Coronavirus Continues To Thwart Attempts At Ramping Up Pro Sports Activities

By Bruce Haring

The saying “Man makes plans, God laughs” has been around for a long time, even popping up in a truncated form on a Public Enemy album.

That statement may apply to the sports world this week, as it struggles to get back on its feet after a long layoff caused by the pandemic. This week, more obstacles toward that revival emerged, as everything from baseball to tennis to golf to wrestling grappled with coronavirus issues.

While infected personnel are the main concern, there are other problems. Today, the New York Yankees and New York Mets issued a statement saying they will work with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to impose a 14-day quarantine on travelers from virus hotspots like Florida, where both teams normally train. They announced last week that they were shifting spring training to New York City, where cases have slowed.

Today, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addressed safety concerns at tour events, following news that five golfers were withdrawing from the Travelers Championship in the last two days because of coronavirus-related issues.

“While we’ve been thorough in building and implementing a program that mitigates as much risk as possible, we knew it would be impossible to eliminate all risk, as evidenced by the three positive tests this week,” Monahan said. “We need to use these developments as a stark reminder for everyone involved as we continue to learn from an operational standpoint.

Monahan said safety measure would be adjusted to minimize further risk. Out of the five who pulled out of the Travelers, only Cameron Champ tested positive for COVID-19. However, Brooks Kopeka and Graeme McDowell took themselves out after their caddies received positive test results.

Meanwhile, NFL owners will meet Thursday via conference call to discuss plans for training camp and the coming season.

Wrestling is also having a moment with coronavirus. Reports indicate multiple people involved in the WWE, including the wrestlers themselves, have tested positive. That could affect TV production for the popular Fox WWE Friday Night SmackDown and other programming.

”WWE will continue COVID-19 testing of its talent, production crew and employees in advance of TV productions for the foreseeable future,” said a WWE statement. They did not address the reports directly or say whether upcoming matches will be affected.

The latest developments follows the bombshell news on Tuesday that top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus after he played in the Adria Tour, a charity exhibition series held in Serbia and Croatia, which he shepherded. They are not alone — so far half a dozen other people involved in the Adria Tour — including players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, and Viktor Troicki and his pregnant wife — have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons,” Djokovic said in a posting on social media Tuesday. “We were wrong and it was too soon.”