Week Ahead: Leeds West Indian Carnival, eyes on Afghanistan and England football returns

Leeds West Indian Carnival returns online as the world eyes movements in Afghanistan, and the Three Lions get back out on to the field. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Picture: Simon Hulme.

Carnival fever

THE 54th Leeds West Indian Carnival will take place tomorrow, albeit in a virtual setting.

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Organisers said the decision to host it online this year and hold some physical events in the run-up was taken due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly on people from Black and Asian backgrounds.

Leeds West Indian Carnival was founded by Dr France in 1967 and is the oldest such event in England, attracting more than 150,000 people each year.

It is run entirely by volunteers who specialise in preserving and protecting Caribbean arts, culture and heritage.

Earlier this year, the carnival’s chairperson and founder, Dr Arthur France, said: “We are passionate about promoting and protecting our cultural heritage and carnival is the legacy of what our foreparents went through.”

Some of the physical events that have taken place in the run-up include the carnival’s Princess and Princess Show and the King and Queen Show, which went ahead at Quarry Hill over the last two weeks.

The virtual line-up today, which can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook, includes Leeds rapper Graft, winner of the 2020 Rap Game UK.

Evacuation ending

The eyes of the world will remain on Afghanistan after the last British evacuations following the Talban’s takeover.

US President Joe Biden rejected calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies to delay the withdrawal date of Tuesday for the remaining American troops despite chaos at Kabul airport.

The final UK troops and diplomatic staff were airlifted from Kabul on Saturday, drawing to a close Britain’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies.

Troops were scrambling to evacuate Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for Britain as the evacuation operation entered its final days along with “special cases” who may have been eligible, such as LGBTQ advocates, judges and human rights activists.

The Taliban had warned evacuations “will not be allowed” after August 31 and suggested foreign forces remaining past the deadline would cross a “red line” that would “provoke a reaction”.

The Government said of the 15,000 people evacuated since the Taliban seized Kabul, 5,000 were British nationals and their families.

More than 8,000 Afghans who helped the British effort as interpreters or in other roles, or who are otherwise vulnerable to persecution by the regime, were also able to flee to safety with their families.

Mr Johnson had hoped to persuade Mr Biden to maintain his forces on the ground to allow the evacuation effort more time during an emergency meeting of G7 leaders last week.

Football’s back

England’s national football team will walk out on to the pitch this week for the first time since suffering its penalties defeat against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

The men’s squad face Hungary at the Puskás Aréna on Thursday before taking on Andorra at Wembley Stadium on Sunday in 2022 World Cup group stage qualifiers.

Expectations are high for next year’s competition in Qatar – scheduled for the first time to take place during the winter, in November and December, because of temperature concerns – after adopted Yorkshireman Gareth Southgate this summer took the men’s side to the final of a major tournament for the first time since 1966.

South Yorkhire defenders John Stones, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire have been picked in the squad alongside Kalvin Phillips and his Leeds United team mate Patrick Bamford, who gets his first national nod.