A 39-member Czech team is set to leave for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. The executive chairwoman of the Czech Paralympic Committee, Alena Erlebachová, said on Wednesday that the touring group would be happy with eight or nine medals. The Czechs took 11 medals in London four years ago. Cyclist Jiří Ježek, who achieved the country’s only gold medal at the last Games, will carry the Czech flag at the opening ceremony next Tuesday.
Radio Prague is on Wednesday celebrating the 80th anniversary of its first, shortwave broadcast, which was from outside Pardubice in East Bohemia on 31 August 1936. In connection with the anniversary the Foreign Czech of the Year Award, selected by Radio Prague and fellow Czech Radio station Vltava, was presented to doctor Karel Pacák. Radio Prague has six language sections, each of which produce a half-hour programme daily.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has failed in a bid to prevent anti-Muslim campaigner Martin Konvička from holding an event in front of Prague’s Embassy of Saudi Arabia on September 11. Mr. Konvička recently made headlines by staging a “mock Islamic State invasion” on the city’s Old Town Square. Prague City Hall said it could not meet the Foreign Ministry’s request for the planned event to be banned or moved because there were no legal reasons for doing so. Officials said the ministry was responsible for the security of other states’ diplomatic missions and that there were a number of other such offices near the Saudi embassy.
The budget airline Ryanair is planning to increase its number of routes from Prague by two next summer, adding the English city of Liverpool and Trapani in Sicily. The company currently has three routes from the Czech capital and had already planned two new ones – to Rome and Bergamo – from November. Ryanair said the new lines would mean an annual increase of around a quarter of a million people travelling from Prague.
The minister of justice, ANO appointment Robert Pelikán, is working on an amendment to the Criminal Code that would give customs officials powers to investigate crimes. Mr. Pelikán said the move would increase efficiency as it would do away with a situation under which customs officials hand cases over to the police who then go over the same ground. A similar idea was put forward last week by ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš, whose ministry oversees the Customs Administration. The interior minister, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, has come out against the proposal. He recently announced the creation of a new financial police unit to focus on tax crime from the start of next year.
Tributes have been paid to the gymnastics legend Věra Čáslavská, who has died at the age of 74. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Czech and world sport had lost one of the greatest icons. The country’s foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said Čáslavská had enjoyed unparalleled fame but at the same time was a modest and brave fighter. The head of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval, said the most successful Czech Olympian ever with seven gold medals had always been an example to others as a sportsperson and thanks to her civic positions and the remarkable fighting spirit she showed in her private life.
The Chinese company CEFC is free to purchase Prague’s high-end Mandarin Oriental hotel after the deal was approved by the Office for the Protection of Competition. The news was announced by a spokesperson for the anti-trust agency on Wednesday. The Chinese firm will buy the Malá Strana property through its company Karmelitská Hotel and says it aims to capitalise on the rapid rise in the number of tourists between the two countries. CEFC has already made substantial investments in the Czech Republic, buying Slavia Prague football club, the Lobkowicz brewery and a large chunk of air carrier Travel Service.
Marek Dalík, who was a close advisor of Mirek Topolánek when the latter was prime minister, left the Czech Republic on Wednesday morning, one day before he is due to begin serving a prison term, Neovlivní.cz reported. Mr. Dalík told the news website that the trip had been planned in advance and that he had informed the judge in his case of his intentions. On Thursday afternoon the one-time political operator is due to start a four-year term for soliciting bribes in connection with a large military contract in 2007.
Hamid bin Abdal Sani, a member of the Qatari ruling family who was prosecuted for having paid sex with underage girls in Prague, has sued the Czech Republic for non-material damage and lost income, the news site iDnes.cz reported. The police arrested Sani in September 2004 and he spent eleven months in custody for which he is demanding 250,000 crowns in compensation. He was later sentenced to 2.5 years in absentia, after being extradited to Qatar on the promise that he would be prosecuted there. Local prosecution dropped the case shortly after. In 2015 a Prague court lowered Sani’s sentence to 11 months and 8 days, the exact amount of time the prince spent in a Czech jail before his extradition.
Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská, whose seven gold medals made her the country's most decorated Olympic athlete, has died at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer. Čáslavská's medals included golds in gymnastics in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic games. She was a vocal critic of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and was banned from competing in the Olympics after signing the pro-reform manifesto "Two Thousand Words".