The welcome surge in dry bulk market’s spot earnings at the end of 2016 is unlikely to last long into 2017, according to Maritime Strategies International (MSI), which predicts a depressed year for rates.While iron ore trade undershot its expectations, coal trade overshot them with geographical imbalances playing a key role. However, MSI believes the short term support factors will have unwound in a matter of weeks.Chartering of Capesize vessels for iron ore out of Brazil and Australia for January loading had slowed before year-end, dragging down spot rates. French nuclear power capacity is set to resume output in January, placing downwards pressure on Panamax coal demand, coinciding with a slowdown in grains trade from the US Gulf, MSI informs.“In our Base Case there is little to suggest any significant changes to the market through the remainder of 2017 and it is MSI’s view that freight rates will remain depressed. Overall, we forecast deadweight demand growth will broadly match supply growth at around 3-3.5% year on year,” Will Fray, Senior Analyst at MSI, said.“On this basis we see little reason for freight rates to move meaningfully, other than for short-lived or localised spikes,” he added.In the longer-term, MSI forecasts for 2018 and beyond are still positive but have come down since the last update, mainly as a result of a slightly more bearish view of Chinese steel production, iron ore imports and European coal imports.
Sports physician Dr Akshai Mansingh says that the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) decision to end the 2019-20 football season, including the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), may have come down to a question of ensuring a prompt start to the next campaign or being willing to push back the schedule to complete the 2019-20 season. Last Friday, JFF President Michael Ricketts declared the football season null and void at all levels. No champions will therefore be named for the various competitions, as well as no promotion or relegation. The reaction has been mixed with RSPL clubs Mount Pleasant and Harbour View voicing their disappointment, while the managements of Waterhouse, Dunbeholden and Arnett Gardens have supported the move. When asked if the federation made the right decision, Mansingh said that it was difficult to determine but believes that the JFF would have had to take major factors into consideration, including the remaining RSPL schedule, players’ readiness and the state of lower league competitions that would have had promotion and relegation. He believes that these factors would have left the federation with a choice of trying to start the following season on time or be willing to delay to complete the season. “First and foremost, in my view, would be the remaining schedule and how it would infringe upon the start of a new season because football usually starts in September. So what you don’t want is to run one season into the other,” Mansingh who is also dean of the Faculty of Sport, University of the West Indies, Mona told The Gleaner. “And I think the decision that had to be made is – do you sacrifice the ending of this season to try and save the start of next season? Or do you delay everything down the line?” Other countries have taken the stance to end their seasons, while other top European clubs are deciding on a pathway towards resumption. Jamaica joins Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Argentina as some of the countries that ended their seasons. While Scotland, Belgium and Argentina declared champions based on their current rankings, Jamaica, like the Netherlands, will have no champions and have suspended promotion and relegation. Mansingh said that the players’ well-being would also have been a factor in the decision-making, as it would be difficult for local top-flight players to be brought in from different communities, thus increasing the risk of infection. “Unlike developed countries where club footballers can be kept in isolation for a week, you are looking at a scenario in Jamaica where players come from the communities and they are still under some amount of social distancing,” he said. “The reality is that if you bring footballers in Jamaica together to play a competition, you are potentially increasing the risk of exposure of these players, even without spectators, because they are coming from different communities.” Germany’s domestic leagues (Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2) made their return this past weekend under strict health protocols, which include isolation of players and staff, testing before matches and games played in empty stadiums.
Also, only nine members of a team will be permitted in a dugout and no team/player handshakes or high fives will be allowed. Group/huddle prayers between teams will also not be permitted. In a Friday news release, Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins announced that all summer sports activities will be postponed during Phase I of the re-opening. The restrictions on team/player handshakes, high fives and huddles will remain in Phase II. Phase I officially began Friday. If all goes according to plan, Phase II will begin June 5. Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will make the announcement June 1. “Louisiana Little League will conform to the guidelines of physical distancing, cleaning/disinfecting, and PPE that is recommended by the CDC; established through the governor’s executive order and the Louisiana Office of the state Fire Marshal,” the plan’s introduction states. “As Bossier City facilities begin to return to more normal operations under Phase One, our Parks and Recreation Department will be working to make sure the ball fields are ready for anticipated play in early June,” Walker said in the release. Bossier Little League and Dixie baseball and softball teams will have to wait until June 5 to get back on the city’s playing fields. “While direct physical contact is minimal among older baseball players, younger children tend to pile on one another in pursuit of the ball. Since children can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus, the prudent decision is to postpone baseball until at least June 5, 2020.” According to their Facebook pages, both Bossier Little League and Bossier Dixie plan on resuming play. Among the procedures and guidelines for Phase I: A limit of two parents/attendees per player at a complex, with appropriate mask and PPE; strong discouragement of the use of shared equipment; coaches, umpires and league officials required to wear face masks; all team and gate paid online or by another method prior to arriving at the park. It is also consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which states, “Most organized activities and sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football that are held on park fields, open areas, and courts are not recommended during times in which individuals are encouraged or required to practice social distancing.” However, Haughton Athletics announced on its Facebook page that it’s cancelling its 2020 baseball/softball season. Friday’s announcement comes in the wake of the LHSAA’s decision to postpone summer workouts for all sports until June 8. No concessions will be allowed in Phase I but will be in Phase II. Also, collecting fees at the gate will be allowed in Phase II. For the complete list of procedures, go to louisianalittleleague.org. The Police Jury announced Wednesday that the park is closed to practice or team activities, but individuals are invited to use the south playing fields and the batting cage. On its Facebook page, Benton Athletics posted earlier this week: “BASEBALL IS COMING SOON!! We are working hard to determine the next steps at this time.” “Our goal was to give the kids a quality summer season,” the post states. “However, we were informed our complex would not be opening in Phase 1 of the reopening, making our time lines uncertain. We are a volunteer-run organization, and a significant number of our volunteer coaches stated they would not be participating in a summer season. When parents were polled, many of you stated your child would not play in a summer season. We want to comply with all state orders regarding social distancing, which will make playing burdensome and difficult. At this point, we have chosen to be cautious and keep the safety of our organization and players as our main concern.” The Louisiana Little League released its resumption plan for regular season and postseason play for Phases I, II and III on Monday. “Baseball requires using a shared ball, as well as shared helmets and bats. It also creates social distancing concerns for spectators and players alike. Offensive and defensive players are frequently required to share a base,” the release states. Haughton Athletics plays its games at the Lawson “Bo” Brandon Sports Complex in Princeton. It is operated in conjunction with the Bossier Parish Police Jury. 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