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Published:Thursday | January 8, 2015 | 1:00 AM
Blatter
Tsonga
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Polish rider dies during Dakar Rally

LA RIOJA, Argentina (AP):

Organisers say that a Polish motorcyclist competing in the Dakar Rally has died of unknown causes. Dakar said in a special bulletin on its website on Tuesday that Michal Hernik, 39, died during the third stage of the race between San Juan and Chilecito, Argentina.

Hernik showed no signs of an accident and the circumstances of his death have not yet been determined. His death is the first in this year's Dakar Rally.

When Hernik's tracking signal was lost, a search began for the rider at 3:23 p.m. local time (1823 GMT), according to the statement. An ambulance helicopter found the rider about 300 metres from the route about 30 minutes later.

It was Hernik's first time participating in the race.


Oceania backing Blatter

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP):

The 11 nations of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have expressed unanimous support for the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

In a statement following the Confederation's annual congress yesterday, the OFC said "a resolution unanimously supporting FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter in his bid for re-election was supported by a letter signed by all 11 OFC member associations".

Blatter, 78, is seeking a fifth term at the head of football's world body, while current FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan has announced he will challenge. OFC president David Chung of Papua New Guinea was re-elected unopposed at yesterday's congress and becomes FIFA vice-president with immediate effect.

Chung told the congress: "We need to be united, transparent, and make collective decisions for the good of OFC."


Tsonga withdraws from Australian Open

PARIS (AP):

Still hampered by an injury to his right forearm, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled out of the Australian Open. The 12th-ranked Frenchman struggled with the injury during France's loss to Switzerland in the Davis Cup final in November. He then took part in the lucrative International Premier Tennis League, a franchise-based exhibition competition in Asia and the Middle East.

After withdrawing from the Hopman Cup this week because of the pain, Tsonga said yesterday he is "still suffering from a forearm inflammation that prevents me from being at 100 per cent of my capacities in a competition".

Tsonga, the runner-up at the Australian Open in 2008, posted pictures of his arm in a protective cast on his website and said he will need three more weeks of treatment before returning to the tour.