Head of climate monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Karl Braganza has warned that the devastating 2019-20 bushfires were not a “one-off event.”
Braganzaon on Monday fronted the first day of hearings for the landmark Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
Braganza said that since 2003 every jurisdiction in Australia has experienced “really significant fire events,” the frequency of which “seem to be increasing.”
“Since the Canberra 2003 fires, every jurisdiction in Australia has seen some really significant fire events that have challenged what we do to respond to them and have really challenged what we thought fire weather looked like preceding this period,” he said.
“These large fire events when you look back over the 19th and 20th century were not as frequent as they were this century.”
More than 10 million hectares of land were burned by the bushfires, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison dubbed the “black summer”, killing more than 30 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
Morrison established the royal commission in February with a focus on Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters and improving natural disaster coordination.
Helen Cleugh, a senior principal research scientist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said that climate change was interacting with and exacerbating previous weather systems in a way never seen before, according to The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“This means that understanding the interaction between climate variability and these drivers and climate change is very important for building preparedness for the changing nature of climate risks into the future,” she said.
“Perhaps put more simply, climate change means that the past is no longer a guide to future climate-related impacts and risks.”
Osaka withdraws from French Open with ‘hamstring’ injury
Japan’s Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury.
The 22-year-old had her left hamstring taped when she battled back against Victoria Azarenka in the United States Open final in New York on Saturday to win her third Grand Slam title.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” the world number three wrote on social media in a message she also posted in Japanese.
“My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time.
“I wish the organizers and players all the best.”
French Open will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hamstring issue had prompted Osaka to withdraw from the final of the Western & Southern Open in the run-up to the United States Open but it did not appear to hamper her at Flushing Meadows.
Osaka made headlines in New York as much for her performances on court as for her commitment to social justice causes.
For each of her United States Open matches she wore a different mask that carried the name of a Black American, aiming to highlight racial injustice in the United States to a wider audience.
The withdrawal of Osaka, who has never advanced past the third round at Roland Garros, comes as another blow to the tournament after world number one Ash Barty of Australia said she would not be defending her title due to COVID-19 concerns.
On the men’s side, Roger Federer will not compete as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
Osaka’s absence would improve Serena Williams’s chances of winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title if the American chooses to play.
The 38-year-old has pulled out of the Italian Open with an Achilles issue.
It had previously said the clay court major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Fed Cup to be renamed Billie Jean King Cup
Almost 60 years after Billie Jean King helped the United States win the inaugural Fed Cup, the team event is being renamed in honour of the greatest trailblazer in women’s tennis.
The competition will from 2021 be known as the Billie Jean King Cup, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said in a statement.
It was revamped this year to feature a 12-nation finals week to rival the men’s Davis Cup.
This year’s finals, scheduled for Budapest in April, were postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
King, a 12-times Grand Slam singles champion and the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), said she was “humbled” to have the competition named after her.
“Very proud, very humbled,” the 76-year-old told Reuters by telephone. “I keep thinking it’s a dream. And then I start thinking about what an opportunity this is to help the game grow globally.
“(The Federation Cup) was 63 years behind the Davis Cup but we’ve gone from 16 to 116 nations.
“We have equal prize money to the Davis Cup and this sends out an important and strong message of equality.”
The Billie Jean Cup, sponsored by BNP Paribas, is the first major global team competition to be named after a woman.
Next year’s Finals in Hungary will boast 12 million dollars in prize money, equivalent to the revamped Davis Cup.
ITF President David Haggerty paid tribute to King’s fight for gender equality in sports and society.
“From playing the first Fed Cup as a member of the victorious United States team in 1963, founding the WTA and becoming its first president, to being the first female athlete awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King has never stopped breaking new ground,” Haggerty said.
“Today she adds another `first’ to that list. The new name is a fitting tribute to everything she has achieved.”
King was part of the team that won the inaugural competition, then known as the Federation Cup, in London in 1963.
She won it seven times as a player and four as captain and was appointed its first Global Ambassador last year.
“There is nothing quite like the feeling of representing your country and being part of a team, which is why this competition is so special and important to me,” she said.
“Our job is to share this vision with future generations of young girls, because if you can see it, you can be it.”
France, Russia, Hungary, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the United States, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland will contest next year’s inaugural Billy Jean King Cup Finals.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Allies’ view of United States crashes in wake of poor pandemic response, survey
Countries around the world view the United States response to the coronavirus particularly poorly, contributing to a sharp decline to the country’s overall favourability, a study from the Pew Research Centre released on Tuesday.
The study reviewed attitudes towards the United States among people in more than a dozen key industrialized democracies, all allies of Washington.
In France and Germany, those who have a favourable view of the US has dropped to the record lows matched only back in 2003, at the height of tensions over the invasion of Iraq.
Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia never saw their negative views hit such high levels before.
Over the 13 countries surveyed, only 15 per cent of people, on average, had a positive opinion of how the U..S handled the coronavirus.
Often, people thought China, European nations and the World Health Organisation did far better than the United States
“The percentage of those who have confidence in the United States president to do the right thing regarding world affairs has dropped to levels not seen since the end of the George W Bush presidency,’’ the Pew study showed.
Only about 10 per cent of the Germans and French believe President Donald Trump would do the right thing on the global stage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ranks highest among world leaders, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump trails even Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping in terms of trust.
Confidence in Trump among Europeans is highest among those who support populist right-wing parties.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye
Organisers to decide COVID-19 “counter-measures’’ for Tokyo Games by end of year
Organisers are ploughing ahead with the postponed Tokyo Olympics, Joan Coates, head of the Coordination Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said on Tuesday.
The Tokyo Games, originally scheduled for 2020, have been delayed until 2021 because of the pandemic.
Coates who is an Australian told reporters in Sydney that organisers were “throwing whatever resources are necessary” at the Games.
“Our decision at the moment is to go ahead,” Coates said at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Sydney Olympics’ opening ceremony.
“What we wait for is to decide what counter-measures we need to go ahead with, to proceed depending on what stage COVID is at.
“The extent of the ceremonies, the extent of the crowd participation, any necessary quarantine when they arrive in Japan. All of those things.
“And, by the time we get to the end of the year, we’ll make an assessment on what counter-measures we’ll need to apply.”
The Japanese government and the IOC took the unprecedented decision in March to postpone the Games, which were originally scheduled to begin in July.
Tokyo officials have said they intend to put on the Games in 2021 even if the pandemic has not eased substantially.
Australia’s retired five-time Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe said he wanted to see the Games go ahead but was doubtful they could without a vaccine.
“First and foremost is people’s health,” Thorpe told reporters at the Sydney Games ceremony.
“So, let’s put that into perspective and if we haven’t got a treatment or a vaccine for COVID, the Olympics will possibly not go ahead.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)