Athletes from Taiwan compete at the Olympics under the name of a make-believe country: Chinese Taipei. They march behind an imaginary national flag and, if they win a gold medal, hear an "alternate national anthem" being played. A referendum to challenge this will be held in Taiwan on Saturday. But nNo matter what voters want, nothing is likely to change. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 1,060 words, photos, video.


Before burgers must come the basics. The arrival of Claudio Ranieri as Fulham coach should ensure an end to the chaotic selections, loose defending, and naive approach that marked the promoted team's turbulent first three months back in the English Premier League under now-departed manager Slavisa Jokanovic. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 570 words, photo.


BARCELONA, Spain — With his imposing frame, aggressive attitude, and talent for scoring difficult goals, Diego Costa has rightly earned the reputation as a terror for defenders. But that status is in serious danger. Costa hasn't scored in the Spanish league this season, and he will be under even more pressure to end that slump when Atletico Madrid hosts Barcelona on Saturday with the Liga lead on the line. By Joseph Wilson. SENT: 610 words, photo.


ROME — The first city derby between Genoa and Sampdoria since the deadly Morandi highway bridge collapse could provide an opportunity for some relief from lingering mourning. By Andrew Dampf. SENT: 530 words.


LILLE, France — Jeremy Chardy is chosen ahead of Lucas Pouille for France's opening match of the Davis Cup final against Croatia. By Samuel Petrequin. SENT: 110 words, photos. Will be updated.


MOSCOW — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned from the Olympics for life over his country's doping scandals, has returned to a senior role in Russian football. SENT: 270 words, photo.


CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh — Mominul Haque equals the Bangladesh record with his eighth test century as he propels the hosts to 315-8 against the West Indies on the opening day of the first test. SENT: 520 words.


MELBOURNE, Australia — World Cup or Ryder Cup: Put Ian Poulter into a team event and he never seems to disappoint. By Dennis Passa. SENT: 480 words, photos.

— With:

— GLF--WORLD CUP NOTEBOOK — Vegas pleasantly surprised when weather forecast was wrong. By Dennis Passa. SENT: 660 words, photos.

— Also:

— GLF--HONG KONG OPEN — Three in lead as 2019 European Tour begins. SENT: 170 words.


It took Wales 93 years to beat the Springboks for the first time. On Saturday, a Welsh team brimming with confidence is seeking a fourth straight win over its former nemesis and, in another mark of the northern hemisphere's revival this month, a clean sweep of all four of its end-of-year tests for the first time ever. By Gerald Imray. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 0000 GMT. Wales team has moved.


LONDON — Co-captain Dylan Hartley is in the reserves along with recalled center Manu Tuilagi and No. 8 Nathan Hughes for England's rugby international against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday. SENT: 340 words, photos. Will be updated with Australia team.

— Also:

— RGU--ITALY-NEW ZEALAND — Barrett, McKenzie retained in All Blacks XV to play Italy. SENT: 780 words, photos.

— RGU--ARGENTINA TEAM — Pumas made 3 changes for Scotland test. SENT: 210 words, photo.


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The way Max Verstappen has driven recently offers encouragement of a more competitive Formula One title race next year. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— With:

— CAR--F1-WILLIAMS-KUBICA — Kubica's 2019 F1 return pleases a relieved Hamilton. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 510 words, photos.

Other Stories:

— BIA--DOPING-KAZAKH BIATHLETES — 9 Kazakh biathletes suspended on suspicion of doping. SENT: 230 words.

— FHK--WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS TROPHY — No 1 Dutch smash Britain to reach women's field hockey final. SENT: 230 words.

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES — LeBron James lead Lakers past Cavs in Cleveland return. SENT: 1,230 words, photos.

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES — Crosby stars in return, Penguins beat Stars 5-1. SENT: 1,380 words, photos.

YOUR QUERIES: Questions and story requests are welcome. Contact your local AP bureau or the AP International Sports Desk in London by telephone at +44 207 427 4224 or email