By Victor Mather
Like many cities, Paris has lost a little bit of its magic during the coronavirus lockdown, with cafes, theaters and shops closed.
And now you can’t even run there, at least for much of the day. All outdoor sports, including running, have been banned from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Officials hope that by pushing people to exercise in the less busy hours they will cut down on social interaction.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Franceinfo that she did not want to ban jogging, only limit it to “times when there will be fewer people on the street.” She continued, “During the day, you have people who do their shopping — and that’s normal, because you have to eat — and you have people who go to work.”
Even cycling has been halted in France, but professionals are asking for a waiver, saying that their livelihoods are at stake.
“Even if, for some, a cyclist is not an important profession to make society work, the fact remains that we are employees,” said Pascal Chanteur, president of the National Union of Professional Cyclists. “The Minister of Labor said that we had to go back to work if we could not do telework. And we could not resume? We would like to be able to exercise our profession like other employees.”
France has been hit particularly hard by the virus. After 8,000 deaths, its health minister said on Tuesday that it was “still in a worsening phase.”
Welcome to … Sports Island
The National Rugby League in Australia managed to get through just two games before the virus shut the sport down. But the league is considering an innovative way to get the season rolling again.
It plans to pack up the entire league — teams, players and officials — and ship it to a resort, perhaps on Moreton Island, off the coast of Brisbane. There, games could be played safely distanced from the rest of the country.
“We can sleep about 1,500 people,” David James, manager of Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton, told Fox Sports. “We can isolate the place. We can lock it down.”
The plan echoes a scheme by the Big3, the American three-on-three basketball league, to play its games in a quarantined area. That league planned to go a step further, having the players live in a house together for a “Big Brother”-style reality show.
And speaking of islands, Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said his organization’s fight cards might soon be held on one, too.
“I’m a day or two away from securing a private island,” he told TMZ. “We’re getting the infrastructure put in now.” He said fights held there would primarily be for international fighters who could not get into the United States.
There would be no fans, and steps would be taken to assure the health of fighters, referees and production people, he said.
White said he was still not ready to reveal the location for U.F.C. 249, scheduled for April 18.
Golf, Darts and Table Tennis
There is, in fact, a golf tournament underway in the United States.
The perhaps aptly named Outlaw Tour, a minor league circuit, is holding an event this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., where golf courses are open after being deemed essential businesses.
The mostly American, mostly unknown field includes Alex Cejka, a German who won on the PGA Tour in 2015.
Players are keeping a distance from one another, and no one touches the flags or rakes.
In Europe, some darts players have found an innovative way to compete at home. In the Icons of Darts Live League, players, including the former world champion Raymond van Barneveld, throw at boards in their houses and film it with a webcam.
That event is available to watch, streamed on gambling sites. Which brings us to the reason that many of these sports are still pushing on: a hunger for betting action.
Besides darts and outlaw golf, the betting site Ladbrokes on Tuesday was happy to take money on table tennis from Russia, Ukraine and Czech Republic (stay on your side of the table, please), and something called the Kung volleyball 3×3 amateur men’s event, where Malaysia and Indonesia seemed to be the favorites.
And soccer from Tajikistan. Hold up, the Tajikistan soccer league is in action? This could be interesting. No, never mind. Ladbrokes is actually taking action on the Tajikistan under 21 league. It’s come to this.
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