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Phuket Sports: Expecting the unexpected – NFL

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Phuket Sports: Expecting the unexpected – NFL | Thaiger

PHUKET: After a regular season filled with the unforeseen, I decided to expect the unexpected while watching the Division Playoffs – and that’s exactly what I got. Predicting exactly how it would play out was not part of the equation, foreseeing that I would continue to bare witness to the amazement of the NFL’s 2012 season was a guarantee.

Baltimore beating the #1 seed Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas’s 9 point favorites, 38-35 on a 47-yard field goal in double over time (yeah, go ahead and try to tell me your uncle in Oxford, Maryland, predicted a Ravens’ win), was astonishing. Denver’s All-Pro starting quarterback Peyton Manning (who will also most likely pick up NFL MVP and Comeback Player of the Year awards) was, well you guessed it, mediocre at best.

This was foreseen. Manning has never been “great” in playoff games, he’s tied with Brett Favre on 11 losses (9-11). He fumbled, threw two interceptions (one a 39-yard pick by the Ravens’ Corey Graham, the other in overtime setting up Baltimore’s rookie kicker, Justin Tucker, to split the uprights from 47 yards in double overtime for the win) and simply had no answer against the oldest starting defense in the NFL.

Expected? Not really.

Not after what Manning did during the regular season and not with Joe Flacco and a Ravens’ offense who only five weeks ago fired their offensive coordinator. You want unpredictable? How about this: Denver stayed alive in this game and forced overtime when 165cm Trinden Holliday returned a kickoff and a punt each for a touchdown in the same game.

Yup, never been done before, a new NFL record. How about Joe Flacco? Surely you pegged him for 331 yards and three touchdowns without an interception? No?

Of course, you must have had Tory Smith beating All World Cornerback Champ Bailey, twice, for touchdowns, right? It would have been three if not for Flacco’s errant pass. The Ravens deserved this win, whether you predicted it or not. And I know you didn’t.

How about Atlanta allowing Rookie of the Year candidate Russell Wilson to lead his Seattle Seahawks to fight back from a 20-0 half-time deficit and hold on to win, right? Wrong.

Atlanta did not fall apart in the closing moments and captured their first playoff win since 2004, with Matty “Ice” Ryan completing passes to the ageless Tony Gonzalez to set up a Matt Bryant field goal with 0:08 seconds left. Yes, shockingly, the Falcons held on to win this battle of the birds 30-28. But you predicted that, right?

Let’s move on to San Francisco and discuss Alex Smith. You remember him? The same starting quarterback whose head coach, Jim Harbaugh, told him: “No son, you won’t lose your job for suffering a concussion.” Yes, you guessed it, he remained on the bench and the starter from week 9, rookie Colin Kaepernick, was under center. Here’s the part you did not predict correctly:

Kaepernick would go on to run wild like Roger Craig, picking up 181 yards rushing (two touchdowns, including one for 56 yards untouched) and pass the ball as well as, yup… heard it here first, Steve Young.

The 49ers decimated the healthy again Green Bay Packers 45-31, perfect spiral after perfect spiral beating the Packer defense. Michael Crabtree hauled in nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick finished the day with 444 yards of total offense, four touchdowns and a tattoo that says “I’m the Man”. The 49ers defense was stout. Aaron Rogers did double check after double check to find an open receiver and oh, that old running back that lost a step, Frank Gore, punished the Packer defenders and picked up 5.2 yards per carry, 119 total yards and a touchdown. I won a zillion dollars on a four-baht bet in Vegas picking Kaepernick to perform as well as he did. You didn’t?

How about them Patriots? My friend thought I was crazy, but I had Rob Gronkowski to re-break his arm on the 7th play of the game. In fact, he called me nuts when I predicted Danny Woodhead would go down after the first play of the game. He laughed uncontrollably when I told him Shane Vareen, the third-string running back on the depth chart would step in for both players and score three touchdowns. The South Boston native told me to “jump in my cah, go to the liquoh stohe and buy anotheh beeh”.

Arguably, the worst defense remaining in the playoffs held All Pro Arian Foster and the NFL’s # 8 rushing attack to a measly 91 yards. The Swiss cheese New England secondary held the Houston passing attack to two garbage time touchdown receptions. This game was over by the end of the 3rd quarter. JJ Watt, candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year had half a sack. He hit Tom Brady once. He deflected one pass. Now New England can stay right in Foxboro after this 41-28 victory, and wait for Sunday’s rematch of last years AFC Championship with Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Yeah, you definitely predicted that.

So, lets look ahead. We’ve got the 49ers visiting Atlanta. Baltimore heading to New England. I’ll go on the record as saying this: Bill Bellichick will line up next to Vince Wilfork in the 4-3 and sack Tyrod Taylor twice. Ray Lewis will return a punt for a touchdown and shoot himself in the foot while wrestling away a musket from the Minute Men Militia. In the NFC, I like Atlanta honoring Joe Montana at halftime and the Falcons actually going to the Super Bowl. Yes, the unexpected is all we as fans can expect from this year’s NFL season. This fan would not want it any other way.

Any of this expected? Russell Wilson, Coach of the Year Candidate Pete Carroll (my vote), the Seattle Seahawks defense, a team that beat the best all year (Packers, 49ers, Patriots, Bears) however, somehow lost a game they were favored to win, in Atlanta.

NFL and AFC Play-offs and Super Bowl schedule
NFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20 – 3 pm ET, FOX (Phuket: Monday 3am)
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA.

AFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20 – 6:30pm ET, CBS (Phuket: Monday 6:30am)
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA.


Super Bowl XLVII
Sunday, February 3, 2013 – 6:30pm ET, CBS (Phuket: Monday, February 3, 6:30am)
AFC AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA.

— Mark Reynolds

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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