate and candidates are victorious,” said the president of the PAN, Marko Cortés, who reiterated his request for prudence to the media that have published projections that predict the triumph of the ruling candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum.

In addition, he stressed the perception that the citizen participation provided by his information registers “high percentages”, something that “is not weighing” either.

On the other hand, the leader of the PRD, Jesús Zambrano, again asked the “representatives of booths (voting centers) throughout the country” to stay in their positions, because “the most difficult hours are coming” of the day.

“Anything can happen to distort the electoral result, to disappear minutes or even to supplant electoral packages,” he warned.

The PRI president, Alejandro Moreno, who emphasized the alleged opposition victory in six of the nine states at stake in this contest, maintained a “respectful, but firm” tone before the journalists gathered in the room.

“We are less than two hours away from the counts and the clear information announced by the electoral referee. (…) In the measurements of the counts we have we are consolidated,” he said.

Earlier, the opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez said this Sunday that she “has already won,” but asked to “count until the last vote” of the elections, because she is “competing against authoritarianism and power and they are capable of everything.”

“I had told them for months that we were going to win these elections despite all the trap, all the lies, despite all the abuse of power and their millions of deviated pesos,” said the candidate of the Fuerza y Corazón coalition for Mexico in the Mexican capital.

Gálvez said she was the winner “for the very high citizen participation, of more than 80% of many boxes (voting centers), for the energy and enthusiasm of the people,” after the closure of the voting centers at 18:00 local time (00:00 GMT), although the National Electoral Institute (INE) still does not offer official results.

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They reject the request of former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández for a new trial in New York

A federal judge in New York rejected on Thursday the motion presented by former President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández, between 2014 and 2022, to make a new trial, after finding him guilty in March of conspiracy and drug trafficking while in office.

Hernández used the alleged trough that DEA analyst Jennifer Taul lied in the criminal trial in which she was blamed for working with cartel-backed drug traffickers to transport cocaine through Honduras destined mainly to the United States.

Taul defended in the trial that cocaine trafficking through Honduras increased during Hernández’s two periods, while the former president argued that it actually decreased using as a source a professor from Trinity College who assured that the amount of this drug from Honduras to the United States had fallen by 82% during his government.

The federal district judge P. Kevin Castel questioned that claim and clarified that Hernández was convicted of conspiring with drug traffickers “regardless of whether the total cocaine trafficking in Honduras increased or decreased” while he was president.

“The evidence that cocaine trafficking through Honduras as a whole decreased during the Hernández administration would only be relevant to demonstrate that Hernández promulgated anti-narcotic policies,” he said.

In his motion, Hernández alleged that Manhattan (New York) was not the right place to judge his case, but the South district of Florida for landing for the first time in Fort Lauderdale after being sent from Tegucigalpa (Honduras).

Castel also dismissed this thesis, with the explanation that the time that Hernández spent in South Florida was equivalent to a half-hour stopover en route to a New York airport, who knew the stop and who never before opposed the chosen place.

During the trial against Hernández, the Prosecutor’s Office presented as main witnesses drug traffickers from Honduras who are serving sentence in the United States after reaching an agreement with the authorities for the reduction of his sentence, as well as the DEA agent.

“The accused accepted millions of dollars in bribes from his drug trafficking partners and, in return, he protected his drugs with all the power of the State, including the Honduran police, the military and judicial system,” the Prosecutor’s Office explained during the process.
His sentence is scheduled for June 26 and faces life imprisonment.

 

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International

Pellegrini and Korcok go to the second round for the Presidency of Slovakia

Social Democrat Peter Pellegrini, supported by the coalition government with proximity to Russia and Hungary, and the diplomat Ivan Korcok, supported by the liberal and progressive opposition who defend to help Ukraine militarily, will compete for the Presidency of Slovakia in a second round on April 6.

With 85% of the scrutiny, Korcok achieved 39.2% of the ballots, while Pellegrini received 39%, according to the statistical office that offered the live scrutiny.

Since his return to power at the head of a coalition of leftist populists and ultra-nationalists, Prime Minister Robert Fico has reoriented foreign policy towards a more favorable position to Russia and has attacked independent institutions, such as the judiciary, dismantling the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office that investigated senior officials in the formation of the head of the Government.

In this context, the Presidency becomes a key position to control the executive power.

“The country is not well and I want it to move,” Korkoc said after learning the preliminary results that give the passage to the second round and in reference to the massive protests against the latest measures of the coalition executive.

“Slovakia has lost the compass in foreign policy,” the experienced diplomat also said about the radical turn that has meant to stop supporting Ukraine militarily since Fico came to power, unlike what happened in the previous legislature.

The participation of 50 percent was slightly higher than the 48 percent there was five years ago, when the current head of state, Zuzana Caputova, and the then vice president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, passed the second round.

Pellegrini stressed that the country now needs “concord,” and “not to witness continuous conflicts between politicians and institutional representatives.”

It must be seen which of the two candidates will be able to attract the most nationalist and radical vote that has not managed to be represented in these elections, since, despite the differences in political ideology, there are many points on which Pellegrini and Korcok agree, the latter has recognized.

Pellegrini already has a remarkable trajectory: he has been prime minister and currently presides over Parliament for the second time.

In addition, he leads his own party, La Voz (“Hlas”), after having been a minister on several occasions.

Hlas is a split of the social democratic formation Smer de Fico, the politician who has been at the head of the Government in Slovakia for the longest time and who in recent years, since the pandemic, has resulted in populist, anti-immigration, reluctant with vaccines and pro-Russian positions.

The main criticism that Pellegrini receives is that he has not managed to disassociate himself from the figure of his previous leader, Fico, and it is unknown if as president he will be able to put a halt to some of the reforms of the Executive that violate the rule of law.

Korcok, 59, former foreign minister and former ambassador in the United States, Germany and the EU, presents himself as the counterweight to the current government.

His profile is close to that of the outgoing president, the liberal Caputova, who has hindered the controversial reforms of the Government.

On April 6, the Slovaks will choose the successor of Caputova, the country’s first female president, after she decided not to seek a second term. The outgoing president, who has sued Prime Minister Fico for calling her a “traitor” and an “American agent,” says she does not have the energy to continue for another five years, citing threats against her family in a very polarized period of Slovak politics.

Caputova expressed his hope that his successor “will represent the country well abroad.”

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