Salah's Egyptian Fans Share in His Champions League Misery

Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah reacts during the medal ceremony at the end of the match against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis May 28, 2022. — AFP pic
Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah reacts during the medal ceremony at the end of the match against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis May 28, 2022. — AFP pic
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Salah's Egyptian Fans Share in His Champions League Misery

Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah reacts during the medal ceremony at the end of the match against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis May 28, 2022. — AFP pic
Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah reacts during the medal ceremony at the end of the match against Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis May 28, 2022. — AFP pic

Donning Liverpool jerseys, Egyptian soccer fans cheered "Mo Salah! Mo Salah" even as they struggled to hide their disappointment over the Reds' loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

It was another blow for Mohamed Salah who was reduced to tears twice earlier this year following Egypt's losses to Senegal in both the African Cup of Nations final and the World Cup play-off, AFP said.

To rub salt into his wounds Salah missed a penalty in the penalty shootout defeat to Senegal in the World Cup play-off.

In those matches, Liverpool's African stars Salah and the Senegalese Sadio Mane were on opposing camps.

On Saturday, they suffered in defeat together.

"It's really not the year of Salah," said Youssef Mohammed, a 21-year-old accounting student, wearing a Liverpool jersey, at a Cairo park where a giant screen was installed for the match.

"We had more chances, better ball possession, but less luck, so in the end, Real stole the victory from us", says 37-year-old Khaled Youssef.

Youssef, a leading member of the official Egyptian Liverpool supporters club, which has 215,000 followers on Facebook, says supporting the Reds and being Egyptian makes him "the least fortunate fan in the world."

- 'Disaster' -
For many in Egypt, where public gatherings are effectively prohibited, football offers a rare avenue for distraction away from daily struggles including a heightened inflation rate which Moody's warned could raise instability and social tensions.

On Saturday, fans filled cafes across Cairo, sporting red scarves, waving flags to the Liverpool anthem of "you'll never walk alone" hoping for a victory against the Spanish side.

All prayed, danced, and chanted in the hopes of another Liverpool win similar to that of the 2019 Champions League when they beat Tottenham Hotspur.

Salah wished that "the 2022 final will be different from that of 2018," when he went off injured and Real Madrid beat them 3-1.

"We have a score to settle," Salah said on social media moments after Real Madrid set up a re-match with Liverpool.

Heads slumped in Cairo as the referee signaled the match's end with Real Madrid winning 1-0.

"It is the latest disaster in a repeat scenario," said Amr Said, a 35-year-old engineer who is also a member of Liverpool's Official Egyptian Supporters' Club.

Liverpool were hoping to win their seventh European Cup which would have been the ideal pick me up a week after they narrowly lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Salah and Liverpool will have to be content with lifting the FA and League Cup.

Salah is still an icon for millions in Egypt where he often features on giant billboards across the capital, Cairo.

He often springs up on TV ads for everything from a national anti-drugs campaign to promotions for soft drinks and luxury residences.

Despite the disappointment over Salah's loss, Egypt is gearing up for Monday's African Champions League final pitting Cairo giants Al Ahly against Wydad Casablanca.



Spain’s Government to Oversee Football Federation Until New Elections

A man looks at the front pages of Spanish newspapers reporting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's decision to suspend public duties after the court launched a preliminary investigation into his wife Begona Gomez, at a newspaper shop in Barcelona, Spain. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
A man looks at the front pages of Spanish newspapers reporting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's decision to suspend public duties after the court launched a preliminary investigation into his wife Begona Gomez, at a newspaper shop in Barcelona, Spain. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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Spain’s Government to Oversee Football Federation Until New Elections

A man looks at the front pages of Spanish newspapers reporting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's decision to suspend public duties after the court launched a preliminary investigation into his wife Begona Gomez, at a newspaper shop in Barcelona, Spain. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
A man looks at the front pages of Spanish newspapers reporting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's decision to suspend public duties after the court launched a preliminary investigation into his wife Begona Gomez, at a newspaper shop in Barcelona, Spain. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

The Spanish government on Thursday announced the creation of a special committee to oversee the country's football federation (RFEF) until the governing body holds new elections.
The decision was taken "in response to the crisis in the organization and in defense of the general interest of Spain," the National Sports Council (CSD), which is the government agency responsible for sport, said in a statement.
The move follows months of scandals after a corruption investigation sparked by an unsolicited kiss from former RFEF chief Luis Rubiales on player Jenni Hermoso at the on pitch awards ceremony for Spain's women's World Cup success in Sydney, Reuters reported.
"The Spanish government has taken this decision in order to correct the serious situation that the RFEF is going through and to allow the organization to begin a period of regeneration," the CSD said.
"This Commission for Supervision, Normalization and Representation will be headed by independent persons of recognized prestige."


French Open to Reveal 2nd Retractable Roof Court at Roland Garros Ahead of Olympics

This photograph taken on April 25, 2024, shows a view of the Court Suzanne-Lenglen with its new retractable roof and a Roland Garros Paris logo after a press conference presenting the 2024 edition of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium complex in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)
This photograph taken on April 25, 2024, shows a view of the Court Suzanne-Lenglen with its new retractable roof and a Roland Garros Paris logo after a press conference presenting the 2024 edition of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium complex in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)
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French Open to Reveal 2nd Retractable Roof Court at Roland Garros Ahead of Olympics

This photograph taken on April 25, 2024, shows a view of the Court Suzanne-Lenglen with its new retractable roof and a Roland Garros Paris logo after a press conference presenting the 2024 edition of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium complex in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)
This photograph taken on April 25, 2024, shows a view of the Court Suzanne-Lenglen with its new retractable roof and a Roland Garros Paris logo after a press conference presenting the 2024 edition of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium complex in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

The second retractable roof at Roland Garros will be inaugurated on the opening day of the French Open next month, organizers said on Thursday about a project planned with the Paris Olympics in mind.
A ceremony for the roof over the 10,000-seat Suzanne Lenglen court will be held on May 26 when play starts in the main draws, tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said at a news conference.
Even before the inauguration for the two-week tournament, the roof can be closed if rain comes during qualifying rounds on the six previous days, The Associated Press reported.
The main 15,000-seat Philippe Chatrier court has had a retractable roof since 2020.
“It is a court that will help us a lot,” Mauresmo said, calling it the “most visible new feature” of the 2024 tournament.
Mauresmo praised the new roof as giving more flexibility in scheduling matches and ensuring play for 25,000 fans on the grounds and TV viewers worldwide.
The two roofed courts will help keep the Olympic tournament on schedule from July 27-Aug. 4 at the Paris Games. At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, matches in open-air courts were disrupted by searing heat and humidity.
Rafael Nadal, the record 14-time French Open men’s singles champion, doubted on Wednesday he will be ready for Roland Garros as he's dealing with injuries at age 37.
“We cross our fingers for him and for us. He’s at home and he knows it,” Mauresmo said, hours before Nadal was due on court at the Madrid Open. “We are waiting to see what happens and we will follow his desires.”
Nadal, an Olympic gold medalist in singles and doubles, is expected at Roland Garros for the Summer Games, and could play doubles with Carlos Alcaraz, French Tennis Federation official Stéphane Morel suggested.
Roland Garros also stages boxing finals in the second week of the Olympics. Mauresmo said the extra attractions had only a positive effect on demand for the French Open.
The tournament is sold out for the first week with daily crowds of 75,000 expected, and about 650,000 across the three weeks including qualifying.


Klopp's Liverpool Farewell Fizzles Out Tamely

Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
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Klopp's Liverpool Farewell Fizzles Out Tamely

Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File

Jurgen Klopp's nearly nine years at Liverpool have been filled with memorable milestones but an unwanted first of his reign leaves his final few weeks at Anfield with little left to play for.
Klopp tasted defeat in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park for the first time in nine visits as a 2-0 defeat against Everton left the Reds' dreams of sending their manager off as a Premier League winner in tatters.
Just a few weeks ago, Liverpool were on course for a potential quadruple but have come off the rails, said AFP.
A run of four wins in nine games has seen Klopp's men crash out of the Europa League and FA Cup as well as falling off the pace at the top of the Premier League.
Liverpool trail leaders Arsenal by three points and are only one point ahead of defending champions Manchester City, who have two games in hand.
AFP Sport looks at what has gone wrong to leave Klopp's fitting farewell at risk of fizzling out.
Slow starts
Liverpool's habit of fighting back from losing positions was lauded earlier in the campaign as a sign of the "mentality monsters" Klopp has created throughout his time at Anfield.
They have amassed 27 points after falling behind in the Premier League alone this season, but have seen their luck run out after falling behind to Crystal Palace and Everton in shock defeats over the past 10 days.
In all competitions, Liverpool have conceded the opening goal 22 times this season.
They never recovered from a sluggish start at Goodison as Everton wasted a number of chances and had a penalty overturned by VAR even before Jarrad Branthwaite opened the scoring on 27 minutes.
Wasteful finishing
Liverpool's forward line has also gone off the boil come the business end of the season.
They have failed to score from open play in four of their last five games.
Mohamed Salah has looked out of sorts since returning from a hamstring injury picked up at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez were again guilty of wasting huge chances against Everton.
And Diogo Jota, often heralded as the most natural finisher at the club, has been sidelined again by injury after just returning from a two-month layoff.
"You can see we are in a rush in front of goal," said Klopp. "We create a lot but we don't score often enough.
"You can see that and that's the problem. You have to fight through these periods. It's not a problem of attitude, the boys want it but it is my job to bring them into a situation where they feel confident to do it."
Fatigue
The quest for the quadruple could now be coming back to haunt Klopp as Liverpool look to have run out of steam.
They have played 54 games this season and will have four more before the end of the campaign.
A number of academy graduates stepped up during an injury crisis in the early months of 2024 and helped ensure Klopp did at least secure some silverware in his final season by winning the League Cup in February.
Yet, just as they are getting major players back with Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold returning in recent weeks, those that have been relied on most during the winter months are fading.
Klopp admitted after the Palace match that midfield duo Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo are struggling due to the burden placed upon them earlier in the campaign.
"Players who played all the games are less fresh but it is the same for the other teams. I don't want that to be an excuse," added Klopp.
"A lot of things come together so it is not great timing. I would prefer to be sitting here winning 4-0 and flying but the job is to win football games and the more you win, the more successful you are.
"In the moment we didn’t win enough to get anything from the season."


Hernandez on Target as Columbus Down Monterrey in Champions Cup Semi

Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
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Hernandez on Target as Columbus Down Monterrey in Champions Cup Semi

Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Cucho Hernandez was on target as Columbus Crew defeated Mexico's Monterrey 2-1 in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final first leg clash in Ohio on Wednesday.
Colombian forward Hernandez delivered a sparkling performance capped with a well-taken first-half goal to help Columbus take a slender advantage into next week's return in Mexico, said AFP.
Jacen Russell-Rowe headed home the winner for Columbus from a corner on 72 minutes after Maximiliano Meza had leveled for Monterrey just after half-time.
The Major League Soccer champions -- who produced a stunning upset of Mexican side Tigres in the quarter-finals -- once again proved to be more than a match for Liga-MX opposition.
Monterrey started brightly and could have taken the lead through US international forward Brandon Vazquez, whose snap shot from six yards out was well-saved by Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte after six minutes.
But after that early scare, Columbus dominated for long periods, with Hernandez at the heart of most of their attacks at Lower Field.
The Colombian almost set up an opener for Diego Rossi on 17 minutes, but the Uruguayan directed his attempted finish just wide of the post.
Moments later Hernandez saw a vicious shot well-saved by Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada.
Columbus's pressure paid off after 26 minutes though, with Hernandez working a one-two with Russell-Rowe on the edge of the area and finishing crisply past Andrada for 1-0.
Hernandez almost doubled the Crew lead on the stroke of half-time, but was once again denied by Andrada as the besieged Monterrey goalkeeper beat away a superb shot.
Columbus were rocked on 58 minutes though when Monterrey equalized. Jesus Gallardo ghosted past Sean Zawadzki far too easily down the left and crossed for Meza who jabbed in the finish.
But Zawadzki made amends on 72 minutes, delivering the corner which picked out Russell-Rowe at the far post whose header bounced up and into the net past Andrada.
The second leg takes place in Monterrey next Wednesday.


Medvedev Hoping for More Clay Success with Simon in His Corner 

Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
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Medvedev Hoping for More Clay Success with Simon in His Corner 

Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)

Daniil Medvedev believes the addition of Gilles Simon to his coaching team can help him understand clay better as the world number four looks to build confidence on his least favorite surface ahead of the French Open starting next month.

Medvedev has won 19 of his 20 titles, including the 2021 US Open, on hardcourts, with a grasscourt crown that same year at the Mallorca Open. He won his lone claycourt trophy at the 2023 Rome Masters in the lead-up to Roland Garros.

Medvedev, who was runner-up at the Australian Open in January, did not have a great start to the claycourt season after losing early in Monte Carlo this month.

However, he said he could see improvements in his game under Simon, who won five tour-level trophies on clay.

"He tries to bring something to my game, which maybe I thought of, but didn't understand how I should bring it on the court," Medvedev told reporters at the Madrid Open.

"He explains how I can do it and for me then it's important because during the match you don't have time to think too much. It's more of a reaction. So I have to be smart to not overthink what he says. Overthink it in practice, maybe, but not during the match.

"I feel like in Monte Carlo, because we talked a lot about playing ... I maybe thought too much about 'OK, next shot, what do I do?' Where I actually had to play more.

"It's very interesting and for the moment it's working great. I'm looking forward to learning more things."

Medvedev begins his Madrid campaign against Christopher O'Connell or Matteo Arnaldi.


Pochettino Frustrated by Chelsea’s Inconsistency After Thrashing at Arsenal 

Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
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Pochettino Frustrated by Chelsea’s Inconsistency After Thrashing at Arsenal 

Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was left frustrated by his team's inconsistency after their 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal in the Premier League on Tuesday, which came just days after they pushed Manchester City hard in a tight FA Cup semi-final loss.

Leandro Trossard opened the scoring at the Emirates before Ben White and former Chelsea player Kai Havertz both scored twice in the second half to seal the north London club's biggest-ever win in the fixture.

The defeat came after Chelsea had gone eight matches unbeaten in the league, and dealt a blow to their hopes of claiming a European place next season.

"When we have bad days, we are so bad. When we are good, we are capable of everything," Pochettino told reporters.

"We cannot blame the players, I'm not going to blame the players. We cannot blame young guys who came here and after suffering some circumstances, come here to fight against a team preparing to win the Premier League.

"It is true we are disappointed with our performance, but I am not going to say something which is unfair to describe our team, our players, our squad."

Chelsea next face a trip to fourth-placed Aston Villa on Saturday, before hosting fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on May 2.


Sinner Not Heaping Pressure on Himself with Top Ranking in Sight 

Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
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Sinner Not Heaping Pressure on Himself with Top Ranking in Sight 

Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)

World number two Jannik Sinner can close in on Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings by lifting the Madrid Open title but the in-form Italian said he is not putting any extra pressure on himself after a superb start to the season.

With Djokovic skipping the Masters tournament to stay in top shape for the Grand Slams and the Olympic Games, Australian Open champion Sinner would pick up 1,000 points and move to within 330 of the Serb if he wins his fourth trophy of 2024.

"I don't want to put pressure on myself. I'm living a very positive moment, winning a lot of matches, I just try to keep going like this," Sinner, who has lost only two of his 27 matches this year, told reporters.

"In my mind, I know that I can and have to improve if I want to win more. I'm searching for new opportunities and I feel like that every tournament I play, there can be a good opportunity to show that my level has raised.

"Showing what I've improved ... that's for sure something I'd like to do here. This is a new opportunity, new tournament and we'll see how it goes."

Defending Madrid champion Carlos Alcaraz said Sinner was the man to beat ahead of the May 26-June 9 French Open Grand Slam.

"He's dangerous. He's the best player in the world right now," world number three Alcaraz said.

"I think (some people) think his tennis doesn't suit well to the clay, but he's had results on clay as well.

"He can win every tournament he goes to, and obviously I'm fighting with him and Novak to be number one. I'm trying to stay there, but honestly it's going to be difficult."


Salt Lake City Poised for 2034 Olympics Award 

Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Salt Lake City Poised for 2034 Olympics Award 

Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)

Salt Lake City is all but guaranteed to be awarded the 2034 Winter Olympics later this year and officials said its robust infrastructure and enthusiastic public support have paved the way.

Utah's capital city hosted the Games back in 2002 and International Olympic Committee representatives recently toured the city and heard plans for its "no-build" Games.

No other cities are in the running for the 2034 Games. Salt Lake City 2034 and France 2030 were picked as preferred hosts for the Winter Olympics in November.

"They got the opportunity to see our venues and how they are still thriving," Catherine Raney-Norman, chair of the Salt Lake City - Utah Committee for the Games, told Reuters in an interview.

"They left excited with what they had seen. It was extremely positive."

While other cities have soured on the idea of hosting an Olympics for fears of cost overruns that is not the case in Salt Lake City, where the legacy of the 2002 Games endures.

"Our polling has shown that we have over 80% public support," said Raney-Norman, a four-time Olympic speed skater.

"That's amazing. And we've had that consistently for the past 20 years."

Ensuring the public remains on board is one of the challenges that comes with having a 10-year leadup to the opening ceremony.

"Our challenge is making sure we maintain that enthusiasm and also making sure we have intentional impact on our community," she said.

"We don't have to build buildings so our headline in 2034 is going to be based on our impact in the community more so than standing up a new building."

The Winter Olympics have grown by about 40% since Salt Lake City hosted them last as more sports and disciplines have been added but the city can handle the additional action, Raney-Norman said.

"We know that within our venues and within our technical side that we can execute on those events," she said.

"We're embracing it, we're excited about it."

New events like big air could be held at a temporary downtown venue while the University of Utah will serve as the athlete village, she said.

Salt Lake City initially wanted to bid for the 2030 Games but dropped plans due to it being too close to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The IOC is expected to formally name the city as host on July 24.

Hosting an Olympics within 10 years of LA28 is a "generational opportunity" for the United States and Raney-Norman said dialogue is already happening between the organizing committees.

"As we look to a future award and Salt Lake hopefully officially being named the host for 2034, we see opportunities and synergies as we continue to collaborate," she said.

"This is an opportunity to elevate the Olympic and Paralympic movement in the United States and that requires collaboration between the two groups."


Jeddah to Host Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
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Jeddah to Host Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).

Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Governorate will host the Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship for the first time under the theme "Saudi Smash" from May 1 to 11, with the participation of a group of elite international players in the game.

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The championship, hosted by the Kingdom for the first time, will consist of two phases. The first phase is the preparatory stage, scheduled from May 1 to 3. During this stage, 64 players, including Saudis, will compete to advance to the second stage, known as the finals, which begins on May 4. Only 8 players will progress to the finals. The eight players will then compete alongside 56 other world-class players in the elimination rounds to vie for titles in the five tournaments: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles.
The event reflects the significant development of the sports sector in Saudi Arabia, aligning with the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to make the sports sector a direct contributor to the progress, prosperity, and development of the Kingdom across all fields.


Paris Mayor Confident Water Quality Will Allow Olympic Swimming in River Seine

Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
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Paris Mayor Confident Water Quality Will Allow Olympic Swimming in River Seine

Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said she was confident water quality in the River Seine will be up to Olympic standards this summer — and that she’ll be able to prove it by swimming there, possibly alongside President Emmanuel Macron.

The Seine is the venue for marathon swimming at the Games and the swimming leg of the Olympic and Paralympic triathlons.

Asked Tuesday about whether she’ll meet her promise to swim in the Seine before the Games, Hidalgo said “for sure, because water quality will be good.”

For decades, the Seine was too toxic for most fish and for swimmers, useful mainly as a waterway to transport goods and people or as a watery grave for discarded bicycles and other trash. Swimming in the Seine has, with some exceptions, been illegal since 1923.

Hidalgo mentioned new facilities that have been specially built to clean up the river, whose water quality was recently denounced by an environmental group.

A water treatment plant in Champigny-sur-Marne, east of Paris, was inaugurated Tuesday.

Next week will see the official opening of a huge storage basin meant to reduce the need to spill bacteria-laden wastewater into the Seine untreated when it rains. The giant hole dug next to Paris’ Austerlitz train station will hold the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools of dirty water that will now be treated rather than being spat raw through storm drains into the river.

Hildago said she had invited top officials to swim in the Seine at an event dubbed “the big dive” to be staged at the end of June or beginning of July. Macron, who himself promised to swim in the river, has been invited, she confirmed, as well as Paris Olympics organizers and IOC president Thomas Bach.

“We’re going to dive into the Seine, and many volunteers have already come forward to come and dive with me and all the athletes who will be there,” Hidalgo said. “We’ll all be safe to swim in the Seine.”

Marc Guillaume, the Paris regional prefect, earlier this month dismissed a recent NGO report about poor water quality, saying it was based on testing during the winter, when no one was swimming in the Seine.

Water quality must be good enough for swimming during the Games and, from 2025, in the summer, because the city plans to open some areas to the public. However, swimming out of season will remain illegal.

The estimated cost of the Seine cleanup efforts amount to 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion), paid by the state and local authorities.

Guillaume said routine water testing will start on June 1 when all the new treatment facilities are operational. During the Olympics, water will be tested at 3 a.m. each day and determine whether to hold events as planned, he detailed.

Olympics organizers said if pollution levels were too high, events could be rescheduled and in the worst-case scenario, the swimming section of the triathlon would be canceled.

In a recent report, the Surfrider Foundation called the Seine “a particularly polluted spot” after it monitored bacteria levels for over six months. The group concluded that athletes “will be swimming in polluted water and taking significant risks to their health.”

The Paris mayor's news conference on Tuesday was meant to unveil cultural and sports celebrations to be staged on 26 sites across Paris during the summer.

“We are working together to ensure that the party is beautiful,” Hidalgo said, adding that security is the authorities' top concern.

Around 30,000 police officers are expected to be deployed each day during the Games, with 45,000 working during the opening ceremony on the Seine.

“We work ... with a lot of professionalism and determination so that never, ever the issue of security finally comes to prevent our freedom to be able to live together,” Hidalgo said.