The Czech Republic drew 0:0 with Italy in a soccer World Cup qualification game in Prague on Friday night. The Czechs played relatively well but were left to regret a number of unconverted chances and failing to capitalise on numerical advantage following the sending off on 71 minutes of Italy’s Mario Balotelli. The result further reduces the Michal Bílek’s chances of reaching the competition, which takes place in Brazil next year.
The Christian Democrats have re-elected Pavel Bělobrádek as party leader. Two-hundred and forty-four of 272 delegates voted for the unopposed Mr. Bělobrádek at a party congress in Olomouc on Saturday. He told the assembled that he believed that the Christian Democrats would re-enter the Chamber of Deputies in elections scheduled for a year from now. Opinion polls have been putting the party, whose stronghold is in Moravia, at around the five-percent threshold needed to get into the lower house.
The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, has admitted to being drunk in interviews to broadcast media outlets on Thursday, the news site iDnes.cz reported. Mr. Kalousek slurred his words and struggled to speak coherently in interviews for Czech Radio and TV Nova on the subject of tax reliefs for flooded businesses. Speaking on Friday, the minister said he had had two shots of spirits and, as he was tired, they had affected him more than he had expected. He apologised and said he would not offer excuses similar to those produced by other politicians in the past.
Prague Zoo is to build a new gorilla enclosure at a higher altitude than the current one. Zoo officials reached agreement on the project with the acting mayor of Prague, Tomáš Hudeček, on Friday. Over 1,000 animals were moved from the lower part of the zoo ahead of floods this week. It was devastated by a deluge in 2002 that saw more than 100 animals die. The damage caused this week has been put at CZK 100 million, down from a previous estimate of CZK 160 million.
The Czech Republic’s footballers are taking on Italy in a key World Cup qualifier in Prague on Friday evening. The Czech team are at near full strength, though they will be without English Championship star Matěj Vydra, who is injured. Michal Bílek’s charges have had a mixed campaign so far and lie in third place in Group B after picking up only eight points from a possible 15. Leaders Italy, who are group favourites, have only dropped two points in the same number of games.
Prague’s Museum Night, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, has been postponed because of the recent flood situation. The event, in which museums and some galleries stay open late and offer free admission, is likely to now be held in September. The Respect festival of world music, which takes place on June 15 and 16, has been moved from its usual venue on Štvanice Island to Prague’s Ladronka. And a benefit concert for the devastated Jazz Dock club has been organised for Tuesday at Lucerna Music Bar.
All three of Prague’s underground rail lines are now working again, after the metro’s operators shut down the system earlier in the week for fear of flooding. However, trains are not stopping at nine stations, which remain closed. The entire system should be functioning as normal from Monday. Following catastrophic floods in 2002, in which more than a dozen stations were inundated, it took four months for the metro to return to normal.
The Foreign Ministry on Friday presented its Gratias Agit awards to people who have worked to promote the good name of the Czech Republic internationally. Among the recipients were the opera star Magdalena Kožená, priest Petr Esterka, who coordinates church services for Czechs in the United States, and German-based artist Jiří Georg Dokoupil. The Gratias Agit awards have been presented annually since 1997.
Local authorities in the Czech Republic have been told to keep flood defences in place as more rain is expected in the coming days. The order comes six days after a wave of flooding began in the country. Some people who were evacuated earlier in the week are returning to their homes, while many municipalities have begun cleanup operations and assessing the cost of the damage. However, thousands of people remain without electricity and states of alert are still in force in around a dozen places in Bohemia. Meanwhile, the number of deaths related to the floods has risen to 10.
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