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Valley Stream Native Naomi Osaka Quits French Open After Media Standoff

australian open
Former Valley Stream resident, then 18-year-old unseeded Naomi Osaka, in third round action of the 2016 US Open against the number eight seed, Madison Keys, of the United States in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Now 23, Osaka has won the Australian Open. (Photo by Bruce Adler)

Valley Stream native Naomi Osaka has quit the French Open after she was fined $15,000 by Grand Slam organizers for skipping a news conference following her first-round win at the tournament. She was also warned of possible expulsion from Roland Garros and future majors if she fails to meet her media commitments.

In the run-up to the claycourt major, the world No. 2 announced she would boycott news conferences while in Paris to raise awareness of players’ mental well-being, saying the nature of questions from journalists is like “kicking a person when they are down.”

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” Osaka wrote on Instagram. “More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

Osaka started her French Open campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig and then snubbed the post-match news conference, although the four-time Grand Slam champion did hold a court-side interview immediately after the contest.

The board of the four Grand Slams said in a statement that the French Open organizers had asked Osaka to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to resolve the matter.

“The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being, and suggest dialogue,” the statement read.

“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them, and that rules should equally apply to all players.

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honor her contractual media obligations. The Roland Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine.”

“Anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable,” she wrote at the time.

The 23-year-old, who lives in Florida, has never made it past the third round at Roland Garros and arrived in Paris having played only three matches on clay this season after early defeats in Madrid and Rome.

Osaka, who according to sports business website Sportico earned $55.2 million over the past 12 months, has previously used her platform and considerable media attention to highlight issues of police violence and racial inequality.

MEDIA DUTY

While announcing her decision on Twitter to boycott news conferences she said she hoped the “considerable amount” that she expected to forfeit as fines would go towards a mental health charity.

Rafa Nadal, a 20-times Grand Slam winner, and women’s world No. 1 Ash Barty have said they believe players have a duty to address the media.

Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Mats Wilander said on Sunday that Osaka should not play tournament tennis until she is ready to take part in post-match news conferences.

“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences,” the board of the four Grand Slams added.

“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament … and the trigger of a major offense investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”

The board said it would be unfair to other players if Osaka refuses to face the press while others honor their commitments.

“We will see how everything will end up,” two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova said after her win in the opening round.

“But me personally, I was always trying to follow the rules and be fair not only on the court but off the court as well. Now it’s up to them to decide what’s going to be.”

Osaka showed no signs of being distracted by the issue during her opening match on a sun-bathed Philippe Chatrier court, however.

Asked in her courtside interview about how she adapts her game to the surface, Osaka said: “It’s a work in progress. Hopefully, the more I play the better I play.”

“I’m really glad that I won. It’s a beautiful court. I’ve only played two matches here (on Philippe Chatrier), one before the roof and one now, so hopefully I’ll keep it going.”

Osaka, who missed last year’s tournament due to a hamstring problem, was not keen on engaging in long rallies and seemed too powerful against the 63rd-ranked Tig.

She stamped her authority on the match early with a 5-2 lead but needed a second break of serve after the Romanian staged a late fightback.

Tig saved a breakpoint and a match point to take the second set into a tiebreaker before Osaka sealed it with a backhand winner to set up a second-round meeting with another Romanian in Ana Bogdan.

This report from Reuters features additional reporting from Joe Pantorno

NY to Adopt New CDC Mask Guidelines Effective Wednesday, Cuomo Says

cdc mask
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a protective mask during a news conference in Manhattan, in New York City, New York, U.S., May 5, 2021. Spencer Platt/Pool via REUTERS

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Fully vaccinated New Yorkers will be able to do almost anything in New York State without wearing a mask as of Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state will begin following, on May 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance on mask-wearing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That change will coincide with the regional reopening of the New York City area that same day.

On May 13, the CDC recommended that individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can walk outside without masks, and go maskless in most indoor settings. The agency still advises wearing masks in confined areas such as planes, trains, buses, and in large public venues such as hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Under the revised mask order for New York Srate, Cuomo said that any unvaccinated or immunocompromised New Yorkers who haven’t received the vaccine will still be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released a statement agreeing with Cuomo’s decision on Monday.

“There is no doubt that vaccines are paving the way back to normal life for our residents and business community,” she said. “The governor’s decision to adopt the CDC mask wearing guidance today reflects that truth as Nassau continues to put lifesaving shots into arms. As Nassau continues to lead the state for people receiving the vaccine, I trust our residents are able to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.”

Since the CDC announced its updated mask guidance, several stores such as Walmart, Target, and Trader Joe’s have dropped their mask wearing requirements for customers who are vaccinated.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

-With Briana Bonfiglio

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus.

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NY Dept. of Education Petitions To Cancel Spring State Exams

regents exams
Getty Images

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The New York State Department of Education is seeking a federal waiver to exempt third through 12th grade students from taking state exams for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year as the country continues to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

NYSED announced via a press release on Monday that it sent two federal waiver requests on state assessment and accountability requirements which are now available online for public comment. The department is accepting comments until Feb. 5, according to the release.

“Given the varying circumstances in each school district, the only fair and appropriate decision at this time is to seek waiver to forego testing and accountability requirements,” said Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa.

“In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have determined that the Spring 2021 state assessments cannot be safely, equitably and fairly administered to students in schools across the state and therefore are seeking these waivers,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr., in a statement.

The first waiver asks for the omission of state testing requirements for elementary, middle and high school students and allow the NYSED to give the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test only to those students who are attending school in person some days of the week.

The second waiver asks for permission to do away with a federal requirement that asks NYSED to assign a level 1 to 4 to “accountability subgroups” at a public school or school district based on performance. The grading system is meant to identify areas of most need of support and improvement. In addition, the second waiver proposes amending the New York state ESSA plan to allow schools currently identified for improvement to use 2018-19 standards instead of modified 2020-21 exit criteria.

The announcement comes shortly after state education officials canceled the January High School Board of Regents Exams due to the pandemic and issued modified diploma requirements for graduating students. Normally, New York state public high school students need to take and pass five Regents exams in order to graduate. But all Regents have been canceled since the pandemic first reached the state in March of last year.

After state officials broke the news about the petition, the state teacher’s union voiced their support for the move.

“In a year that has been anything but standardized, it’s the right move to seek this waiver to cancel this spring’s standardized exams,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Educators know their students’ needs and how to maximize their potential. We’re thankful that the Department and Regents are taking this step and are here to work them to ensure students can still showcase their hard work this spring in a safe and equitable manner.”

“Interim Commissioner Rosa, Regents Chancellor Young and the Board are putting students’ physical, social and emotional well-being first with this request,” added NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango in a statement.  “We’ve heard from countless educators across the state who know that canceling this year’s exams is in the best interest of their students. We urge the federal government to hear their voices and grant this request.”

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amNewYork and Metro Join Forces for Daily Giant

The two free weekly tabloids serving New York City are now one.

Schneps Media, publisher of amNewYork, acquired the assets of Metro New York and Metro Philadelphia, including the popular daily newspapers, websites, and digital media businesses serving New York City and Philadelphia.

As a result, Schneps Media has merged amNewYork and Metro New York to form amNewYork Metro. With 175,000 copies sent to press for Monday’s issues, its circulation is now more than twice than that of any other major daily circulated in the five boroughs.

In addition, Schneps adds more than 350,000 in weekly circulation with its community newspapers serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Schneps Media also covers the Long Island and Westchester markets.

Schneps’ combined digital reach will now grow to about 3.5 million unique visitors and 5.5 million page views per month with over 300,000 email newsletter subscribers and 500,000 social media followers.

Schneps plans to retain amNY.com as the digital brand for New York and will soon be launching amNY TV providing episodes of content across multiple digital platforms. The first series will be The World’s Fare featuring the best authentic international restaurants and their chefs in New York City.

Philadelphia is a new market for Schneps Media with METRO having the largest circulation in Philadelphia County.

Schneps Media executive Cliff Luster has been named Group Publisher for the New York and Philadelphia markets with former METRO executives Ed Abrams and Susan Pfeiffer acting as Publishers and Associate Publisher for New York City and Philadelphia respectively. Robert Pozarycki, amNewYork‘s current Editor in Chief, will serve in the same role for the combined New York City media.

METRO largely consolidated their Philadelphia newsroom into New York and Schneps Media plans to focus on hiring editorial staff that will be based in the local Philadelphia market for that office.

“I’m very happy that the readers and communities of New York and Philadelphia will get their news from publishers that have been devoted to local news coverage for over 35 years,” said Abrams. “I’m excited to be joining and leading the amNewYork METRO division with a company I competed with and also respected for many years.”

“This is an exciting next step for our entire organization offering a unique opportunity to strengthen our position in the daily newspaper market and increase our readership to over 2.5 million readers in print each week and many more online,” said Schneps Media CEO Joshua Schneps.

“Our expansion to the Philadelphia market is something we look forward to. We will be bringing our business model to this historic City,” said Schneps Media Founder and President Victoria Schneps. METRO Philadelphia is poised to grow tremendously and we look forward to working with the local community.”

Schneps Media is now the publisher and producer of two leading daily newspapers, 33 award-winning community newspapers, 28 magazines and specialty publications, 20 websites and more than 50 annual events throughout New York City, Long Island, Westchester and now Philadelphia.

Editor’s note: Schneps Media is the parent company of the Long Island Press.