Flush from bowling in four successive tests for the first time in his career during the Ashes series, the 33-year-old had been bullish about his chances of playing on despite the injury when he returned from England on Thursday.

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A Cricket Australia statement released later in the day, however, showed that his optimism had been misplaced, although he should be back in action when the return series against England starts in late November.

“Ryan Harris injured his right hamstring during the latter part of the second innings of the fifth Ashes test,” it read.

“He had to leave the field and did not return to the game as he was unable to bowl. He was assessed after arriving back in Australia today and is expected to be unavailable to play for the next 6-8 weeks.”

The pick of Australia’s bowlers in the 3-0 defeat in the Ashes series, Harris is no stranger to injury and has been restricted to just 16 tests since he made his debut in 2010.

A chronic knee problem, left ankle fracture, shoulder problem, back strain, hip pain and a tender Achilles have all contributed to limiting his international career.

Harris had hoped to play with Brisbane Heat in the Champions League Twenty20 competition later this month but the diagnosis means he will not now make the trip to India.

That might be a relief for some Australian cricket fans with the second Ashes series looming.

With 24 wickets at an average of 19.58 in England, Harris amply illustrated his importance to a pace attack that is expected to play a key role in the attempt to win back the famous urn on home soil.

The Achilles injury cut short his participation in the Indian Premier League earlier this year which, he said, had allowed him to get fully fit for the Ashes trip.

After his superb displays in England, Harris has now taken 71 wickets in his 16 tests but his personal satisfaction was not about to make up for his disappointment at the series defeat.

“To get through four tests and perform was good but at the end of the day, the results were bad,” he said.

“The good thing is they come back here in November and we can try and get the urn back then.”

Harris warned against asking groundsmen at the five Ashes test venues in Australia to prepare extra quick wickets to suit the Australian pacemen, saying it might turn out to be a double-edged sword.

“The problem there is that their bowling attack is pretty good,” he added.

“If we make our wickets like we normally do there will be enough grass on them and enough in them.

“Bowling at our best the batters are going to find it hard to score.”

(Editing by John O’Brien/Patrick Johnston)

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The planned 60,000-seater stadium is to be the centrepiece of Brussels’ bid to host matches during the 2020 European soccer championships, replacing the current 45,000 capacity King Baudouin stadium.

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The venues are little more than a kilometre (1 mile) apart, but while the present stadium is in officially bilingual but largely French-speaking Brussels, its planned successor is in the exclusively Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

Flemish politicians are bristling at the thought of Brussels extending its francophone culture beyond its borders, leading Flemish Sports Minister Philippe Muyters to say language rules must be respected.

“One of the underlying elements should be an agreement on the use of Dutch there,” Muyters, a member of the Flemish separatist N-VA party, told the television programme Terzake on Wednesday, hours after the agreement was reached.

Rudi Vervoort, premier of the Brussels region, responded in an interview on La Premiere radio station on Thursday, saying ‘Dutch only’ could not be the rule at a national stadium.

“Dutch will be secondary, as French will be secondary. We will mainly talk English,” he said. “The stadium will not be brought down by the use of languages.”

Language is a frequent flashpoint in Belgium, where the wealthier Flemish majority fiercely protects its Dutch language and culture and is constantly on the look-out for encroachments by French speakers, particularly in areas surrounding Brussels.

The country went for 19 months without a new government after 2010 elections due to differences between French-speaking and Flemish parties.

The issue has flared again as politicians seek vie for votes at next year’s regional, European and federal elections.

Earlier this month, the council of the Flemish district of Menen, which borders France, decided that it would no longer tolerate the use of French in its town hall, saying anyone who did not speak Dutch must rely on hand gestures instead.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Paul Taylor)

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The All Whites, who made the 2010 finals after a 1-0 aggregate victory over fifth-placed Asian side Bahrain, have sealed a November playoff against the fourth placed team in the North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) conference after wrapping up the Oceania qualifying spot in March.

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As part of their preparations, Herbert’s side will take part in a four-nation tournament in Saudi Arabia next month, where they will play the hosts and then either UAE or Trinidad and Tobago before friendlies in October complete their buildup.

New Zealand have not played since they sealed qualification with their 2-0 victory over the Solomon Islands in Honiara, having failed to make the Confederations Cup after being upset in last year’s Oceania Nations Cup.

Herbert said lack of match practice made the games in Riyadh on September 5 and September 9 more important, especially because of the limited time he gets to work with a squad drawn from leagues in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the U.S. and China.

“It’s still tough while they’re dispersed around various countries,” Herbert told Reuters.

“It’s more to do with the time we get to spend with them.

“We might only get 48 hours with them and if a plane is late we might only get one training session.

“We just don’t get that fundamental extra time where we can work with the players productively. They arrive and bang the game is around the corner.

“If we need to make adjustments before November we really only have four chances to nail it down and for the team to gel.

“That’s the hardest thing but sometimes that’s the resilience of the Kiwi guy, just being adaptable.”

TRAINING CAMP

After the Saudi Arabia tournament, Herbert is hoping to organise friendlies in October against CONCACAF opponents and replicate the environment he expects to face in the away leg of the playoff as closely as possible.

Herbert expects Honduras or Panama to be the playoff opponents and, given the passion of Latin American fans and their notoriety for gathering outside rivals’ hotel to keep them awake, was investigating staying in Miami and flying into the venue the day before the match.

“No doubt we will probably get the full extent of that,” he said with a laugh when asked about attempts at disruption.

“We understand that, it’s a passionate part of the world. We just want to give ourselves the best chance.”

The first match of the playoff will be hosted by the CONCACAF nation on November 13 before both teams travel to New Zealand for the return fixture in Wellington on November 20.

Herbert said he had seen suggestions world governing body FIFA was considering chartering a plane to bring both teams to New Zealand but nothing had been confirmed and he hoped to have the upper hand in the tie before the Wellington match.

“The away fixture will strongly determine the outcome of the World Cup,” he said. “The lead in work, the preparation has got to be bullet proof.

“The stronger, more resilient team – whether it’s travel, tiredness, whatever – that backs up a couple of days later will win the tie.

“I would back us to do that, so that’s why the away fixture is so important.”

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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With less than three years to go before the first Olympic Games in South America, most of the facilities in Rio have yet to be completed because of construction delays and soaring costs.

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Earlier this year, millions of Brazilians took to the streets to protest against the billions of dollars being invested into staging the 2014 football World Cup then the Olympics instead of health, education, public transportation, and security.

Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Rio 2016 Olympics Committee, addressed the International Olympic Committee on Sunday to allay fears that things were off track.

He conceded things had fallen behind but said he was confident everything would be ready for 2016 and on budget.

“We have made significant progress,” Nuzman said. “I can assure you Rio will be ready.

“There is a lot of work ahead but we fully understand the complexity of our task.”

Nuzman’s admission came just a week after an IOC co-ordination commission visited Rio before heading to Argentina for the IOC Congress.

The commission was led by Nawal El Moutawakel, who won a gold medal for Morocco in the women’s 400 metres hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

El Moutawakel told the IOC Congress on Sunday that Rio had made “reassuring” progress in the last year but there was still a lot of work to do.

“Over recent months, the social and political environment and operations has significantly changed,” she said.

“There is a need, more than ever before, that all stakeholders need to work together.

“Key decisions need to be made collectively and communicated with one voice.”

‘REMAIN CONFIDENT’

She urged the Rio organising team to focus on getting the venues and infrastructure right as well as taking the “matrix of responsibility” and would return to Brazil next year to see how things were progressing.

“We remain confident Rio and Brazil have the resources and the energy and ambition to deliver a memorable Olympic Games in 2016.”

Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper, who also serves as chairman of the IOC press commission, told Nuzman that Rio needed to get their media operations in order, including better communication with the Brazilian public to reassure them about the Games and end the protests.

“I’m still concerned with the delay related to your press operations. It took you three and a half years to appoint a media chief,” Gosper said.

“You simply have to keep your public aware about what’s happening.

“If the community doesn’t get it, you’ll have a repeat of what you’ve had (protests).”

Nuzman, a lawyer who represented Brazil in volleyball at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, said the Rio organisers were aware of the growing discontent and he vowed they would do a better job getting their messages across.

“We have a free country, we have a democracy in every sense and everybody can express their opinion,” he said.

“It’s important to take in consideration any protest concerning the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

“The population loves sport… but we need to be much more transparent and open to communicate to everybody what’s happening.”

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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The South Korean mountain resort, which was awarded the Games in 2011, will become the first Asian city outside Japan to host the winter Games.

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“Asia is a huge continent with a huge population. It has a great potential in many areas,” Pyeongchang Games president Kim Jin-sun told Reuters in an interview.

“What the Olympics pursue is the worldwide expansion of sports so in this sense Tokyo 2020 and Pyeongchang 2018, only two years apart in Asia, provides us a great opportunity to awaken Asia’s great potential.”

He said this would bring with it “further development of related industries.”

After decades where sport’s biggest events were mostly split between Europe and North America, international sports bodies are increasingly turning to Asia.

With more than half of the world’s population and a sharply burgeoning middle class, the continent boasts the fastest growing regional economy in the world.

In addition to staging the 2020 Olympics, Japan has also been picked to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup after unsuccessfully bidding for the 2011 tournament.

South Korea in turn will hold the world swimming championships for the first time in 2019 and the Presidents Cup golf tournament in 2015.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, is the site for the next world athletics championships in 2015 while Nanjing, the capital of China’s Jiangsu province, will stage next year’s Youth Olympics.

ASIAN TREND

Singapore, one of a handful of Asian countries on the Formula One motor racing calendar, has been selected as the host for the end-of-season Women’s Tennis Association championships for the next five years.

Kim, however, denied, the traditional power base of sport was shifting to the east for good, saying it was merely becoming a more balanced distribution with more East Asian bids for major events being submitted.

“The trend has been that many important mega events are planned and hosted in East Asia but I do not think the power base is shifting,” said Kim, who saw Pyeongchang fail twice before being awarded the Games.

“We believe East Asia offers… the opportunity to host mega events. The IOC is eager to give even opportunities to each region in the world,” Kim said, speaking through a translator.

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics are the first to be staged in South America.

With the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics under pressure due to the fallout over a Russian anti-gay law and the Rio preparations marred by delays and potential protests that also hit this summer’s soccer Confederation Cup, Kim said Pyeongchang was prepared.

“It is not only the organising committee but the city, the city government and regional government and the whole country that should be prepared to host the Games,” he said.

“The whole nation should overcome outside problems. In this sense our national government has established a support committee.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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