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21/06/2021
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Tokyo Organizers Predict Safe Olympics, But Many in Japan Skeptical

Opinion polls have for months suggested most Japanese oppose holding the Olympics. Some medical experts warn the event could lead to coronavirus clusters or spread new variants.But with only a month to go until the Olympic cauldron is lit in Tokyo, organizers remain confident they can safely hold the Games, thanks in part to pandemic precautions that will ensure this Summer Olympics are like no other in history. International spectators have already been banned from the Olympics, which start July 23. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it is “definitely” possible the competition will be held in completely empty venues, depending on Japan’s COVID-19 situation. According to athlete guidelines issued last week, hugs, handshakes, and high-fives are forbidden. Off the field, virtually any degree of spontaneity has been outlawed, as athletes and staff must submit a detailed daily activity plan, including visits only to approved destinations.  A machine to check body temperature and hand sanitizers are placed at the doping control station of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo, Japan, June 20, 2021.“You must not walk around the city,” specifies one section of the guidelines. Violators may be subject to disqualification, fines, or even deportation, the rules stipulate. With such measures in place, public opposition toward the Games is softening. But it is still widespread, with many saying Japan should instead focus on its own tepid pandemic recovery.Only about a third of Japanese support holding the Olympics, according to a poll released Monday by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Though that figure may seem low, it is up from just 14% who supported the Games last month. About 86% of Japanese are concerned about a resurgence in COVID-19 cases because of the Games, suggested a Kyodo News survey published Sunday. Vaccine woes Japan has seen a small number of coronavirus cases compared to many other countries, but its vaccination effort has been sluggish. Only around 6% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated, one of the worst rates among wealthy countries.  Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike inspects a vaccination of COVID-19 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office in Tokyo as Tokyo Metropolitan Government started vaccination for the persons involved in the Olympic Games, June 18, 2021.While vaccinations have picked up in recent weeks, that does little good for the tens of thousands of Tokyo 2020 volunteers still waiting to be inoculated.One Olympics volunteer told VOA that if he does not get vaccinated soon, he may join the approximately 10,000 Tokyo 2020 volunteers who have already dropped out. “I’m very impatient,” said the volunteer, who did not want his name published because he is not authorized to speak with the media. He says unvaccinated volunteers feel unprepared to work with crowds. “Masks, disinfectant sprays, and leaflets distributed by the organizers to volunteers will not be enough to prevent infection when an infected person appears,” said the volunteer, whose job is to work with visiting media.  Japanese officials say they are considering vaccinating all 70,000 unpaid Olympics volunteers. But they are running out of time to do so. Even so, Japanese officials insist the danger will be minimal. They say an estimated 80% of the athletes and other Olympics visitors will be vaccinated. That may not be good enough, considering Japan’s low overall vaccination rate, according to some medical experts. “There is a big problem here,” Norio Sugaya, infectious disease expert and doctor at Keiyu Hospital in Yokohama, told VOA. “It is extremely difficult to completely regulate the behavior of a total of 100,000 people, including athletes, officers, and media personnel,” Sugaya said.  “I don’t think we should do something as risky as the Olympics at this time,” he adds.  A journalist looks at cardboard beds, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Villages, which are shown in a display room the Village Plaza, June 20, 2021, in Tokyo.Pushing aheadBut Tokyo, which has spent billions of dollars in taxpayer money on the event, seems to believe moving ahead is the least bad option.The Games, which were already delayed a year because of the pandemic, This long exposure photo shows streaks of lights from cars passing by a Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics sign on the side of a building, June 11, 2021, in Tokyo.Political impact  Japan’s government, whose approval ratings are only in the 30% range, also hopes to reap some political benefit from hosting a successful event.  Prime Minister Suga’s government is planning to hold a lower house election once the Olympics finish, points out Wallace. “They will be hoping they get a little post-Olympics boost going into that election. But I think they will be unpleasantly surprised,” he predicts. Professor Kirsten Holmes of Australia’s Curtin University, who focuses on the sustainability of major international events like the Olympics, agrees that the pandemic has raised the cost for Tokyo in hosting the Games.  “On the other hand, being able to deliver a safe Olympic Games at this time during the pandemic will be an enormous boost to both people living in Japan but also Japan’s future in terms of hosting other events going forward,” she said.

21/06/2021
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Poll: Support Rising in Japan for Tokyo Olympics this Summer

Around a third of Japanese now back holding the Olympics, up from just 14 percent last month, a new poll showed Monday, though a majority still prefer cancellation or postponement because of the pandemic. The poll reinforces other recent surveys that suggest opposition to Tokyo 2020 is softening slightly, just over a month before the July 23 opening ceremony. Support for holding the virus-postponed Games rose to 34 percent, according to the poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper published on Monday. However, 32 percent still want the Games to be cancelled altogether and 30 percent want the games to be delayed again, down from 43 percent and 40 percent in last month’s survey, respectively. Organizers have ruled out postponing the Games again, and the first Olympic athletes have already arrived in Japan. The Asahi survey was conducted on June 19 and 20, with 1,469 responses from people contacted on home and mobile phones. It comes after several recent surveys that offered respondents the choice between cancelling the Games or holding it — with no postponement option — found that more back holding the event than scrapping it. The shift in sentiment will be welcome news for organizers, who are expected to announce later Monday how many local fans, if any, will be in the stands for the Games. After a coronavirus state of emergency ended in Tokyo on Sunday, new restrictions limit audiences at large events to 5,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is smallest. That rule is scheduled to be in place until July 11, after which the cap will expand to 10,000 people or 50 percent capacity. Local media reports suggest Olympic organizers will set a 10,000 spectator cap, but that the audience for the opening ceremony could swell to 20,000 including dignitaries and sponsors. Japan has seen a comparatively small virus outbreak, with around 14,500 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns. But its vaccine rollout started slowly, only picking up pace in recent weeks. Around 6.5 percent of the population is currently fully vaccinated. 

21/06/2021
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Spain’s Jon Rahm Wins US Open to Claim First Major Title

From a significant disappointment earlier in the month, Jon Rahm of Spain told himself that something good would come from that. It sure didn’t take long for that to unfold for one of the world’s emerging golf stars. Rahm shot 4-under-par 67 in the final round of the U.S. Open to cap a remarkable turnaround from two weeks ago and capture his first major championship Sunday at Torrey Pines in San Diego. “I’m a big believer in karma,” Rahm said. “After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive knowing big things were coming. I didn’t know what it was going to be. … I got out of Covid protocol early. I just felt like the stars were aligning.” Two weekends ago, Rahm dealt with devastation when a positive Covid-19 test meant he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial despite holding a six-shot lead after three rounds. That sent him into quarantine, putting his entry into the U.S. Open in jeopardy. Rahm’s four-round total of 6-under 278 was good for a one-shot victory on South African Louis Oosthuizen. Rahm had birdies on the final two holes — both with putts of more than 18 feet — to move to the front. It had been almost four decades since a golfer birdied the last two holes to win a U.S. Open. “I can’t even believe I made the last two putts,” he said. But Oosthuizen, who was in the final pairing, had three holes to play at that point. Oosthuizen secured five consecutive pars after a bogey on the par-3 11th, but a bogey on No. 17 pretty much ended his chances unless he could produce an eagle on the last hole — something he pulled off Saturday on the par-5 layout. Not this time, as he settled for birdie and a final-round 71. “I’ll keep knocking on that major door,” Oosthuizen said. Rahm, who became the first U.S. Open champion from Spain, was on the practice range warming up for a potential playoff when the outcome was sealed. He said he feels right at home on this California course, where he won for the first time on the PGA Tour by claiming the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open. “I’m very biased,” Rahm said. “I love this golf course, but I think it’s going to become one of those iconic venues as well.” Rahm became a father for the first time earlier in the spring. So he celebrated Father’s Day in style. He now lives in Arizona, but he’s fond of San Diego. “Every time we come here, we’re just happy,” Rahm said. “As soon we land in San Diego, we’re like ‘we’re in our spot.’ ” Rahm, 26, tied for third place in the 2019 U.S. Open for his previous best outing in a major. His background at the championship was notable because he was the low amateur in 2016, when he tied for 23rd. Rahm matched for the best score in the field Sunday, with Patrick Reed and Oosthuizen has won one major (2010 British Open) and he has six runner-up spots in majors. That list includes tying for second at last month’s PGA Championship. “I’m second again,” Oosthuizen said. “Look, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. I’m playing good golf, but it’s not winning a major.” Harris English finished third at 3 under, with his final-round 68 his lone sub-70 score of the tournament. He had bogeys on three of the first four holes, but played the last five holes in 3 under. Brooks Koepka (69), Collin Morikawa (70) and Italy’s Guido Migliozzi (68) were at 2 under to share fourth place. Russell Henley and Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes, who along with Oosthuizen were tied atop the leaderboard through three rounds, weren’t factors. Henley (76) tied for 13th at even for the tournament and Hughes (77) tied for 15th at 1 over. There were 20 golfers within five shots of the lead when the round began. Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau was two shots off the lead when the day began and was 2 under for the round through eight holes and briefly was in the lead. He tumbled out of contention, playing Nos. 11-17 in 8 over and ending up with a 77. His quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 17 was the final damage. “I’ve had plenty of times where I hit it way worse than today and I won,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just one of those things where I didn’t have the right breaks happen at the right time.” DeChambeau’s 3 over put him tied for 26th.  PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson shot 75 and finished 11 over, tying for 62nd place. 

20/06/2021
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Women’s College Sports Get Boost in TV Ratings, Visibility 

Odicci Alexander became an overnight sensation at the Women’s College World Series.James Madison’s dynamic, endearingly humble pitcher was well-known among die-hard softball fans, but she introduced herself to a national audience by throwing a complete game to help her unseeded squad stun tournament favorite Oklahoma in the opening game earlier this month. She threw another complete game the next day in a victory over Oklahoma State and a star was born.As her team was being eliminated in the semifinals, Alexander drew a standing ovation when she left the field. Fans watching on TV and streaming devices were sorry to see her go — and so was ESPN, which has been broadcasting the WCWS since 2000.Nick Dawson, ESPN’s vice president of programming for college sports, called her emergence and her battles with Oklahoma “the overarching story of the event,” and said she set the tone for a memorable week.”It just so worked out that she, as a dominant pitcher, ended up paired against arguably the greatest offensive softball team in the history of the sport in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series,” Dawson said. In the spotlightCoverage of Division I women’s sports has been in a particularly bright spotlight in 2021 and the record-setting WCWS was just the latest example of growing interest — and growing demands for a more equitable playing field when compared with men’s events.ESPN has been experimenting in recent years with showing more women’s sports on its various platforms, and good numbers have led the network to become more aggressive. Television viewership was up significantly compared with that of 2019 in the four most popular women’s college sports — basketball, softball, gymnastics and volleyball. The network expanded its volleyball coverage this year to include every match of the championship on an ESPN platform.The Walt Disney Co. owns ABC and ESPN, and Dawson said ESPN is pushing to get more sports programming onto Saturday afternoon spots on ABC. This year, ABC broadcast women’s basketball games and a women’s softball game for the first time.The women’s gymnastics final on ABC averaged 808,000 viewers, a 510% increase over the 2019 final on ESPNU.Ripples of the increased exposure are being felt. According to the Social Blade social media analytics site, Alexander gained more than 50,000 Instagram followers within a week of her win over Oklahoma. She has since signed a professional contract with the USSSA Pride.’Pentetrated the culture'”There were enough places where that story was told this time around that she’s reached a certain critical mass,” said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture. “She’s penetrated the culture. That is the important part of that story.”Alexander’s story resonated on various levels. She’s a Black player in a largely white sport who knocked off the eventual national champion while playing for an upstart school.”I’m sure there have been great stories filled with all of these great narrative flourishes like hers that have been going on in women’s sports for years,” Thompson said, “but people who would have loved those stories never hear them because there hasn’t been a lot of space given.”FILE – Oklahoma players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Florida State in the final game of the NCAA Women’s College World Series softball championship in Oklahoma City, June 10, 2021.The average number of viewers for the three championship final games between Oklahoma and Florida State was a record 1,840,000, up 15% over 2019. The average for the 17-game WCWS was 1,203,000, up 10% over 2019 and numbers comparable to those from the men’s College World Series in 2019.”Finally, there is this recognition that if you show it, people will watch it,” Thompson said. “And there’s been a lot of resistance to that to women’s sports, probably because a lot of the people managing the media outlets, a lot of the people managing the various sports venues and so forth just assumed they couldn’t get the kinds of numbers that they wanted.”As the viewership numbers climbed, coaches used the broader platform to speak up.Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said changes were needed to make sure the sport makes positive strides as its popularity grows. She pointed out issues she had with the WCWS format, saying adding off days, eliminating doubleheaders and ensuring that games end at reasonable times should be among the changes considered. Though ESPN and the NCAA converse on those issues, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee oversees the format and scheduling for the event.Basketball, tooRatings also were high for the women’s basketball Final Four. The championship game drew more than 4 million viewers — the highest total since 2014 and up 9% from 2019. The semifinals averaged 2.8 million viewers, the best numbers since 2012 and a 20% jump from 2019. The Final Four weekend numbers overall were up 14%.The volleyball championship match between Kentucky and Texas averaged 696,000 viewers, up 28% from 2019. Kentucky’s victory was the most viewed telecast on ESPN2 for the month of April.The growth includes the number of sports getting exposure. ESPN added ice hockey, field hockey and cross country to the women’s sports championship schedule in the spring, bringing the total number of women’s championships the network broadcasts to 15.Dawson said ESPN would remain aggressive about expanding programming opportunities for women’s sports. Thompson said that made sense.”For women’s sports, there is lots and lots and lots of room for lots and lots and lots of growth,” he said. “If I were looking to invest in a genre of futures of American entertainment, women’s sports would be close to the top of my list.”

19/06/2021
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Beyond ‘In the Heights,’ Colorism Persists, Rarely Addressed

Every year, Hollywood inevitably comes under criticism for its lack of racial diversity. But another lesser-known yet still pervasive problem also resurfaces: the lack of diversity in skin tone.It happened again with “In the Heights,” a big-budget film based on the musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which was called out this week for its dearth of dark-skinned, Black Latinos in leading roles.  Colorism — or discrimination against darker-skinned people within their same ethnic group — lurks deep among pretty much all communities with varying levels of melanin. But it doesn’t get talked about, and that could be a setback for the racial justice efforts that intensified after the police killing of George Floyd last year.Avoiding the conversation will hinder the battle for racial justice because the two are “fully and inextricably linked,” said Ellis P. Monk, Jr., a sociology professor at Harvard University who has been researching colorism for years.  Monk says the issue is prevalent in all communities of color and has been taboo in part because it’s uncomfortable to talk about internal strife while also fighting against broader discrimination based on race and ethnicity.  “In a way, colorism and skin tone stratification is an even more difficult problem to fix because you could make the argument that everyone is involved in the system of colorism,” Monk said. “If we think about race and racial inequality without taking these skin tone differences seriously, then we’re actually missing how this system of racial inequality works.”Miranda, best known as the creator of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” and a longtime champion of including Latinos in the arts, recognized his own short-sightedness in addressing colorism and issued an apology.  “I can hear the hurt and frustration, of feeling still unseen in the feedback,” Miranda wrote. “I hear that without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the work feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”The legendary Rita Moreno likewise turned introspective on colorism after she faced backlash in her defense of Miranda when she implied that Latinos should be grateful they’re being represented in any fashion. She has since apologized.There is little data that tracks discrimination based on skin tone, and therefore it is hard to quantify just how pervasive colorism is. But the studies that do exist show that people with darker skin have higher incarceration rates, lower access to health care and education and live in poorer neighborhoods, several experts say.  Nayeli Chavez, a clinical psychologist and faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, has spent a decade looking into racial differences between ethnic groups.  “We have been socialized from childhood to look down on darker skin, on indigenous features,” Chavez said.As a psychologist who has dedicated her career to helping people heal from racial trauma, Chavez sees how avoiding the topic of colorism is detrimental and says there is a false assumption in Latin America that because those places were colonized and its people are of mixed races, there is no racism.  The key to changing behavior is by teaching history accurately and admitting that those biases exist.  “Racial justice begins with our own community. It literally begins in our own families,” Chavez said. “This is an area that there’s so little about. We are barely like touching the tip of the iceberg.”Nancy López, a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico, said one way Latinos and other communities of color can begin to address colorism is by asking themselves a simple question: what is your “street race?”  Street race refers to the race someone assumes you are when you’re walking down the street and they know nothing else about you. Take former President Barack Obama, who is half-white. Someone who saw him in the street would likely see him as Black — his street race.  López, who also directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice at UNM, said the concept of street race affects family dynamics, too. Two siblings from the same parents may have different skin tones and therefore different experiences in how they’re perceived and treated, López said. “Reflecting on your street race is one way of practicing solidarity with those siblings, cousins, partners, relatives who may be racialized very differently than you, may be experiencing racializing in a very different way,” she said.While some may find calling attention to colorism divisive, López says it’s the opposite. If communities don’t talk about it, they’re not in total solidarity, she said.

18/06/2021
by Artist
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Jersey City Holds Its First Mural Festival – and It’s an Explosion of Color

More than 50 walls, over 27,000 square meters of wall space, dozens of artists and tons of paint. It’s all part of the Jersey City Mural Festival in the US state of New Jersey. Maxim Avloshenko has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.
Camera: Maxim Avloshenko

18/06/2021
by Artist
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Osaka, Nadal Both Out for Wimbledon; She’ll Go to Olympics

Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal are sitting out Wimbledon, leaving the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament without two of the sport’s biggest stars as it returns after being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, wrote Thursday in an email that the four-time Grand Slam champion does plan to head to the Summer Games after skipping Wimbledon.”She is taking some personal time with friends and family,” Duguid wrote. “She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”Osaka, 23, was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father. The family moved to the United States when she was 3 and she is still based there.Osaka has been ranked No. 1 and is currently No. 2. She is the highest-earning female athlete and was the 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year. She is 14-3 this season, including a title at the Australian Open in February.Last month, Osaka was fined $15,000 when she didn’t speak to reporters after her first-round victory at the French Open. The next day, she pulled out of the tournament entirely, saying she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting with the media and revealing she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”In a statement posted on Twitter at the time, she said she would “take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”Osaka has played at Wimbledon three times, twice exiting in the third round and losing in the first round in 2019.FILE – Spain’s Rafael Nadal waves to the crowd after losing to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, June 11, 2021.Wimbledon, which was called off in 2020 for the first time since World War II because of COVID-19 concerns, begins main-draw play on June 28. The Olympic tennis competition opens on July 24.Nadal, a two-time champion at the All England Club, announced via a series of social media posts Thursday that he would also miss the Tokyo Olympics to rest and recover “after listening to my body.””The goal,” the 35-year-old Spaniard said, “is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy.”Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in four grueling sets that lasted more than four hours in the semifinals of the French Open last week — just the third loss for Nadal in 108 career matches at Roland Garros, where he has won a record 13 championships.That defeat ended Nadal’s 35-match winning streak at the clay-court major tournament and his bid for a fifth consecutive title there.After the loss to Djokovic at Roland Garros, Nadal pointed to fatigue as an issue for him in the later stages of that match.On Thursday, he explained in one his tweets that avoiding “any kind of excess” wear and tear on his body “is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles.”A former No. 1-ranked player who currently is No. 3, Nadal is 23-4, with two titles this season in Barcelona and Rome, both on clay courts.

17/06/2021
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Rafael Nadal Pulls Out of Wimbledon, Tokyo Olympics

Spain’s Rafael Nadal will not play at Wimbledon or at the Tokyo Olympics, saying Thursday he has decided to skip the two tournaments after “listening” to his body.Nadal, who reached the French Open semifinals this month but lost to Novak Djokovic, won the title at Wimbledon twice. He also won the Olympic gold medal in singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition,” Nadal said.He said the fact there was only two weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon “didn’t make it easier” on his body to recover from “the always demanding” clay-court season.
 

16/06/2021
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Did Soccer Superstar Ronaldo’s Coca-Cola Snub Cost Company $4 Billion?

Did a small gesture by soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo really cause Coca-Cola to lose $4 billion?It’s hard to say. In a Monday press conference ahead of Portugal’s Tuesday match with Hungary in the Euro 2020 tournament, the Portuguese striker sat down at the microphone and moved two bottles of Coca-Cola away from him and lifted a bottle of water.“Agua” he said, appearing to encourage drinking water instead of soft drinks.Ronaldo, 36, is known to maintain a very healthy diet, which included eating up to six small meals a day.Earlier this month, he tweeted “My body is my weapon. It’s the most important thing to me. In football, we are always told to eat well and train well to have a longer professional career.”My body is my weapon. It’s the most important thing to me. In football, we are always told to eat well and trainwell to have a longer professional career, but to me, recovery is a key ingredient. That’s why I choose the best in recovery – @Therabodypic.twitter.com/G8Uwy67miQ— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 2, 2021Coca-Cola is a sponsor of the Euro 2020 tournament, and on Monday, the share price closed at $56.16. On Tuesday, shares fell to $55.23 at the opening bell, costing the company $4 billion in market value.Whether Tuesday’s drop can be attributed to Ronaldo’s gesture is impossible to know, but the soft drink giant underperformed the broader market Tuesday.Coke’s stock remains up about $2 per share over the past year.In response to Ronald’s move, the organizer of the tournament, the Union of European Football Associations, said in a statement that “Coca-Cola offers a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament.”“This includes waters, isotonic sports drinks and juices, coffee and tea, as well as Coca-Cola. Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, on arrival at our press conferences and can choose their preferred beverage.”Health advocates praised the move, with Britain’s Obesity Health Alliance saying he was “setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink.” It’s great to see a role model like Ronaldo reject Coca Cola for water, setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink.#AdEnoughhttps://t.co/YXBLdLfKWe— Obesity Health Alliance (@OHA_updates) June 15, 2021Portugal defeated Hungary 3-0, with Ronaldo contributing two goals.

16/06/2021
by Artist
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Rita Moreno Discusses Finding Self-Worth and Never Giving Up

Rita Moreno emigrated with her mother from Puerto Rico at age five. By six, she was dancing at Greenwich Village nightclubs. By 16, she was working full time. By 20, she was performing in “Singin’ in the Rain.””I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met in the business who lived the American dream more than Rita Moreno,” Norman Lear says in the documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.”In the decades that followed, Moreno has won a Tony, a Grammy, an Emmy and Oscar, for “West Side Story.” (Her entire acceptance speech: “I don’t believe it.”) With seemingly infinite spiritedness, she has epitomized the best of show business while also being a victim to its cruelties. That has made Moreno, who co-stars in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming “West Side Story” remake, a heroic figure to Latinos, and to others. “I have never given up,” she said in a recent interview by Zoom from her home in Berkeley, California.The reason for the conversation was Mariem Pérez Riera’s intimate and invigorating documentary, which opens in theaters Friday after playing virtually at the Sundance Film Festival and at an outdoor premiere at the Tribeca Festival. The film opens with Moreno preparing a Cuban themed party for her 87th birthday. “And I demand costumes,” the screen legend says with a smile.Grand Marshal Rita Moreno waves to the crowd during the 131st Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)As upbeat as Moreno remains, “Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” also deals frankly with the many turbulences of Moreno’s life: being positioned as the “Spanish Elizabeth Taylor” and the stereotyped casting that followed; a long and painful relationship with Marlon Brando; the abuse of her agent; a confining marriage.
Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.AP: What struck me most watching the film is that despite going through what would defeat or embitter most, you seem to have emerged with such joy and appreciation for life.Moreno: I have a very strong constitution. Maybe you inherit it. Maybe it’s due to learning how to cope with my tumultuous life through psychotherapy. I really credit that for helping me through some really, really bad times. My mom was like that, too. And you know what? I have a feeling that a lot of people who are outliers have strong constitutions because it’s either sink or swim, right? And I think you learn early on in life that swimming is preferable to sinking.AP: How early did you learn that?Moreno: The first test, I think, was learning English in kindergarten when I didn’t know a word, not a word. That’s the first thing that happened to me literally when I came to this country. Children are impressively resilient. And then, in a way, they’re also extremely tender and fragile. I think the reason I ending up having such a hard time in life is that I ran into a racial bias very early on. When you’re young — I mean 5, 6, 7 — and people call you bad names like “spic” or “garlic mouth” or “gold tooth,” like in “West Side Story,” you’re tender, you’re a child. You believe these things. You believe that you’re not worthy. AP: Your life seems to be this long process of unlearning the cruel or wrong things you were told about yourself.Moreno: What a wonderful way to put it. You’re absolutely on the money. I had to learn that I was a person of value like all other people. But it’s very difficult when you learn something from childhood. It’s not as though I came to this country when I was 20 and learned something different. I was a little girl and you’re very impressionable. You believe that you don’t have value. You don’t know why you don’t have it, but you believe it. And, man, that is so hard to get rid of.AP: Your central therapy session followed years with Marlon Brando. In your memoir, you spoke about him as your greatest lover but your time with him was torturous.Moreno: Here’s what’s hilarious to me. It was he who said to me: “You need help. You need therapy.” So the lunatic is telling the crazy woman that she needs help! (Laughs). But he was right! He was right. I remember the day he said that to me, I thought: “Yeah, but he’s crazy as a loon!”AP: After “West Side Story,” you’ve said you were offered only similar, stereotypical roles for years.Moreno: Those were brutal. Brutal! When I got the Oscar and the Golden Globe, I thought: “OK, finally.” And that’s not what happened at all. In fact, it was the opposite. I was offered more Anita-type roles when I was offered something, which was not that frequent. I made a decision not to accept any more of those kinds of roles. It was a lot of coffee pourers, housewives and stuff. I said I’m not going to do them anymore. Ha-ha, I showed them. I didn’t make a movie for seven years. I mean, how stubborn can you get?AP: You recently revisited “West Side Story” with Spielberg. How was that?Moreno: It was just grand. I’ve been a fan of Steven’s work for years. When he called, he offered me a part in “West Side Story.” I nearly peed my pants because this is Steven Spielberg, one of my idols. I said to him that I would love to do a cameo, but I said, “You don’t really want me to do that, do you?” And he said, “Oh, no, no. It’s a part. It’s a real part. Tony Kushner wrote it for you.” First of all, Tony Kushner’s writing the script? What! I was thrilled. I was excited the way a child would be excited.AP: I don’t imagine you do, but do you have any regrets?Moreno: If I can’t have all the movies I always wanted to be in — which are all the Meryl Streep movies, I wanted to be her — but if I can’t do that, I’ve done pretty well, considering. And I think I’ve left an important legacy in a very, very meaningful sense and that is: That I have never gave up.

16/06/2021
by Artist
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People Hurt by Parachuting Protester at Euro 2020 Game

Several spectators were treated in the hospital for injuries caused by a protester who parachuted into the stadium before France played Germany at the European Championship, UEFA said Tuesday.Debris fell on the field and main grandstand, narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps, when the parachutist struck wires for an overhead camera attached to the stadium roof.The governing body of European soccer called it a “reckless and dangerous” act and said “law authorities will take the necessary action.””This inconsiderate act … caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital,” UEFA said.The incident happened just before the start of the Euro 2020 match between the last two World Cup champions. Deschamps was shown ducking into the team dugout to avoid falling debris.France won the match, 1-0.”We as the German soccer federation condemn it of course, because it wasn’t just him, but others that he endangered and injured. It’s unacceptable from our point of view,” German team spokesman Jens Grittner said. “And the incident is being checked by the police, the authorities here in Munich and at UEFA. But of course we also condemn what happened there. It could probably have turned out much worse.”The protester’s parachute had the slogan “KICK OUT OIL!” and “Greenpeace” written on it.He glided into the stadium and seemed to lose control after connecting with the wires. He veered away from the playing area toward the main grandstand and barely cleared the heads of spectators.The parachutist managed to land on the field and Germany players Antonio Rüdiger and Robin Gosens were the first to approach him. He was led away by security stewards and given medical attention on the side of the field.UEFA and one of its top-tier tournament sponsors, Russian state energy firm Gazprom, have previously been targeted by Greenpeace protests.In 2013, a Champions League game in Basel was disrupted when Greenpeace activists abseiled from the roof of the stadium to unfurl a banner protesting Russian oil and Gazprom, which sponsored the visiting team, German club Schalke.Greenpeace later donated money to a charity supported by Basel, which was fined by UEFA for the security lapse.UEFA defended its environmental credentials in Tuesday’s statement.”UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament,” UEFA said, “and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions.”