‘We have to touch each other’: Sports in the COVID-19 world

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FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2020, file photo, Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo (13) tries to get around Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic, left, and guard Terrence Ross (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Reporters from The Associated Press spoke to more than two dozen athletes from around the globe — representing seven countries and 11 sports — to get a sense of how concerned or confident they are about resuming competition. What emerged, above all, was a sense that they are going through the very same sort of calculus that much of the rest of society is: What is safe nowadays? (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

A sampling of thoughts from some of the more than two dozen athletes from 11 sports that The Associated Press spoke to about resuming competition amid the coronavirus pandemic:

“Some players like Steve Nash used to lick his hands. Some people still have that in their routine. Some people wipe the sweat off their face and put it on the ball. It’s going to be weird how they try to control it, because we have to touch each other. And then you have to worry about the family members that we may be touching.” — Bam Adebayo, NBA All-Star with the Miami Heat.

“What is the testing protocol? What are the actual tests? Who are the laboratories that are going to be testing the samples?” — Becky Sauerbrunn, defender for the U.S. women’s national soccer team and Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.

“When that thing happened with (Rudy) Gobert and the (NBA’s Utah) Jazz, the whole sports world — maybe even the whole world — was like, ‘I got to take this serious.’ So we’re test-tube babies. That’s why it’s even that much more important that we take every precaution before we even think about coming back.” — Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay Packers tight end entering his 15th NFL season.

“In Arizona, where I train, and in Texas, where I’m from, you don’t even have enough tests to test the nursing homes consistently. So how are you going to be able to test football players, football staff and fans that are coming to the game every week, multiple times a week or every day?” — Kelvin Beachum, NFL offensive lineman for three teams over eight seasons.

“In the face of global pandemic, to me, sports should not be the focus. Being used as an experiment is OK with me if it helps the global population, but if the motivation is just to get back on the field of play, I don’t think that’s right. — Kara Winger, U.S. record-holder in the javelin.

“I feel confident and secure, not afraid or anything like that. … We can control it quite well.” — Erik Sviatchenko, captain of FC Midtjylland in the Danish soccer league, where play resumed Thursday and players and coaches will be tested for COVID-19 before each game.

“Tennis is one of the worst sports suited for something like this. You don’t have the luxury of subbing in a player like in other sports. It would be a nightmare scenario if you have two guys in the final and a guy tests positive the night before or the day of. What are you supposed to do?” — Mitchell Krueger, American tennis player ranked in the top 200.

“We’re not going to sacrifice safety to try and get back to play.” — James van Riemsdyk, forward for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

“I would happily do blood, spit, anything — do (testing) every week, if necessary. — Padraig Harrington, three-time major golf champion.

“I always thought that baseball players … kind of associate with the everyday workers that want to just get back to work and do their jobs like normal. Almost like a service to others.” — Paul DeJong, shortstop for MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals.

“I suppose it would be a bit strange at first (to be tested daily). But in the end, you get used to everything and you adapt to a new routine. It would seem logical to do that, since it’s possible that one day you are completely clean but the next day you are infected.” — Damián Quintero, Spanish karate athlete.

“This is unprecedented. It’s not like we can refer back to our rule book. Everyone’s kind of making it up as they go.” — Bethanie Mattek-Sands, American tennis player with nine Grand Slam doubles titles.

“The fact that soccer can return is a small sign of normalcy. It will be fresh air for our society. It will be a distraction, even if just for a few hours.” — Óliver Torres, midfielder for Spanish soccer club Sevilla.

“I feel as if there’s a big rush to get us back. People want to make money. I understand how important it is to have events, but if it’s putting anyone at risk, then that’s ridiculous. I hope everyone is measured. I don’t see the point in going back too early.” — John Millman, Australian tennis player ranked in the top 50.

“While the PBA is American-based, I live in Australia, I travel to Asia, I travel to Europe. If I am vaccinated, anywhere in the world, I feel like I am doing my part to not spread the virus.” — Jason Belmonte, an Australian bowler who is a five-time PBA Tour player of the year.

“The world’s going to be different for a long time, so if you’re not getting nose-swabbed in the next month, you might be getting nose-swabbed at training camp next year.” — Jordan Martinook, forward for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.