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A woman wearing a mask, walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters)
A woman wearing a mask, walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters)

Mint Lite | Olympics, Delhi Metro reopens, credit for MSMEs & other news

A daily wrap of news and views, opinions and talking points to start your day

Tokyo’s postponed Olympics will go ahead from 23 July regardless of the pandemic, the International Olympic Committee has said, even though just one in four Japanese wants them to go ahead. Japan, which has slipped into recession, has already ploughed billions of dollars into the Olympics, and the delay is adding to the cost. Holding sports events in covid times is proving to be a challenge: IPL players and staff have tested positive even before matches start. At the US Open, French star Kristina Mladenovic had to drop out after another player tested positive. For more quick updates, here’s Mint Lite.

A poisoning’s effect on a pipeline

Navalny, who German authorities said was poisoned with nerve agent novichok, has been removed from a medically-induced coma in Berlin where he is being treated
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Navalny, who German authorities said was poisoned with nerve agent novichok, has been removed from a medically-induced coma in Berlin where he is being treated

Alexey Navalny, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladmir Putin, may be improving but relations between Russia and Germany are deteriorating, and may affect the already delayed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Navalny, who German authorities said was poisoned with nerve agent novichok, has been removed from a medically-induced coma in Berlin where he is being treated. The incident has prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to indicate she could reconsider support for the gas pipeline with Russia, a shift from her earlier stance when she said the two issues were separate. The €9.5 billion, 1,230km pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which is close to completion, will help Germany secure a low-cost supply of gas from Russia. The US is worried the line will make Europe overly dependent on Russia as well as hit US gas suppliers, and has imposed sanctions, pushing out its 2019 completion date.

How to travel safely on the Metro

The Delhi Metro reopened two of its lines after 169 days, with masks, temperature checks and social distancing but just a handful of its 2.7 million daily commuters rode again
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The Delhi Metro reopened two of its lines after 169 days, with masks, temperature checks and social distancing but just a handful of its 2.7 million daily commuters rode again

The Delhi Metro reopened two of its lines after 169 days, with masks, temperature checks and social distancing but just a handful of its 2.7 million daily commuters rode again. About a dozen metro rail services across India opened on Monday with some like West Bengal introducing colour-coded, time-bound passes. The fear of covid-19 transmission in crowded coaches is keeping commuters away, but there are short-term ways to reduce the risk, apart from arming oneself with sanitizer and mask. Researchers suggest riding short distances, picking less crowded carriages and avoiding talking to fellow commuters. Contact tracing in Japan, France and Austria found little evidence of links between outbreaks and public transport use. Standing near the door may seem like you’ll get more air, but it’s also one of the highest traffic spots, studies show. And, of course, avoid touching surfaces—poles, seats, handholds.

No papers, no formal credit

Credit during the pandemic
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Credit during the pandemic

Microenterprises, or MSMEs, in India are dynamic businesses yet little is known about their ability to weather shocks and adapt. Covid-19 has had a complex impact on MSMEs, which are a major source of employment yet often lack access to credit as well as formal recovery strategies. About 40% of MSMEs have tried to take a loan in the past six months and 85% of them secured credit, though over half of the loans were from informal sources (see chart), shows a study of 2,000 MSME owners in tier-3 cities and rural areas by Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship and Krea University’s LEAD. Only 14% of the overall borrowing was from formal sources, including micro-finance institutions. The challenges for owners are in furnishing documentation for credit applications.

August was too hot to handle

August 2020 will go down as the fourth warmest on record worldwide
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August 2020 will go down as the fourth warmest on record worldwide

August 2020 will go down as the fourth warmest on record worldwide. Global temperatures for the month rose around 0.9°C above the historical average, says a report by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Record-breaking highs have been registered globally, including a reading of 54.4°C on 17 August in Death Valley, California, which is seeing widespread wildfire activity. Heatwaves brought higher-than-average temperatures to western and central Europe as well, while Northwestern Siberia and the Arctic Ocean also experienced above average heat. Although overall weather conditions have kept India cooler this year, on average for six years to 2019, the country has had 114 days of heat wave conditions every year. India’s annual average temperature has risen by 2°C over 200 years till 2006. It is predicted to rise further by 1.5°to 2°C by 2030.

Florence reopens wine windows

Florence has reopened centuries-old wine windows, which were last used in the 17th century during the plague outbreak, to serve socially distanced cocktails and wines to its thirsty residents
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Florence has reopened centuries-old wine windows, which were last used in the 17th century during the plague outbreak, to serve socially distanced cocktails and wines to its thirsty residents

As restaurants and bars across the world devise new methods to serve their customers while keeping them at a safe distance, a city in Italy, which was among the countries worst affected by covid-19 initially, has taken a traditional route. Florence has reopened centuries-old wine windows, which were last used in the 17th century during the plague outbreak, to serve socially distanced cocktails and wines to its thirsty residents. Though no official list exists, the Wine Window Association of Florence has counted more than 150 buchette del vino, or wine windows, scattered across the northern Italian city. Often decorated with small wooden doors, the openings are just big enough to stick one’s arm through with a glass of wine in hand. Wine windows were widely used when the bubonic plague ravaged northern and central parts of the country during the 17th century, to prevent spread of disease.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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