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Sport is "great healer": Houston looks into World Table Tennis Championships amid pandemic******
HOUSTON, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- A lack of a large fan base locally. Challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All can't stop the Houston organizers from dreaming big about the World Table Tennis Championships.。
"Our goals now are to put on magnificent world championships in spite of a pandemic," Janice Burke, the CEO of Houston Sports Authority, said of the upcoming World Table Tennis Championships in the largest city in Texas.。
The Championships, running from November 23 to 29, marks the first time that the sport's prestigious event has been staged in the Americas.。
"We are pleasantly surprised ticket sales went better than we expected...Right now we are expecting at least 23,000 to 27,000 people to attend," Burke told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.。
As for concerns of the coronavirus pandemic, Burke said there would be no mandatory requirements for mask-wearing and vaccination, though organizers "strongly encourage" all the attendees to take such precaution measures.。
The George R. Brown Convention Center, the venue of the Championships in downtown Houston, has designed a corridor separating athletes from audiences and installed a special system to clear viruses in the air, according to Burke.。
She said athletes from up to 90 countries and regions across the world are coming to Houston, where thousands of local volunteers have already signed up to be part of the event.。
The Chinese community, representing "a large part in Houston", is passionate about the sport and "has really helped us", she added.。
"Our community has been very excited...everyone has embraced this event," Burke observed, "I think it goes to the international nature of our city...we have so many different emigrants and different communities that come together and live together."
The city's sports chief also noted that the upcoming Championships coincides with the 50th anniversary of the legendary Sino-U.S. Ping-Pong Diplomacy and thus becomes "a special moment of remembrance."
"People should not forget that the modern era of the close friendship between China and the United States began with Ping-Pong Diplomacy, and the younger generation needs to remember this important and wonderful history," she said, "I think it's very important to learn from the past."
Fifty years ago, the U.S. table tennis team was invited by its Chinese counterpart to visit China at the conclusion of the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan. The U.S. players landed in Beijing on April 10, 1971, becoming the first U.S. group to visit China since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.。
The Chinese team paid a return visit the following year. The mutual visits broke the ice in two decades of estranged China-U.S. relations and eventually led to the normalization of bilateral ties.。
"Throughout history, sports can be that great healer," Burke said when looking ahead to the Championships, citing former South African President Nelson Mandela's thoughts on how sports can unite an entire nation and heal hurts between different cultures.。
"I believe that sports can unite and can create really strong friendships that you would never expect. And so I'm really pleased that we can be an extension of that here in Houston," she concluded. Enditem。
Italian film icon Monica Vitti dies aged 90******
This file photo taken on May 7, 1966 shows Italian actress Monica Vitti arriving at the Carlton hotel during the 19th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes. Vitti, an icon best known for her starring roles in films by Michelangelo Antonioni, has died aged 90, the Italian culture ministry announced on January 2.
Italian actress Monica Vitti, an icon best known for her starring roles in films by Michelangelo Antonioni, has died aged 90, the culture ministry said on Wednesday.
"Goodbye Monica Vitti, goodbye queen of Italian cinema. Today is a truly sad day, we have lost a great artist and a great Italian," Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement.
Vitti shot to international fame with the 1960 drama "L'Avventura" ("The Adventure") in which she plays a tormented woman who dallies with the lover of her missing friend.
Born in Rome on November 3, 1931, Vitti – whose real name was Maria Luisa Ceciarelli – discovered her passion for the theater during World War Two, when she entertained her family with puppets to relieve boredom.
"As the bombs fell, when we had to take refuge in the shelters, my little brother and I would improvise little plays to entertain those around us," she would recount years later.
After graduating from Rome's National Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1953, she began her career in the theater, where she stood out for her comic talent.
She was spotted by Antonioni, with whom she quickly developed an artistic and sentimental relationship.
"I was lucky enough to start my career with a man of great talent", but who was also "spiritual, full of life and enthusiasm", Vitti said in an interview on Italian television in 1982.
Former Italian culture minister Walter Veltroni broke the news of Vitti's death with a tweet. He said he had been asked to do so by Roberto Russo, Vitti's husband, and expressed his "pain, affection and regret".
The actress, who had been suffering from a degenerative disease, had withdrawn from public life in recent years.
Runner up Dortmund overpower Stuttgart 2******
BERLIN, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Borussia Dortmund reduce the arrears to Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich after moving 2-1 past resilient Stuttgart by courtesy on Marco Reus' late decider in the 12th round on Saturday.。
The "BVB" started highly motivated in front of home crowd and came to early chances as Reus rattled the woodwork in the 7th minute before unmarked Donyell Malen headed over the target from inside the box six minutes later.。
As the match progressed Stuttgart aligned its defence and was able to keep Dortmund's offence at bay.。
Stuttgart eventually reaped the best chance of the first half when Tanguy Coulibaly's dangerous effort, following Orel Mangala's header into the box, forced Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel into action with 38 minutes gone.。
After the restart, Stuttgart took over, but it still was the hosts, who broke the deadlock after Malen's deflected 18-meter hammer surprised Stuttgart goalkeeper Florian Muller in the 56th minute.。
Dortmund's advantage didn't last long though as Philipp Forster dispossessed Manuel Akanji before sending Atakan Karazor, whose through ball allowed Roberto Massimo to restore parity at the hour mark.。
The hosts responded well as Muller had to tip Akanji's long-range shot to the bar in the 67th minute before Reus and Malen missed the target from promising positions in the closing stages.。
Dortmund eventually shocked Stuttgart with the 2-1 winner in the dying minutes of the game as Reus finished off a counterattack following a Stuttgart corner to secure all three points on home soil.。
With the win, second placed Borussia Dortmund sit just one-point away from front runners Bayern Munich meanwhile Stuttgart slump onto the 16th spot, which is a relegation play-off spot.。
Elsewhere, three first half-goals paved the way for Borussia Monchengladbach's 4-0 victory over last placed and newly promoted Greuther Furth 4-0.。
Wolfsburg scored twice in quick succession to secure a two-all draw at bottom side Arminia Bielefeld.。
Amine Adil's early opener ensured Bayer Leverkusen a narrow 1-0 victory over Bochum while Hoffenheim shocked Leipzig 2-0. Union Berlin defeated Hertha Berlin 2-0. Enditem。