Donald Trump who wants a rapid return to professional sport, the governor of Florida who authorizes it considering that it is an “essential service” of his state: part of the political class presses them, but the league bosses remain cautious in the face with coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the shortage of sports in the United States was addressed by the president. “Our sports have to start again,” he said, saying “tired of watching reruns of 14-year-old baseball games.”
Trump, who believes that a resumption of sports competitions would contribute to the country’s economic recovery, had already expressed this wish to the bosses of professional leagues and other federations during a conference call on April 4.
Sports “want to come back, they have to come back,” then Trump told reporters. “Sports were not designed for (this situation), the whole concept of our nation was not designed for that. They have to come back. We want them to come back quickly, very quickly, ”he insisted.
For the past month, competitions have been shutdown in North America, as in the rest of the world, due to the spread of COVID-19.
The NBA (basketball) was the first to suspend its season until further notice, March 11, after the French pivot of Utah Rudy Gobert had tested positive. The ice hockey (NHL), football (MLS) and golf circuit (PGA Tour) leagues quickly followed suit.
The Major League Baseball (MLB) has postponed indefinitely the start of its season which was to start on March 26, as the IndyCar which continues to reshape its calendar, while the Professional League of American football (NFL ) cross his fingers to be able to start his season as planned in September.
Every day, speculation is rife about the scenarios imagined by these bodies to resume their activities and the timing to achieve it.
The NBA and the NHL, which have one month left in the regular season, are wondering whether to finish it or go straight to the playoffs. The MLB would consider starting its championship by bringing together its 30 teams in Arizona or Florida for matches behind closed doors. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the most important promoter of mixed martial arts (MMA), has imagined combat dress on a private island.
But for now, these leaders have the coronavirus as their justice of the peace.
The coronavirus will decide
Referring to their meeting with Donald Trump, NBA and NHL commissioners, Adam Silver and Gary Bettman, remained on their line and reiterated that the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the epidemic made it impossible to formulate firm plans and even less their dates of execution.
“From our perspective, we don’t have a plan, even if we have a lot of ideas,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday. “The ideas that will materialize will depend on the restrictive directives and the public health situation.”
All these leaders also agree on the fact that they will probably have to resume in camera, where Donald Trump wanted “people to sit next to each other” in the halls and stadiums.
However, this depends on the green light from local authorities and not all of them are on the same wavelength as the American president.
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday that resumption of sport with spectators this summer in his state was “unlikely,” arguing that the prospect of mass rallies was “minimal until we achieve collective immunity or we develop a vaccine. ”
In contrast, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s loyal ally, issued a decree Friday in which professional sports are among the “essential services” to his state.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the main organizer of wrestling events, owned by another friend of the President, Vince McMahon, did not wait to seize the opportunity, airing fights behind closed doors on Monday and direct, from its production site in Winter Park, north of Orlando.