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SPORT

Norway gives green light for children’s free time activities

Children and young people in Norway have been given the green light to restart a range of sports and free time activities, so long as they can find a way to stick to strict social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Norway gives green light for children's free time activities
Culture Miniser Abid Raja announced the decision on Monday. Photo
Culture minister Abid Raja told the NTB newswire on Monday afternoon that sports teams, choirs, bands, and other group activities for children and young people could now restart, although he stressed they should only take place “so long as the infection rules are upheld”.  
 
Andreas Borud, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Children and Youth Council, said that the decision would be welcomed by young people across the country. 
 
“I think it's very positive,” he said. “Over time, I think we will see a careful increase in the selection of activities that they can offer their members.” 
 
But he warned that which sorts of sports or other pastimes could resume would be limited by what is possible under infection guidelines.
 
“It's going to be a very limited list of activities if you have to keep to groups of five people and keep a distance of two metres,” he warned.  
 
 
The Norwegian Guide and Scout Association has already analysed their normal activities to better understand which of them can be restarted over the next couple of weeks, with youth political movements undergoing a similar process.
 
“Activities that don't involve much physical contact are most likely to start first, together with activities that are outdoors,” Borud said. “A lot of the political youth organisations will soon be able to hold meetings at their local branches.” 
 
Football, and other team sports will also restart training, although normal matches remain out of the question. 
 
“The sports movement was very early in creating their own guidelines for how you could have training, and they have made guidelines for this together with the healthcare authorities, so a lot of sports clubs are also arranging activities now.” 
 
The marching bands which play such a big role in the country's National Day celebrations on May 17 will also soon restart rehearsals. 
 
“Marching bands and choirs will be able to restart some of their activities not far from now — but it won't be a full marching band standing in a usually cramped space,” Borud stressed. 
 

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CULTURE

French MP abandons bid to ban bullfighting

A bid to ban bullfighting in France has been abandoned, to the relief of lovers of the traditional blood sport and dismay for animal rights' activists.

French MP abandons bid to ban bullfighting

The 577-seat National Assembly had looked set to vote on draft legislation that would have made the practice illegal.

But the MP behind the bill withdrew it after lawmakers filed more than 500 amendments, many of them designed to take up parliamentary time and obstruct the vote.

“I’m so sorry,” Aymeric Caron, a La France insoumise (LFI) MP and animal rights’ campaigner, told the national assembly as he announced the decision in raucous and bad-tempered scenes.

Though public opinion is firmly in favour of outlawing the practice, the bill had already been expected to be rejected by a majority of lawmakers who
are wary about stirring up the bullfighting heartlands in the south of the country.

“We need to go towards a conciliation, an exchange,” President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, adding that he did not expect the draft law to pass. “From where I am sitting, this is not a current priority.”

His government has urged members of the ruling centrist coalition not to support the text from the opposition LFI, even though many members are known to personally favour it.

During a first debate of the parliament’s law commission last week, a majority voted against the proposal by Caron, who denounced the “barbarism” of a tradition that was imported from Spain in the 1850s.

“Caron has antagonised people instead of trying to smooth it over,” a lawmaker from Macron’s party told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The bill proposed modifying an existing law penalising animal cruelty to remove exemptions for bullfights that can be shown to be “uninterrupted local
traditions”.

These are granted in towns such as Bayonne and Mont-de-Marsan in south west France and along the Mediterranean coast including Arles, Beziers and Nîmes.

Around 1,000 bulls are killed each year in France, according to the Observatoire National des Cultures Taurines.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Could bullfighting finally be banned in France?

Many so-called “bull towns” depend on the shows for tourism and see the culture of bull-breeding and the spectacle of the fight as part of their way of life – idolised by artists from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso.

They organised demonstrations last Saturday, while animal rights protesters gathered in Paris – highlighting the north-south and rural-versus-Paris divide at the heart of the debate.

“Caron, in a very moralising tone, wants to explain to us, from Paris, what is good or bad in the south,” the mayor of Mont-de-Marsan, Charles Dayot, told AFP recently.

Other defenders of “la Corrida” in France view the focus on the sport as hypocritical when factory farms and industrial slaughter houses are overlooked.

“These animals die too and we don’t talk enough about it,” said Dalia Navarro, who formed the pro-bullfighting group Les Andalouses in southern Arles.

Modern society “has more and more difficulty in accepting seeing death. But la Corrida tackles death, which is often a taboo subject,” she told AFP.

Previous judicial attempts to outlaw bullfighting have repeatedly failed, with courts routinely rejecting lawsuits lodged by animal rights activists, most recently in July 2021 in Nîmes.

The debate in France about the ethics of killing animals for entertainment is echoed in other countries with bullfighting histories, including Spain and Portugal as well as Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.

In June, a judge in Mexico City ordered an indefinite suspension of bullfighting in the capital’s historic bullring, the largest in the world.

The first bullfight took place in France in 1853 in Bayonne to honour Eugenie de Montijo, the Spanish wife of Napoleon III.

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