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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Froome recovery 'almost complete'

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome said on Sunday his recovery from the horror crash which almost ended his career is "pretty much complete".

The 34-year-old suffered multiple fractures and spent months in rehabilitation after a gust of wind hurtled him into a wall at 50 kilometres an hour during a recon at the Criterium du Dauphine in June last year.

He only returned fully to the saddle in February at the UAE Tour which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The recovery is going really well - I'd go as far as saying it's pretty much complete," Froome told the Team Ineos YouTube channel after taking part in a virtual race alongside fellow Tour de France champions Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal.

"I am still doing some exercises off the bike to strengthen the right side which was injured, but I'm back in normal training again and that's going really well."

Froome is currently in lockdown in the south of France as he awaits the return of racing even though an assault on a fifth Tour title may have to wait.

"I'm staying really busy and obviously I'm doing as much training as I can on the turbo trainer," added Froome.

Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas hopes the Tour de France goes ahead this year as the former champion bids to make the most of his peak years.

Team Ineos rider Thomas won the Tour de France in 2018 and is confident he could earn a second yellow jersey if the race can survive the coronavirus chaos.

The Tour is set to take place between June 27 and July 19, but with sporting events all over the world impacted its chances of surviving as scheduled appear remote.

Thomas appreciates the Tour has to take its place in the greater scheme of things, but the Welshman is still crossing his fingers for the event.*AFP


Taiwan starts baseball season

Taiwan swung into a new baseball season on Sunday -- with one team planning to place robot mannequins in their crowdless stands -- as the island bucked the global trend for scrapping sports events during the coronavirus.

Despite its proximity and trade links with China, Taiwan has so far managed to keep a lid on the pandemic now sweeping the globe.

It enacted travel bans soon after the virus emerged publicly and rolled out comprehensive testing, contact tracing and quarantining.

Some 100 hundred days into the crisis it has fewer than 400 confirmed Covid-19 cases and just six deaths with schools, offices, restaurants and bars largely open.

Large gatherings like religious festivals have been scrapped.
But on Sunday the island's 31st baseball season got underway with Chinatrust Brothers taking on the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions in Taichung.

The games are being played to empty stadiums with fans being told to stay away.

But players are still travelling across the island for fixtures that are broadcast live.

On Saturday, Rakuten Monkeys unveiled robotic mannequins and cardboard cut-outs of fans dressed in home colours and caps at their stadium in northern Taoyuan county.

Some of the robots even banged on drums from the empty stands.

The mechanical stand-ins were ready to cheer Rakuten against Chinatrust Brothers for what would have been the first game of the season on Saturday, but heavy rain led to its cancellation.
Baseball is the most popular sport in Taiwan with some 240 games scheduled for the coming season.

"We are the first pro-baseball league to start playing in the world" during the pandemic, the league said in a statement.
"We welcome everyone to follow the new 2020 season and to relax from their tense lives because of the outbreak."

Unlike so many other places, Taiwan's national basketball and football leagues have also continued to play, albeit behind closed doors.*AFP

MMA shows shelved in Singapore

Two mixed martial arts (MMA) events planned behind closed doors in Singapore this month have been postponed after the city-state tightened restrictions to fight the coronavirus, organizers said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Asia's biggest MMA promotion, One Championship, confirmed that the events, on April 17 and 24, have been postponed.

Two more closed-door events next month could also be shelved because of the tougher restrictions imposed by the city-state, she said.

The worldwide sporting calendar has been left in tatters because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 110,000 people and infected nearly two million.

It was still unclear about the fate of another One Championship event scheduled for May 29 in the Philippines, which is also under a government lockdown.

"We are living through the most extraordinary of times. The good news is that these short-term restrictions will undoubtedly slow down the coronavirus, and flatten the curve," One Championship chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong said in a Facebook post last week.

One Championship initially hoped to hold the Singapore events without fans, but decided to delay them after the city-state last week ordered the closure of schools and non-essential businesses, and asked people to stay home.

Singapore won praise for keeping its outbreak in check in the early stages but has seen a surge in cases this month, with many linked to foreign workers' dormitories.

Health authorities have reported 2,532 COVID-19 cases, including eight deaths.

Last week the US-based UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was forced to scrap controversial plans to stage a fight card behind closed doors at a secret location next weekend after broadcasters pulled out.*AFP


ButtonFroome recovery 'almost complete'
Taiwan starts baseball season
ButtonMMA shows shelved in Singapore

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