Sakamoto dominates women’s short program at NHK Trophy

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Kaori Sakamoto added another jump to her repertoire and came away with the lead after Friday’s short program at the NHK Trophy, the final event of the figure skating Grand Prix series.

The 2018 Four Continents champion from Japan opened her routine with a double axel and added a triple lutz and a triple flip-triple toeloop combination for 75.60 points.

Wakaba Higuchi, the 2018 world silver medalist, fell on her opening triple axel but landed all her remaining jumps to finish second with 69.71 points. Mako Yamashita was third with 67.56 points.

“It was the first time that I had the (triple) lutz and I was able to skate clean,” Sakamoto said. “It is very motivating to skate in front of an audience. In the free program, I hope to have more energy and to keep my position.”

The NHK Trophy normally draws skaters from around the world but was limited to mostly Japanese skaters because of travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite concerns about the virus, there was a near-capacity crowd for the opening day program. Japan has managed to keep the virus under control so far but is experiencing a surge in cases.

Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 world champion Daisuke Takahashi made his debut in ice dancing, partnering with Kana Muramoto to finish second in the rhythm dance.

Japanese champions Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto were first with 70.76 points, followed by Takahashi and Muramoto with 64.15.

“Not everything was the way we hoped and it was not 100%,” Takahashi said. “But the rhythm dance was good. I did not realize how difficult ice dance is so hats off to all the ice dancers.”

Rikako Fukuse and Eichu Cho were third with 63.46 points.

Four Continents bronze medalist Yuma Kagiyama led after the men’s short program with 87.26 points, ahead of Kazuki Tomono with 83.27. Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda was third with 79.22 points.

Kagiyama, the world junior silver medalist, started with a quad salchow-triple toeloop combination followed by a quad toeloop but faltered on an axel later in his routine.

“The first half of my short program was almost perfect,” Kagiyama said. “But there were some mistakes in the second half so I was a little disappointed with that but I’m looking forward to the free skate.”

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who has asthma, is not taking part in the men’s program.

The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final that was to be held as an Olympic test event on Dec. 10-13 in Beijing has been postponed. The Grand Prix events in Canada and France were canceled because of the pandemic.


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Africa: Jewelry Companies’ Sourcing Improves, but Falls Short

Covid-19 Pandemic Devastates Mining Communities, Increases Rights Risks

London – Major jewelry companies are improving their sourcing of gold and diamonds, but most cannot assure consumers that their jewelry is untainted by human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today in advance of the holiday shopping season.

The 80-page report, “Sparkling Jewels, Opaque Supply Chains: Jewelry Companies, Changing Sourcing Practices, and Covid-19,” scrutinizes and gives rankings to 15 jewelry and watch brands in their efforts to prevent and address human rights abuses and environmental harm in their gold and diamond supply chains. Human Rights Watch reviewed the companies’ actions since Human Rights Watch first reported on these issues in 2018. While a majority of the jewelry companies examined have taken some steps to improve their practices, most still fall short of meeting international standards.

“Many jewelry companies have made progress in sourcing their gold and diamonds responsibly, but consumers still don’t have adequate assurances that their jewelry comes free of human rights abuses,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate child rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The Covid-19 pandemic demands even more vigilance from jewelry companies to identify and respond to human rights abuses.”

Human Rights Watch also assessed the impact of Covid-19 on mining and jewelry sectors. Mining workers, their families, and communities have been stripped of income where mining has stalled due to lockdowns . Where industrial mining has continued, mine workers work close together in closed spaces and sometimes live together in hostels, putting them at greater risk. In some small-scale mining areas, child labor has risen, and illegal mining and trading have increased.

Human Rights Watch conducted extensive research in numerous countries where abusive practices taint the supply chain. In Venezuela, armed groups known as “syndicates” control illegal gold mines and have committed horrific abuses against residents and miners, including punitive amputations and torture.

In Zimbabwe, the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company has employed private security officers who have mistreated residents accused of mining diamonds, including setting dogs on them.

Hazardous child labor occurs in small-scale gold mining areas in Ghana, Mali, the Philippines, and Tanzania, with children exposed to mercury used in the process. Children have died in mining accidents.

Jewelry and watch companies have a responsibility to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence to ensure that they do not cause or contribute to rights abuses in their supply chains, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. “Due diligence” refers to a company’s process to identify, prevent, address, and remediate human rights and environmental impacts in their supply chains.

The 15 companies assessed collectively generate more than US$40 billion in annual revenue, about 15 percent of global jewelry sales. Nine companies responded in writing to letters requesting information regarding their sourcing policies and practices: Boodles, Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Chow Tai Fook, Pandora, Signet, Tanishq, and Tiffany & Co. Six companies did not reply to several requests: Christ, Harry Winston, Kalyan, Mikimoto, Rolex, and TBZ. Human Rights

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