News in brief for June 15: Czech Olympic Committee calls for Russian athletes to sign affidavit before 2024 Olympics

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, June 15, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 15.06.2023 08:05:00 (updated on 15.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

industry Car production accelerates in 2023

Data from the Association of the Automotive Industry released today shows that in the first five months of 2023 Czechia recorded a sizable 23.7-percent year-on-year growth in passenger-car production. Manufacturing plants produced a total of 595,580 vehicles in January-May. 

Electric cars accounted for 12 percent of the overall production, with 52,668 electric cars and 20,128 plug-in hybrids manufactured during this period. Škoda Auto, the country's largest car manufacturer, experienced a significant production increase of 34.4 percent, resulting in 375,981 cars being produced. 

sport Czech women's basketball team start EuroBasket with win

The Czech women's basketball team began the EuroBasket European championship in Tel Aviv with a 61:58 victory over Italy, despite losing by 14 points in the third quarter. The team will next play Belgium on Friday; the match starts at 11:15 a.m. (Central European time).

Also in Czechia’s group is hosting nation Israel, which will face Czechia on June 18. In 2010, Czechia claimed an impressive silver medal in the World Championship for Women, and it won the 2005 EuroBasket (and claimed silver in 2003).

NATO Pavel reasserts importance of Ukraine joining NATO

During an interview today with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Czech President Petr Pavel emphasized the importance of NATO member states taking a clear stance on Ukraine's potential membership in the bloc after the war. He also stressed that Ukraine cannot begin the accession process while still engaged in conflict with Russia. 

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Pavel firmly believed that Ukraine's inclusion in NATO and the EU would ensure regional stability, strengthen both organizations, and help restrain Russia's aggressive policies. He also highlighted the benefits Ukraine's membership would bring to NATO, citing their experienced military and readiness for membership in the near future.

SPORT Czech Olympic Committee suggests affidavits for Russian athletes

An expert group in the Czech Olympic Committee (ČOV) has today stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes should sign an affidavit condemning aggression against any UN state by another country before their possible start under a neutral flag at the Paris Olympics next year. In practice, this would actually mean condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The COV continues to be against any form of Russian and Belarus participation in Olympic qualifications and at the Paris Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, its representatives confirmed today. The Czech Senate said in March that the ČOV should not allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris. 

environment BCG: Czechia must invest CZK 1 trillion for carbon-free economy

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and the research-focused Aspen Institute reveals that Czechia will need to invest CZK 3.2 trillion by 2050 to transition to a carbon-free economy. 

Immediate investments are necessary, focusing on technology that can be exported to other countries in order to maintain the country's competitiveness and ensure a high standard of living for its population. By 2030, approximately CZK 1.2 trillion will need to be invested, with the energy sector requiring the majority of these funds, followed by industry, transport, automotive, agriculture, and waste management sectors to a lesser extent.

HEALTH Salmonella outbreak confirmed in Prague 10 hotel

On Thursday, the Prague hygiene station confirmed the occurrence of salmonella in a hotel in Bečvářova Street in Prague 10. About 20 guests there had health problems last week. They developed nausea, vomiting, intestinal problems, and collapsed states.

"Five guests had been transported by the medical emergency service for further treatment in a medical facility," the hygienists noted. There are no plans to close the hotel.

crime Former Czech ice hockey champion has prison appeal rejected

Former Czech ice hockey goalkeeper and world champion Roman Čechmánek, 52, has had his appeal rejected by the Olomouc High Court. As a result, a three-year suspended prison sentence with five-year probation has been upheld, following a five-year legal process. 

Čechmánek was found guilty of fraud, having knowingly borrowed money and ordered goods without the intention or means to repay his debts. The damages caused by his actions exceeded CZK 7.2 million. Despite his denial of any wrongdoing, Cechmanek, now working as a chief coach of youth in the Uherské Hradiště hockey club, had originally faced the possibility of an eight-year prison term.

law MPs discuss legal changes to remote and contract work

Members of parliament in the Chamber of Deputies are meeting this afternoon to discuss amendments to the Labor Code, which – among other things – could introduce the right to shorter working hours or guaranteed remote work for parents of children under the age of nine. 

They also seek to establish a clearer definition of contract work: if one amendment passes, contractors will also have the right to bonus pay for holiday, weekend, or nighttime work, or for working in challenging work conditions. Politicians will also discuss whether providing payments for employees who work from home – planned to be a minimum of CZK 2.8 per hour – will be optional or mandatory for employers.

politics Czech president marks first 100 days in office

President Petr Pavel is set to assess his first hundred days in office with a press conference and a meeting with Prime Minister Petr Fiala. According to analysts, Pavel has made significant changes to the government, appointing ministers and constitutional judges since taking office.

His efforts to mediate discussions between the government and opposition, engage with civil society, and coordinate foreign policy have been praised by political scientists. Pavel's tenure marks the fourth consecutive change in government since March when he succeeded Miloš Zeman.

society Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in Czechia

The Federation of Jewish Communities (FZO) in the Czech Republic reported a significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2022, with 2,277 incidents recorded compared to 1,128 in 2021. Most incidents occurred online, particularly on social media platforms, accounting for 97 percent of all reported cases. FZO emphasized that anti-Semitically motivated violence remains isolated in the country, and no violent acts against Jews were registered last year.

The federation also noted that while far-right websites are decreasing, disinformation sites, including pro-Russian platforms, are utilizing anti-Semitic rhetoric. Social media platforms were identified as the dominant platform for the spread of anti-Semitism, contributing to societal polarization.

tRAVEL Flight from Greece to Prague makes emergency landing

A Smartwings plane traveling from Crete to Prague was forced to make an emergency landing due to a technical fault Wednesday. The fault is believed to be related to cabin pressurization. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft had 122 passengers and six crew members on board. After less than an hour of flight, the plane turned back to the Greek island and safely landed at Heraklion Airport.

Smartwings arranged a replacement plane to transport the passengers back to Prague. The company said it prioritizes the safety of its passengers and crew and apologizes for the complications and delays caused by the incident.

economy State support for pension savings to change from January

The Czech government has approved changes to state support for pension savings, set to take effect next year. The amendments include increasing the threshold and maximum amount of the state allowance, extending the minimum savings period from five to ten years for new contracts, and introducing tax benefits for long-term investment products used for retirement provisions.

The proposed changes aim to encourage individuals to save for their retirement, with the state contributions no longer paid to individuals who have already received an old-age pension. Additionally, the amendment introduces a new type of fund called the alternative participation fund, allowing for more flexible investment strategies.

Brussels Czech govt. to ask EC for CZK 137 billion loan

The Czech government has approved an updated National Recovery Plan, which includes a loan of approximately CZK137.4 billion from the European Commission. They are also seeking an additional CZK 33.4 billion through new grants, effectively doubling the amount of funding compared to the original plan.

The revised plan will be sent to the European Commission. The recovery plan covers various areas such as transitioning away from fossil fuels, digitization, education reform, affordable housing, and geriatric care development. The government aims to secure funding for projects in education, green initiatives, affordable housing, railway reform, and geriatric care improvement.

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