April 14, 2021

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FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori announces his resignation as he takes responsibility for his sexist comments at a meeting with council and executive board members at the committee headquarters, in Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2021. Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
The panel charged with finding a new Tokyo Olympics chief after a sexism row began talks on Tuesday as campaigners called for more transparency in the selection process.
The eight-person committee convened for the first time to discuss choosing a successor to Yoshiro Mori, 83, who stepped down Friday after his claims that women talk too much in meetings sparked widespread outrage.
The panel “discussed the qualities required of a new president,” according to Tokyo 2020 organizers, and agreed on five selection criteria.
But campaigners said the process should be made more transparent, with Games chiefs declining to identify the members of the panel, which was expected to have a 50-50 gender split.
The postponed 2020 Games are set to begin in July, with officials and organizers insisting they will go ahead despite doubts over the event’s viability given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The formation of the new panel, headed by 85-year-old Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, was announced Friday after Mori’s reported attempts to hand-pick 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi as his successor was met with opposition.
“Now they say they won’t reveal who the members are of the committee to choose the next chief,” Kazuko Fukuda, a campaigner for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, told AFP.
“So it’s really like the whole process will take place in secret again.”
‘DEEP UNDERSTANDING’
Equality campaigners handed a petition with more than 150,000 signatures to Tokyo 2020 organizers on Tuesday morning, urging them to put concrete measures in place to prevent further discrimination.
The selection committee laid out five criteria for choosing a new president — sporting knowledge, international experience, management skills, familiarity with the Tokyo Games organization and “deep understanding” of Olympic principles, including “gender equality, diversity and inclusion.”
The committee pledged to select candidates “as swiftly as possible”, with local media suggesting a new president could be named before the end of the week.
Reports said Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, Japanese Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita and former hammer-thrower Koji Murofushi are among those in contention.
Hashimoto — one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet — was reported as saying Tuesday that she had not been approached about taking over.
“It should be done with transparency,” she said. “I hope we can get the new structure in place quickly.”
Reports said the selection panel is expected to meet again on Wednesday to draw up a list of nominees.
The final choice must be endorsed by Tokyo 2020’s executive board.

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It has been more than a year of inaction for Roger Federer now. He last played at the Australian Open 2020, where the Swiss maestro saw a straight-set loss against the Serbian Novak Djokovic. It was a tough series for him where he had to test his physical limits in 2 five-setters.  The 20-time grand slam champion later in the same year underwent double knee surgeries. All of this kept him away from the tennis court even after various countries lifted lockdown and the sport made a much-awaited return. However, the latest news is a big positive for the Federer camp. Martina Navratilova reflected on the comeback of Roger Federer The Swiss great will make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Also, the latest development suggests that he can then play an ATP 500 tournament in nearby Dubai.  In a recent interview, a jovial Martina Navratilova learned the news and reacted with some humor. The 18-time women’s Grand Slam champion expressed, “I think he just wants to stay in Burj Al Arab again, but amazing! “It’s great to see Roger back, it’s about time for him sitting for over a year. So I’m glad he’s healthy and playing again.”  That he is coming back with an ATP 250 will ensure that he does not have to put too much pressure on himself for advancing deeper in the event. Prior to this, there were headlines that alleged Roger was fit enough to return for Australian Open 2021 and that he decided against it because of family reasons. Can the Ninjafed make a successful return? Roger Federer gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during the 2019 Hopman Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Well, it might be an ATP 250, but it has participation from some of the best ATP players. The 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the ATP Cup 2021 hero Andrey Rublev, and of course King Roger himself will stay in the highlight of the event. Apart from these names, there are six players from the Top-20 that’ll make the competition juicier. From Roger’s Swiss companion Stan Wawrinka to Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and others, it will not be an easy draw for the legendary 39-YO. However, the rusty Federer is also the mighty Federer, and he has always dominated all the aforementioned names with his stinging play. Also notably, his participation in the Dubai event will depend on how his body reacts to the Qatar event. The event will kick off on March 8th and the world will cheer for the arguable GOAT. READ MORE- Why is Roger Federer Considered the GOAT?

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Romelu Lukaku leads the Serie A Team of the Week following his excellent performance for Inter at home to Lazio.Antonio Conte’s men secured a vital 3-1 home victory which allowed them to leapfrog Milan into top spot in the table and into pole position to claim the Scudetto.Lukaku (8.4) played a part in all three goals, initially scoring from the penalty spot before earning his second with a flashed right-footed snapshot past the goalkeeper from the edge of the box which was only given after VAR Intervened.His best moment of the match was arguably his assist, though, as he showed devastating pace, power, and determination to barge down the right wing, leaving Marco Parolo for dead before setting up Lautaro Martinez for a tap in.Lorenzo Insigne (7.4) and Domenico Berardi (7.9) join the big Belgian in the front three after scoring for Napoli and Sassuolo respectively. The Napoli man converted from the penalty spot as the Partenopei defeated Juventus 1-0.Another Sassuolo player features in our XI in Manuel Locatelli (7.6), who completed 88/96 attempted passes and had more touches of the ball than any other player in this round of fixtures with 125.Jordan Veretout (7.8) scored two goals from midfield as Roma beat Udinese 3-0 with relative comfort.Making up the midfield three is Fiorentina’s Erick Pulgar (7.7), who won an impressive 11/15 duels, albeit in defeat against Sampdoria.One of the most surprising results of the weekend saw Spezia defeat league leaders Milan 2-0. Simone Bastoni (7.7) scored one of the goals and slots in at left-back.Gianluca Mancini (8.1) and veteran defender Kamil Glik (8.0) feature in the centre of our defence.Berat Djimsiti (7.8) had 108 touches of the ball and completed 83/94 attempted passes for Atalanta.Napoli understandably had to weather a storm of sorts against Juve, but had Alex Meret (8.2) in goal to rely on as he made six saves to earn his clean sheet bonus.Serie A TEAM OF THE WEEK

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February 16, 2021
Matthew Pitt

Tetris® combines with Spin & Go tournaments at PokerStars in a fun promotion that sees $1.5 million paid out between February 15 and March 28.
Head to the Spin & Go lobby in the PokerStars client and you’ll see there are Tetris® Spin & Go games with buy-ins of $0.25, $1, $2, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, and $500. They all play out the exact same way as a traditional Spin & Go, meaning they’re three-handed hyper-turbo tournaments where the prize pool is randomly determined before the first hand is dealt.
It’s still possible to win up to $1 million in some of these game, but there are a few notable differences.
First, the virtual felt is made up of Tetris® blocks, which actually looks pretty cool. Also, the dealer button is now a Tetris® block too, and other blocks fall down the screen.
The Tetris® part of the promotion comes in the form of leaderboards. There’s a separate leaderboard for each Tetris® Spin & Go buy-in level, so 10 in total. You need to opt-in and then fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
Play your tournaments as you would ordinarily, but do so knowing the aim of the game is to clear lines, just like in Tetris®. The number of lines you clear depends on your Spin & Go multiplier and your finishing position in the tournament.
Your level increases each time you clear five lines. This results in you earning even more points so you can climb up your leaderboard faster.
The 2021 Guide to PokerStars Spin and Go Poker
How Many Lines Do I Clear?
 1st2nd3rd

2×432

3×321

Over 3×211

As you can see from the table above, finishing in 1st place in a Tetris® Spin & Go that has a 2x multiplier clears four lines. Just playing a tournament earns you points.
How Do You Earn Points?
The number of leaderboard points you earn is based on your finishing position and your current level. You start off earning 40 points for clearing one line when you’re at Level 0, but this increases to 840 points if you manage to climb to Level 20, which is the highest level you can achieve.
It is possible to earn up to 25,200 points per Tetris® Spin & Go tournament, as you can see in this table.
LevelPoints for 1 LinePoints for 2 LinesPoints for 3 LinesPoints four 4 Lines

0401003001,200

1802006002,400

21203009003,600

31604001,2004,800

n=40*(n+1)=100*(n+1)=300*(n+1)=1,200*(n+1)

208402,1006,30025,200

Tetris® Spin & Go Payout Table
The leaderboards payout $33,000 every day throughout the promotion making for a combined total of $1,500,000 just for playing Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
The $0.25, $1, $2, and $5 leaderboard payout the top 100 points earners, so you have a decent chance of walking away with a cash prize. The prizes don’t have any restrictions on them meaning you’re free to do with them as you wish.
 $0.25$1$2$5$10$25$50$100$250$500

1$50$150$250$400$500$500$750$1,000$1,500$3,000

2$40$100$200$300$400$400$600$800$1,000 

3$30$75$150$250$350$350$500$600$750 

4$20$50$100$200$300$300$400$500$500 

5$15$25$50$150$250$250$300$400$500 

6-10$10$20$40$100$150$150$150$200  

11-20$5$10$20$50$100$100$100$100  

21-50$5$5$10$25$50$50    

51-100$5$5$5$10      

Spin & Go Your Way to a PokerStars Sunday Million Seat
The Tetris® Playing Field – Avoid Hitting Game Over
There’s an extra element to this promotion that you have to be aware of at all times. PokerStars calls it the Playing Field.
Just like in a game of Tetris® where it is Game Over when the blocks reach the top of the screen, it can be game over for you if you go on a streak of out of the money finishes!
Finishing in first place either improves your Playing Field status or makes zero change to it. Finish in second place, however, and your Playing Field status either stays the same or actually worsens, which is also the case when you finish in third place.
Your table, or playing field, is green in color when your Playing Field is in a good state. It turns amber when it is worsening and turns red when you’re in big trouble. Failing to win when your playing field is red could see you reach Game Over which means you cannot earn any more leaderboard points until the next day!
The changes to your playing field status depend on your current level.
 1st place 2nd place 3rd place  

LevelImproveNo ChangeNo ChanceWorsenNo ChangeWorsen 

0-1100%0%100%0%100%0% 

2-580%20%80%20%50%50% 

6-960%40%60%40%40%60% 

10-1340%60%40%60%30%70% 

14-1720%80%20%80%200%80% 

18-2020%80%20%80%10%90% 

Get Involved in the Tetris® Spin & Go Promotion
With $33,000 waiting to be won every day until March 28 there’s no time to waste if you want to win some free cash.
Download PokerStars via PokerNews, enter the bonus code “STARS600” when making your first deposit and PokerStars will match your deposit 100% up to $600. In fact, your first three deposits in a 90-day window are matched 100% up to a combined maximum of $600.
All you need to do then is opt-in and fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments and see if you can pad your bankroll with some of the $1.5 million that’s guaranteed to be won. That and try not to spend the rest of the day humming the famous Tetris® tune!
The Stars Group is a majority shareholder in Oddschecker Global Media, the parent company of PokerNews.

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The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is asking football clubs to refrain from discussing and promoting gambling on their social media sites in as part of an effort to avoid triggering problem gamblers. It’s move that may seem extreme to the layman, but will likely help keep UK gambling operators a step ahead of UK gambling regulators.
Guidelines for how football clubs should handle discussions of gambling were sent out by the BGC late last week and utilize a plea from 50 former gambling addicts to make the case. They pointed out that seeing their favorite club site promoting gambling caused them “distress” and “encouraged” them to place wagers.
As an effort to avoid these triggering moments, the BGC is recommending that football clubs refrain from promoting gambling operators or bonus offers and their “organic tweets”. This is a nod to the reality that gambling offers are ubiquitous on social media and that no one is really more than a click or two away from them on the internet anyways.
BGC officials sent a letter detailing the new code of conduct to 11 football clubs, as well as to social media operators.
In a statement reported on by SBC News, Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chairman of the BGC described the importance of the new standards saying, “Our members rightly have a zero tolerance approach to gambling by under-18s, so as an industry we are understandably concerned that children may be exposed to betting adverts on social media platforms. Our new guidelines make clear the standards expected of football clubs when they post gambling promotions on social media, and I look forward to them being put into practice as soon as possible.”
The BGC guidelines are not legally binding, but members of the BGC who wish to remain in good standing are expected to abide by them.
The post BGC ices gambling talk on football social media sites appeared first on .

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Alexander Zverev’s ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea has slammed the German for using their unborn child to boost his own public image despite not being in contact with her during her pregnancy.Patea, a German model, announced in October 2020 that she was pregnant with Alexander Zverev’s daughter. She was in a relationship with Zverev until July of last year, and is currently 36 weeks into the pregnancy.Patea had declared at first that she had no plans of sharing custody of their child with Zverev, before subsequent public statements made it seem like the two were on amicable terms.But in her recent interview with German tabloid ‘Bild’, Patea revealed that the pair have had no contact for two months. The 27-year-old claimed that they last spoke when another ex-girlfriend, Olga Sharypova, accused Zverev of domestic violence during their relationship.”I’ve been reading many of Alex’s (Zverev) interviews and I ask myself what he wants to achieve by saying these things,” Patea said. “‘Highlight of his life’? ‘He’s extremely happy’? ‘Highest priority’? I can hardly believe that because we aren’t in contact thus far and he hasn’t reached out.”(Patea’s interview with Bild was in German, and the quotes were translated into English by Twitter users fluent in both languages).Someone asked me to translate this so I’ll share it here too. Brenda is asked in her latest stories about Zverev. I translated her answers. In the background she shows excerpts of his latest interview. My summary: Zverev is full of lies and he’s shown it time and time again. pic.twitter.com/Xq2H1pYuXW— Nawal (@NawalNadal) February 15, 2021Brenda Patea was further asked if she shares the details of the pregnancy and of their unborn daughter with Alexander Zverev. But the model said there had been no contact of any kind and no initiative from Zverev’s side. Patea added that she was tired of people assuming otherwise based on the tennis star’s interviews.

“I just wanted peace and quiet. But so many people are telling me, ‘It’s great that you’re in contact (with Zverev) and that he’s interested’. I’ve had enough of his ‘perfect’ interviews. Be honest for once,” Patea added.”If Alexander Zverev is saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too” – Brenda Patea Brenda Patea cheers on Alexander Zverev during the couple’s happier timesJust hours after Brenda Patea announced her pregnancy in October, another of Alexander Zverev’s ex-girlfriends – Olga Sharypova – accused the US Open finalist of being physically and emotionally abusive towards her during their time together.Sharypova dated Zverev for a year before the NextGen star got together with Brenda Patea. The Russian claimed that Zverev had been physically abusive several times, and specifically mentioned an episode during the 2019 Laver Cup. The incident, in her words, drove Sharypova towards an attempt at ending her life, before she was rescued by hotel staff.Also read: Djokovic’s sympathetic support of Zverev, and the silence of Federer & Nadal, highlight tennis’ insensitivity towards abuse

At the time, there was speculation that Brenda Patea’s refusal to share custody of their future child with Alexander Zverev was an indication that he had been unpleasant towards Patea too. But the German model quickly denied any such rumors.Following the denial, there was a tacit understanding in the media that Alexander Zverev and Brenda Patea were planning to raise their daughter together. That, however, was a misconception, as revealed now by Patea.”We had contact two months ago when the thing with his ex (Sharypova) came out but that was it,” Patea said. “It’s stupid to do this in the media. But if he’s saying these things in interviews then I can finally say something about it too.”If the tone of Patea’s answers is anything to go by, it seems like Alexander Zverev has been using his “happiness” on becoming a father as a way to repair his public image after Olga Sharypova’s accusations. It remains to be seen how the 23-year-old reacts to this new development, especially since he is still alive in the ongoing Australian Open.
Published 16 Feb 2021, 12:22 IST

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Every week we pick 22 of the best performing players in Europe’s top five leagues and, with your help, narrow it down to the best XI.

Using polls on our Instagram stories, we pit players in each position against each other and let you decide who deserves to make the cut.
Follow our Instagram page to get involved.

Here’s what our latest European Team of the Week looks like:
GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

Earned his 12th clean sheet of the season and Villa a point in difficult circumstances. Brighton were well on top and exerted pressure on his goal, but a stunning nine saves kept them at bay.

RB: Matthew Lowton (Burnley)
Undoubtedly his best performances of the season, excelling at both ends of the pitch. Lowton made three tackles, three interceptions and five clearances in a fine defensive display but really caught the eye in attack with three key passes and one outstanding volley to score at the end of a superb run.
CB: Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina)
Solid at the back and certainly didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. Stood out with 11 defensive actions in a 2-1 defeat to Sampdoria, including five interceptions and he even managed to hit the woodwork at the other end.
CB: Diego Carlos (Sevilla)
A rock at the back as Sevilla secured a 1-0 victory at home to Huesca. Made a staggering 11 clearances in the process and was good on the ball, boasting a success rate of 92.7 per cent.
LB: Ola Aina (Fulham)
Perfect ball across for Josh Maja to score the first goal at the end of a fluid Fulham attack. He put in a shift in defence as well. No one made more than his five clearances during the 2-0 win over Everton.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City)
The Premier League’s Player of the Month continued in his rich vein of form. He was excellent in midfield and tormented Tottenham with his well-timed runs forward, bagging a brace. He sat Davinson Sanchez down before slotting home for his second goal.

CM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Dictated the tempo of the game with his exceptional distribution. The German played 107 passes at 94.4-per-cent accuracy. He picked up an assist for the opener and then passed the ball into the back of the net with ease to get himself on the score sheet as well.
CM: Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Took his goal superbly, showing great strength to hold off the defender before checking back onto his weaker right foot and dispatching the finish with aplomb. He posed a constant threat with a game-high five shots in the 2-1 win at Villarreal.
FW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Vintage Messi, skipping past challenges and scoring from range. He hammered in his first in emphatic fashion, but his second was a thing of beauty, curling a sublime effort into the corner from the edge of the box with minimal back-lift. He even bagged an assist, by setting up Trincao.

FW: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)
Reached 300 goals for club and country by scoring a brace in a 3-1 win over Lazio that fired Inter to the top of Serie A. He made no mistake from the spot and then took advantage of some suspect defending for his second. He then showed immense pace and power to assist Lautaro Martinez on the break.
FW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds and even hit the woodwork. He cut in expertly to score the opener, converted a penalty and then headed home Emile Smith-Rowe’s cross.
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There could be an interesting battle in the Europa League on Thursday evening, as Manchester United and Real Sociedad meet in Turin in the first leg of their round of 32 clash.

Europa League Preview
Manchester United would have been disappointed to drop into the Europa League after strong showings in their first two Champions League group stage fixtures. However, defeat against RB Leipzig in the final group stage match left the Red Devils in third place in their group. Their route for European glory hasn’t been made any easier after being drawn against La Liga side Real Sociedad. However, United will be optimistic regarding their chances, as there have been strong showings by the side over the past 12 months. Their away record is certainly outstanding, as they haven’t lost a domestic game on the road for over 12 months. United will be looking to finally break the mental block that they have endured over recent seasons when it comes to semi-finals, as they have lost their last four across the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Sociedad will not be an easy game for the Red Devils, as the Spanish side have once again been able to find their best form. For a long time, Sociedad looked certainties to finish in a Champions League spot this season, and when the draw was made for this stage of the Europa League, they were sitting in the top two. After a patchy run of form, Sociedad have been able to rediscover their best form over recent games, as they have picked up two wins on the bounce. That is the kind of form that they will need to come into this game with to stand the best chance of progression.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United Head To Head
This will only be the third time that Manchester United and Real Sociedad have locked horns. They last met in the 2013-14 Champions League campaign, with United winning once and drawing the game that was played in Spain. United’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford came courtesy of an own goal from Martinez Berridi.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United Prediction
Avoiding defeat in the first leg of a European tie is always the pivotal factor when it comes to knockout football. United will be happy to come away from Spain with a draw, and that also wouldn’t be the worst result for Sociedad.
Make sure to bet on Real Sociedad vs Manchester with 22Bet!

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Chennai: India captain Virat Kohli said Tuesday his side showed more “grit” and “determination” to thrash England in the second Test, playing down complaints about the difficult pitch.
With local hero Ravichandran Ashwin claiming eight wickets in the match and scoring 106 in the second innings, India completed a 317-run victory inside four days in Chennai.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel claimed a five-wicket haul on his Test debut as England were out for 164 while chasing an unlikely 482 on day four.
Some said the Chennai pitch, which crumbled from nearly the first day, was not fit for a Test.
But England made no public complaint and Kohli rejected the criticism and said his side played a “perfect game”.
“I think our application with the bat was outstanding,” said the India captain.
“The conditions were challenging for both sides but we showed more application and grit and determination to battle it out.
“We didn’t panic out there looking at the hard turn and bounce on that pitch.”
Kohli highlighted that India scored 600 runs over two innings despite the conditions, and winning the toss made no difference.
“So if you put up that kind of batting performance and you string in those important batting partnerships then we know that our bowlers are going to do the job.”
England ‘outplayed
England captain Joe Root conceded that his side were “outplayed in all three departments this week” and had to learn quickly before the third Test in Ahmedabad.
But he added: “I would say it was a challenging wicket. I do think that it was an important toss to win.”
England, he said, now have to be “honest” and learn quickly to adapt to conditions in India.
England, struggling since the opening day, kept losing wickets after resuming on 53-3 on day four.
Root departed for 33 soon after lunch, falling to Patel.
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav joined in to finish off the innings, taking Moeen Ali after he smashed 43 off 18 balls.
The last wicket partnership of 38 between Ali and Stuart Broad, unbeaten on five, was England’s highest of the match.
England, who have been resting and rotating players, said Ali would be returning home after the Test.
Ali had coronavirus in Sri Lanka but recovered to take a total of eight wickets in the second Test against India.
Ashwin’s five wickets to help bowl out England for 134 in the first innings in response to India’s 329 set the tone for the host’s dominance.
England conceded a lead of 195 and then struggled on a pitch that offered turn from day one.
“This wicket was very different to the one we played on in the first game,” Ashwin conceded, but he added that the wickets had not fallen from the balls he expected.
“It was the mind of the batsmen that got us wickets.”
Opener Rohit Sharma hit an attacking 161 to set up India’s big innings after they won the toss and elected to bat first.
Sharma’s seventh Test century and his first against England raised the pitch of the returning Indian crowd — present in a stadium for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.
Kohli made 62 in the second innings, putting on a key 96-run seventh-wicket partnership with Ashwin on day three.
Both sides need to win the series to take the second place in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand later this year.
The third Test — a day-night match — will begin in Ahmedabad on February 24.
Authorities have not said if fans will be allowed into the world’s biggest cricket stadium — with a 100,000-plus capacity — for the game.
Read: England thrashes India by 227 runs in first Chennai Test
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As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.

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