Prefontaine Classic
Getty Images

With Anthony Fauci’s eyes on closed-door return, which Olympic sports can be played?

Leave a comment

Anthony Fauci, the now-ubiquitous director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has outlined a path for sports to return in the United States behind closed doors.

Fauci, speaking with Good Luck America’s Peter Hamby, pointed toward a path for having public sports events this year.

“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled … and have them tested every week.”

Such a plan might work for Major League Baseball, in which talk of a plan to put all 30 teams in Arizona has met with skepticism, or Germany’s Bundesliga, in which soccer teams have returned to training with the prospect starting play in May even after Chancellor Angela Merkel extended a ban on public gatherings through Aug. 31.

Olympic sports, though, might have a more difficult path back to action.

Even without fans, athletes are often packed into close quarters. A track and field meet like the Prefontaine Classic, which is still scheduled to take place June 6-7 in Eugene, Ore., would have more 100 athletes cycling through the stadium in addition to coaches and officials. Those athletes would also be traveling in and out of Oregon, not confined to a hotel and a ballpark.

The athletes’ youth and fitness may help them stave off serious issues if infected, but Fauci also warned that the risk of illness for young people from COVID-19 — while less than the risk to older people — is greater than initially believed.

“What we’re disturbingly starting to see now, which is really troublesome is that the initial cases from China made it seem that young people and healthy people get a mild illness it goes away, no problem,” Fauci said. “Now we’re starting to see that people who are younger are getting ill, and some of them are getting seriously ill and even dying from this.”

That discovery means athletes themselves, not just older or unhealthier fans, could be at risk of illness.

Fauci also talked with NBC’s “Today Show” Wednesday morning to talk about the possibility of states relaxing restrictions that were imposed with the onset of the pandemic:

Most Olympic sports events in the United States through June have already been canceled or postponed:

April 15-19: Equestrian, World Cup show jumping and dressage finals, Las Vegas canceled

April 16-26: Ice hockey, world under-18 men’s championships canceled 

April 20: Track and field, Boston Marathon postponed to Sept. 14

April 28-May 3: Water polo, World League intercontinental tournaments, Indianapolis postponed, no new date set, may be relocated

April 29-May 3: Road cycling, Tour of the Gila, New Mexico canceled

May 14-17: Golf, PGA Championship, San Francisco postponed to Aug. 6-9

May 26-31: BMX racing, world championships, Houston  postponed, no new date set

June 4-7: Golf, U.S. Women’s Open, Houston postponed to Dec. 10-13

June 6-7: Track and field, Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Ore. still set to run as scheduled

June 12-14: Artistic swimming, World Series, Rochester, N.Y. canceled

June 12-14: Sport climbing, World Cup, Salt Lake City postponed, no new date set

June 18-21: Golf, U.S. Open, Mamoroneck, N.Y. postponed to Sept. 17-20

June 25-28: Golf, Women’s PGA Championship still set to run as scheduled

Aug. 6-15: Track and field, world championships, Eugene, Ore. postponed to July 2021 due to postponement of the 2020 Olympics

Aug. 31-Sept. 13: Tennis, U.S. Open still set to run as scheduled

The AVP beach volleyball tour has canceled two events and postponed two more, with the first event of the year now set for June 19-21.

In golf, the PGA Tour still has a May 21-24 tournament on the calendar. The next LPGA Tour event that has not been postponed or canceled is set for June 11-14.

In tennis, the ATP Tour‘s next U.S. event is the Hall of Fame Open, set for July 13-19 in Newport, R.I. The WTA Tour isn’t due in the United States until August.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

View this post on Instagram

Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

A post shared by conseslus kipruto Athlete🥇🥇🥈🥈 (@consesluskip) on