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FIE steps in with a plan to support fencers amid the COVID-19 crisis

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A new initiative is confirming a trend to help sportsmen overcome the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

                 The International Fencing Federation (FIE), headed by Alisher Usmanov, has announced a global support plan aimed at national federations amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our world has been facing the coronavirus pandemic, which entails huge consequences for physical and mental health, as well as the economy," Usmanov said in a statement released last Friday by the FIE. "Fencers and their federations have had to abruptly halt their activities. In the spirit of solidarity and unity, and to help our fencing family overcome this difficult period, we came up with an unprecedented plan of support, allocating 1 million Swiss francs for this purpose."

Alisher Usmanov, photo by TASS

Alisher Usmanov, photo by TASS

According to the plan adopted by its executive committee, the FIE will provide financial aid for its organisations, athletes, and referees, and will freeze membership and organisational fees. It also secures grants for fencers to take part in upcoming championships.

This announcement comes at a crucial moment when the sporting world is stalled by the ongoing suspension of most activities and the rescheduling of events.

Back in May, World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) established a USD $500,000 welfare fund to support professional athletes who have lost a substantial part of their income due to the suspension of international competitions.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe noted that the “resources must be focused on athletes who are likely to be competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and are now struggling to pay for basic necessities due to a loss of income during the pandemic’’.

The FIE, which comprises a total of 157 federations, is currently planning to resume its competitions by next November. The fencers’ senior Olympic qualification rankings remain frozen as of March 2020, it said.

The FIE was one of the first international federations to release its global support plan, which may now be followed by others.

Given the uncertainty over the end of the coronavirus pandemic, sports organizations need to think about how to provide additional moral and financial support to their athletes. More initiatives should be expected from donors and federations in the near future.

Meanwhile, according to Usmanov, the FIE “is working tirelessly to protect our athletes and entire organisation to ensure future competitions take place safely. As fencers, we face the future together, our heads up and our masks on”.

Usmanov, a former professional fencer, has headed the FIE since 2008 and has put a remarkable CHF80 million (USD $82 million) into the FIE’s balance sheet over three previous Olympic cycles, according to the Inside the Games news website.

Twice re-elected to this post, the Russian spared no effort to help promote fencing and to assist the growing national federations in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

He also convinced the IOC, which is headed by the former fencing champion Thomas Bach, to assign the full medal count to fencing during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, Usmanov and his businesses have been helping to fight its impact with large donations in various countries, notably in Russia and in Uzbekistan.

Sports and sports industries may have been severely hit by COVID-19, but sport is also believed to be the best medicine for diseases. Aristotle used to say that “nothing is as draining and destroying to the human body, as prolonged physical inactivity”.

Hopefully, the FIE's initiative to support fencers in this time of continued turbulence will move us closer to ending the current pause in the world’s sporting life.

 

 

 

Economy

Sustainable transport: EU funds clean buses, electric charging infrastructure and more in France, Germany, Italy and Spain

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Following the EU's investment of €2.2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the green recovery, as announced in July, the EU is contributing additional €54 million to five projects that aim at delivering safer and greener transport services. Among the selection are projects deploying cleaner busses with charging infrastructure in Paris and Barcelona. The projects also involve constructing 255 new electric charging stations on Italian roads, and installing ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System on 238 rail vehicles in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The projects will be supported through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's financial mechanism supporting transport infrastructure, and further contribute to decarbonizing transport as set out in the European Green Deal. These projects were selected through the CEF Blending Facility, which allows the leveraging of additional private financing for the projects, in addition to the EU's support. In total, CEF has now supported 932 projects, with €23.1bn in total. You can find more details on today's five new selected projects here.

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Defence

Security Union: EU law on combatting terrorism led to stronger criminal justice rules against terrorism and more rights for victims

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On 30 October, the Commission adopted a report assessing the measures that member states have taken to comply with the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive 2017/541). This Directive is the main criminal justice instrument at EU level to counter terrorism. It sets minimum standards for defining terrorist and terrorism-related offences and for sanctions, while also giving victims of terrorism rights to protection, support and assistance.

The report concludes that the transposition of the Directive into national law helped strengthen member states' criminal justice approach to terrorism and the rights afforded to victims of terrorism. While the measures taken by member states to comply with the Directive are overall satisfactory, there are however gaps that are a cause for concern.

For example, not all member states criminalize in their national law all the offences listed in the Directive as terrorist offences. In addition, there are deficiencies in the measures that member states have taken to criminalize travel for terrorism purposes and the financing of terrorism, as well as to support victims.

The Commission will continue to support member states in working towards full and correct transposition of the Directive. Where necessary, the Commission will make use of its powers under the Treaties through infringement procedures. The report will now be presented to the European Parliament and the Council.

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EU

European Union joins world leaders in committing to reverse nature loss by 2030 at UN Biodiversity Summit

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On 30 September, President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) represented the EU at the UN Biodiversity Summit in New York which brings together world leaders to step up global actions for nature and confirm their determination in agreeing a new ambitious global biodiversity framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, planned for 2021.

Prior to the summit, President von der Leyen, together with more than 70 heads of state and government endorsed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, committing to ten decisive actions to address the nature emergency. The President pledged to put nature and the climate at the heart of the EU's recovery plan, committing to tackle the interdependent climate and biodiversity crisis, deforestation, ecosystem degradation and pollution, and move to sustainable production and consumption.

President von der Leyen said: “Nature helps us in the fight against climate change. But it is also our ally in securing prosperity, combating poverty, hunger and inequalities, and is essential to prevent future zoonotic pandemics. We need to act now and bring nature back into our lives. This is the moment for world leaders to join hands and the EU is ready to lead the way. The European Green Deal is our vision and roadmap. We call on all to join this collective effort to create a common movement of change, to make the recovery green and to protect and restore our planet - the only home we have.”

The EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 outlines an ambitious agenda for the EU internally, but also globally. It reaffirms the EU's determination to lead by example in tackling the global biodiversity crisis and in developing an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework at the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference.

This includes overarching long-term goals for biodiversity so that by 2050 the world's ecosystems are restored, resilient, and adequately protected; ambitious global 2030 targets in line with the EU's proposed commitments; and improved means of implementation in areas such as finance, capacity, research, know-how and technology.

Ahead of the COP 15, the European Commission also launched the global coalition United for #Biodiversity, calling on all national parks, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos, research centres, science and natural history museums, to join forces and raise their voice about the nature crisis.

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