Chinese football stars and officials held in Xi’s corruption crackdown

Stadiums are reopening but detentions of major football figures overshadow the sport, as scandal engulfs basketball

Sergio Agüero may be one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but he won an even rarer accolade in 2015, when he became the first – and last – Premier League footballer to take a selfie with Xi Jinping, China’s football-loving leader.

The photo, taken at Manchester City’s stadium – with then prime minister David Cameron – comes from an era when Xi was fostering warm relations with the UK and pushing China to become a world football superpower by 2050, both ambitions that seem distant possibilities today.

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Filled with doubt, division and Covid, Tokyo braces for Olympics

After a year’s delay, the Games begin this week. But it is an event that few in a fearful host nation now want as infections rise again

The joy and anticipation that greeted the International Olympic Committee’s decision in 2013 to award the 2020 Games to Tokyo feels like it belongs in another age, let alone a different decade.

With less than a week to go before Jill Biden and fewer than 1,000 VIPs watch the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at an otherwise empty main stadium, the people of the host nation are bracing themselves for a Games that few want, and which many fear will leave a public health legacy that overshadows achievements in the sporting arena.

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Japan’s rising sun flag is not a symbol of militarism | Letter
Ohtaka Masato of Japan’s foreign affairs ministry says his country’s flag should not be banned at the 2020 Olympics

Alexis Dudden’s opinion piece presents an argument on the rising sun flag based on the misunderstanding of Japan’s sincere dealings with the past (Japan’s rising sun flag has a history of horror. It must be banned at the Tokyo Olympics, 1 November).

Looking at Prime Minister Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war – issued by cabinet consensus – it is clear that Japan has squarely faced the facts of history and repeatedly expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war, which this opinion piece fails to recognise.

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