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Czech men’s basketball team reach Olympic qualifiers after historic result

The Czech men’s basketball team have made it to the qualification stage for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. They secured a berth in the qualifiers with a 97:70 win over Latvia on Friday to take seventh place at the EuroBasket championship – the highest placing ever achieved by the Czechs. Their Israeli coach Ronen Ginzburg said people had laughed when on taking the job he had said the team would be playing for a place at the Olympics.

Classic Czechoslovak films being made available on iTunes

The Shop on Main Street, which won Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1965, has become the first classic Czechoslovak film made available on the iTunes platform. Other gems from the National Film Archive, such as The Cremator, Witchhammer, Cutting it Short and My Sweet Little Village are to be made available soon. The movies come with the option of English subtitles and will be available in English-language markets as well as in the Czech Republic.

1989 leaders call for government to drop opposition to refugee quotas

A number of leading figures in the 1989 Velvet Revolution have written an open letter calling on the Czech government to reassess its opposition to an EU quota system for refugees. The group, comprising Michael Kocáb, Ivan Gabal, Fedor Gál, Jan Urban and Jan Ruml, said the government’s uncompromising position on the matter could lead to the erosion of the Schengen zone and the breakup of the EU. They said the public should be truthfully informed about the number of illegal migrants and asylum seekers who have passed through the Czech Republic in the last two decades without endangering the state. Other signatories include priest Tomáš Halík, political scientist Jiří Pehe and former Constitutional Court judge Eliška Wagnerová.

Blanka tunnel goes into operation four years after original target date

Prague’s Blanka tunnel went into operation at 3 PM on Saturday, four years after it was originally meant to open. The six-kilometre tunnel is the most expensive building project in the history of the Czech capital with a final price of CZK 43 billion, CZK 10 billion more than originally envisaged. When rain-damaged cables in the complex had to be replaced earlier this year it was feared Blanka – which was commissioned under former mayor Pavel Bém – would not actually open until 2016.

Army could quickly deploy 900 soldiers to help police deal with refugees, says chief of staff

The Czech Army could deploy 900 soldiers within 48 hours if called on by the police to help deal with the refugee crisis, the chief of staff, Josef Bečvář, said at a NATO festival in Mošnov in the Moravian Silesian Region on Saturday. The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said the army would discuss joint training exercises, which should take place by the end of this month, with police representatives on Monday. Over 150,000 people attended the NATO Days show, which is a record.

Krásná in West Bohemia named Village of Year

Krásná in West Bohemia has been named Czech Village of the Year, ahead of Vysočina in East Bohemi and Černotín in Moravia. Krásná, which has a population of just over 500, was selected from 13 villages that had won their regional Village of the Year competitions. Some 210 municipalities took part this year, almost 100 fewer than in 2014. The winner was announced at a folk festival in the Moravian town of Luhačovice.

Tenth Different City Experience festival takes place

The 10th edition of the Zažít město jinak (Different City Experience) event has begun in almost 60 places in Prague and 10 other Czech towns and cities. Billed as a celebration of public space, the festival is taking place over two days this year. The civic association Auto*Mat is the main coordinator of the street festival project but individual programmes are organised by local associations, cafés, arts organisations and individuals.