The Czech Republic have sensationally reached the final of the women’s basketball world championships. After causing a huge upset with a win over title-holders Australia on Friday, the Czechs beat Belarus 81:77 in overtime in Saturday’s dramatic semi-final in Karlovy Vary. They will face either the US or Spain for the world title on Sunday. Bronze in 1975, while they were still part of Czechoslovakia, was the last medal the Czechs won in the tournament.
Allegations that a security agency with links to a minister conducted surveillance of a member of another coalition party have caused serious tensions within the Czech government. The company ABL, then owned by Transport Minister Vít Barta of the Public Affairs party, is reported to have been hired to spy on a Civic Democrat mayor in a district of Prague in 2006. The deputy leader of the Civic Democrats, the party that leads the government, told a Czech newspaper on Saturday that Public Affairs could lose its control of the Interior Ministry over the matter. However, the leader of the Public Affairs deputies group has sharply rejected that suggestion, saying the Interior Ministry – which is headed by party leader Radek John – had been a key issue during talks on forming a coalition.
Police have identified a man who was blown to bits when a hand grenade he was carrying went off while he was attempting to rob an exchange office in Krnov in the north-east of the Czech Republic on Thursday. The man, who was 34, was from the nearby town of Bruntál and had no criminal record. He was previously reported to have a spoken Czech with an “Eastern Slavic” accent. Four police officers were injured when the grenade went off, with reports that the actions of one officer in smothering the explosion may have saved several lives.
The Education Ministry has removed an ethics guide from a list of literature recommended for school pupils after a complaint from a gay rights group. The organisation Charlie said the book was homophobic and promoted conservative and religious beliefs; the publication claimed gay people were mentally unstable and in need of treatment, warned against masturbation, and criticised the use of condoms. The ministry said it was taking all books by the guide’s co-author Ladislav Lencz off recommended reading lists.
Staff numbers at Czech hotels and restaurants have fallen by 8.5 percent, according to figures provided by the Czech Statistical Office and the agency Mag Consulting. While 125,000 people worked in the industry at the end of the first half of 2009, at the end of June this year the number was 10,600 fewer. A representative of the Czech hotels and restaurants association said the trend was likely to continue. He said things were particularly hard for restaurants in rented premises.
The Zurich Film Festival is presenting the Czech-born film director Miloš Forman with an award for lifetime achievement on Saturday night. The festival is also screening a retrospective of movies by the Oscar-winning maker of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. After Zurich, Forman, who is 78, will travel on to Lyon, where he will be guest of honour at the French city’s film festival.
A torch used in the first Olympic torch relay for the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany has been auctioned in the Czech Republic for USD 28,100. The auction was ordered and held by a court in the west Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary because the owner of the torch was in debt. The estimated value of the torch prior to Friday’s auction had been USD 840.
The Czech men’s volleyball team beat Cameroon 3:0 at the sport’s world championships in Ancona, Italy on Saturday, ensuring themselves a place in the elite top 12 countries in the tournament. It is the greatest success in volleyball in 20 years for the Czech Republic. Previously they had beaten the reigning Olympic champions, the United States, at the world championships. In the next phase of the tournament they will probably play Germany and the loser of a game between Brazil and Bulgaria.
Vitkoria Plzeň continue to lead the Czech football league, after a 1:0 victory over Slavia in Prague on Friday evening made it 10 wins in a row for the west Bohemian club. They have only dropped two points in 11 outings this season. Plzeň are aiming to win the first league in their history in the year of the 100th anniversary of the club’s founding.
The manager of Sparta Prague football club, Jozef Chovanec, says some players will be fined for mistakes they made in a 3:0 defeat at CSKA Moscow in a Europa League game on Thursday. Chovanec told the newspaper Sport that the team’s captain Tomáš Řepka, who needlessly picked up a booking, would be among those sanctioned.