Athletes Speak Out Against Returning: ‘People Are Still Dying’

One of the top soccer teams in Brazil came out to play its first game back carrying a banner objecting to playing the game.

“A good protocol is one that respects lives,” the banner read.

Before the game in Rio de Janeioro on Sunday, most of the Botafogo players had posted a statement on social media protesting the return of soccer. “Football is our life, but we understand the moment is not ideal to put new lives at risk,” it said.

Brazil has become a hot spot for the coronavirus, passing the one million mark in cases, second to the United States. President Jair Bolsonaro has declined to wear a mask and repeatedly played down any danger.

A second top team, Fluminense, also played Sunday despite misgivings. “Thousands of people are still dying in Brazil, and we’re forced to play football with no protection,” the team’s chairman, Mario Bittencourt, wrote before the game,

The two teams have been vocal opponents of returning to play, threatening earlier in the month to boycott the resumed season, before backing down.

Botafogo beat Cabofriense, 6-2, and Fluminense lost to Volta Redonda, 3-0.

After Liverpool clinched its inevitable but long-delayed Premier League title, Manager Jürgen Klopp shared his delight with fans in a heartfelt letter published in The Liverpool Echo.

“I have never before written a letter to a newspaper,” he said. “The actions and achievements of the players speak for themselves. All of the tributes that they have received are so deserved, and as their manager I could not be more proud.”

But amid the joy, Klopp also felt the need to admonish some Liverpool fans. A celebration on Friday night included thousands of fans, despite the urging of the authorities for them to stay home. A teenager was arrested, accused of throwing a firework and starting a small fire at the Royal Liver Building, a Liverpudlian landmark at the waterfront, possibly because it was lit up in blue, the colors of Liverpool’s rival, Everton, which has offices there.

“What I did not love — and I have to say this — was the scenes that took place at the Pier Head on Friday,” Klopp wrote. “I am a human being, and your passion is also my passion, but right now the most important thing is that we do not have these kind of public gatherings. We owe it to the most vulnerable in our community, to the health workers who have given so much and whom we have applauded and to the police and local authorities who help us as a club not to do this. Please celebrate, but celebrate in a safe way and in private settings, whereby we do not risk spreading this awful disease further in our community.”

South Korea was one of the first places to bring back baseball. As soon as Friday, it may be one of the first places to bring back fans, too.

  • Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Fans will be required to buy tickets with credit cards online, so they can be tracked, if necessary. Their body temperatures will be checked at the entrances, and stadiums will be limited to about a quarter of capacity, with fans spread throughout the stands. The league expects to ban cheering as a precaution against coronavirus spread.

Until now, the games have been played in stadiums with banners featuring pictures of fans instead of the real thing.

Soccer in South Korea is expected to follow suit beginning July 10.

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