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Juventus-bound Ramsey bids emotional farewell to Arsenal

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Aaron Ramsey made a tearful farewell to Arsenal after 11 years at the club on Sunday and said he was looking forward to the next phase of his career at Juventus.

The Welshman, whose season ended prematurely after he sustained a hamstring injury last month, is set to join the Italian champions in the close season after signing a four-year deal in February.

Ramsey, who is the club’s highest scoring central midfielder with 64 goals, was given a guard of honour by his team mates and presented with a memento after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium.

“Obviously it’s very emotional, it’s been a hell of a journey,” the 28-year-old told Sky Sports. “Eleven years of my life, so much has happened in that, when I look back. You can tell by my voice how much it means to me.

“I’m really excited for the new challenge and new chapter in my life (at Juventus) but today it’s all about this.

“This is where I grew up. I just want to take this in today and let it settle in for a few more days before I can really look forward and concentrate on that.

“I’m going to club that’s playing in the Champions League, and playing with (Cristiano) Ronaldo. And that’s going to really sink in now, so I can get my head around that in the next few weeks and really look forward to that challenge.”

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is retiring at the end of the season and was also honoured by Arsenal, said Ramsey’s departure was a big loss for the London club.

“I think when he came from Cardiff nobody really knew how great a player the club brought in and I think he gave everything he could all those 11 years,” Cech said.

Arsenal also confirmed the departure of striker Danny Welbeck. The Englishman, signed from Manchester United in 2014, has not played since he had an ankle surgery in November and his contract expires at the end of the season.

“I spoke with the club about this situation,” manager Unai Emery said. “The decision is he is going to leave.

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Shardul Thakur becomes first India cricketer to resume outdoor training

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Pacer Shardul Thakur on Saturday became the first India cricketer to resume outdoor training after a two-month coronavirus-forced break.

Thakur, who has featured in one Test, 11 ODIs and 15 T20s, hit a local ground at Boisar in Maharashtra’s Palghar district along with some domestic players.

The Maharashtra government has allowed the opening of stadiums for individual training in green and orange zones without spectators. This was after the home ministry offered relaxation in restrictions for the fourth phase of the lockdown till May 31.

“Yes, we practised today. It was good and definitely pleasing to practice after two months,” Thakur told PTI.

An official said that that the Palghar Dahanu Taluka Sports Association started the net sessions at Boisar, which is around 110 kms away from Mumbai.

Strict safety protocols were followed, with each bowler getting his own set of disinfected balls.

“All the safety measures were followed. The bowlers got their own balls which were disinfected and temperatures of the players who came for practise were also checked,” the official said.

Mumbai batsman Hardik Tamore, who made his Ranji debut for the domestic giants last season, was also seen training at the same ground.

“Once the guidelines from the Palghar District collector (state government) was issued concerning sports, it was always the aim to begin training process,” Mumbai Cricket Association, Council member Ajinkya Naik said.

“Due to our fantastic facility in Palghar district, we were able to facilitate much-needed training program to our esteemed players while adhering to social distancing norms and hygiene,” he added.

All sporting action in the country has been halted since March 25, when the first nationwide lockdown, to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, was announced by the central government.

Top cricketers like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who have resorted to home workouts to keep themselves fit during the lockdown, are still waiting to resume individual training.

Only India pacer Mohammed Shami has been able to train outside, in his own farm land.

On Thursday, England’s Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes became the first set of cricketers to return to individual training at their local county grounds.

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India loses hosting rights for 2021 boxing World Championships

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New Delhi on Tuesday lost hosting rights for the 2021 men’s boxing World Championships after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) failed to pay the host fee. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) said that additionally, the BFI will now have to pay a cancellation fee of $500.

“After New Delhi didn’t fulfill its obligations to pay host fee as mentioned in the Host City Agreement terms, AIBA has terminated the contract. Therefore, India would have to pay a cancellation penalty of 500.000 USD,” said the AIBA in its statement.

The tournament has now been awarded to Belgrade, Serbia and AIBA Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane said that it will hold the World Championships after the postponed Tokyo Olympics next year.

“Because of rescheduling of the Olympic 2020, AIBA Executive Committee will discuss with the host country possible dates to adjust. We believe that we will keep the planned timeframe and conduct World Championships in 2021 after the Games if the pandemic situation is under control. As soon as it is fixed, this will help our boxers to plan preparation for next year properly,” said Moustahsane.

India was awarded the hosting rights in July 2017. However, it has since run into troubled waters with the AIBA with the latter first saying that it will “re-open the bidding process for the 2021 men’s World boxing championships due to take place in India” in November 2018 after Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku was excluded from the 2018 women’s World boxing championships that was held in the country due to visa issues.

In February 2020, it was reported that the AIBA had sent a legal notice to the BFI for not paying boxers who participated in the 2019 Indian Open and a reminder for the BFI to pay its hosting fees for the 2021 World Championships.

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COVID-19: IPL under threat as India suspends all visas till April15

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The Indian government has suspended all visas till April 15 due to a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the last two weeks. According to the latest data available, sixty-seven people in the country have tested positive for the virus, which has spread over 100 countries, killed over 4,5000, and a major chunk of them are tourists from Italy.

The second meeting of the Group of Ministers on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, in the wake of the growing coronavirus.

The visa advisory from the Indian government has made it almost impossible for foreign players to join their respective teams in time as the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off on March 29. The foreign players have to remain out of India until April 15 and they can join in time only if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) gets special permission.

It is to note that the foreign players are booked on business visas and in such a scenario the fresh advisory sent out by the government on Wednesday says that they won’t be allowed entry till April 15.

However, the BCCI is yet to announce its call on the issue and the Indian Premier League governing council, meanwhile, will meet on March 14 to come to terms.

Notably, the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday was declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose chief expressed his “deep concern” over the “alarming levels of inaction” in combating the virus spread.

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