After weeks of heavy smog, the quality of air in northern Moravia has significantly improved, according to data release by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute released on Sunday. Nearly all measuring stations around the industrial city of Ostrava registered a decrease of dust pollution, which is now below the limit. The region had been hit by heavy smog, aggravated by pollution from several factories in the region. Last week, the Czech ombudsman’s office said they were going to investigate whether the authorities used all instruments granted to them by the law to pressure industrial firms to cut emissions.
This year’s long winter with changeable temperatures will cause record damage to roads in the Czech Republic, the country’s Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka told Czech TV on Sunday. The ministry estimates the maintenance costs at four billion crowns, or nearly 210 million US dollars, which is twice as much as last year. Mr Slámečka said the ministry only earmarked 1.2 billion crowns for maintenance this winter, and would have to transfer funds from other categories of the ministry’s budget. However, this should not affect any plans to build new roads and motorways. Roads are most affected by changing temperatures above and below zero which is the most frequent cause of potholes.
A local referendum held in the central Bohemian communities of Chvatěrubu
and Zlončice rejected plans to extend an airstrip outside Prague into
another international airport for the Czech capital, the news website
aktualne.cz reported on Sunday. The results of the referendums are binding
for the local authorities. Referendums in three other communities in the
area are planned for March.
The Penta investment group is planning to turn the existing airport in Vodochody, 30 km north-west of Prague, into a major hub with around 1.5 million passengers a year, around a tenth of the number that go through Prague's only international airport at present, Ruzyně.
Two robot-like figurines found on railway tracks in the Moravian city of Brno provoked suspension of train traffic on Saturday. The figurines were reported to the police on Saturday night for fear they might be connected to an explosive system. When the police bomb squad arrived at the site, they found the figurines had dial plates on them with wires leading into the torsos. However, no explosives were discovered, and the police believe the incident was in fact a joke. Traffic on the affected train line was suspended for some three hours. The police are looking for the persons responsible although they would be facing no penalties, a police spokeswoman said.
The Green Party leadership nominated on Sunday the party’s regional leaders for the general elections scheduled for May. The party’s chair, Ondřej Liška, will top the Green ballot in Prague, while former Green leader Martin Bursík will lead the party in the region of Ústí nad Labem, northern Bohemia. Sociologist Jiřina Šiklová was nominated as the election leader in the region of Hradec Králové. Romany activist and a Romany language lecturer tops the ballot in the region of Parudbice, in eastern Bohemia.
A ball held by the regional branch of the political party TOP 09 in Olomouc, central Moravia, was disrupted on Sunday night by a false bomb alarm, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. The police received an anonymous call at 10:45 claiming a bomb had been put inside Slovanský Dům where the ball was taking place. The police then evacuated around 250 guests and searched the premises but no bomb was found. Organizers said they were sorry the false alarm interrupted a charitable fundraiser, in which a pipe was being auctioned, donated by the party’s chair, former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
Those Czech athletes at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver who celebrate celebrate Valentine’s Day will do so over the phone or through text messages, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. Ski jumper Roman Koudelka said he might send a text message to his girlfriend Pavlína, who stayed in the Czech Republic, or call her on skype. Cross country skier and medal hopeful Lukáš Bauer will call his wife, Kateřina, just like any other day. Mogul skier Šárka Sudová and cross country skier Aleš Razým are among the few couples within the Czech Olympic team. But they will also exchange text messages since the former is based in Vancouver, while the latter in Whistler.
Cyclo-cross world champion and World Cup winner Zdeněk Štybar marked another success of this year’s season after winning the Superprestige series. On Sunday, 25-year-old Štybar won the series’ last event in Vorlselaar, Belgium, beating Belgium’s Niels Albert by one point in the series’ final standings. In the race, Štybar fell behind the top of the race in the sixth round. In the final race, another Czech, Radomír Šimůnek, fell and slowed down the group, allowing Štybar to pursue the leading man, Albert. In the finish stretch, Štybar took over to secure the victory.
Czech medal hopeful Nikola Sudová finished 16th in the ladies’ mogul skiing finals at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Sunday. Sudová qualified for the race and finished 12th in the first round. In the second, however, she landed badly after the second jump, finishing way beyond her expectations. 27-year-old Nikola Sudová currently ranks 4th in the World Cup. She came to Vancouver despite having sustained a knee ligament injury a month before the start of the Olympics. Speaking after the race, Sudová said she was disappointed about the result but glad she was able to finish the race at all.
Czechs Iveta Benešová and Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová secured the title in doubles at the Open GDF Suez in Paris on Sunday after their opponents, top-seeded Cara Black, of Zimbabwe, and Liezel Huber, of the United States, failed to show up for the game. In singles final, Czech Republic’s Lucie Šafářová lost to top seed Yelena Dementeva from Russia 7:6, 1:6 and 4:6. Paris was Šafářová’s eight tournament final in career, and the fourth she lost.