President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he won’t throw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game with the Boston Red Sox after all because he’ll be too busy addressing what he called the “China virus” — meaning COVID-19.
It was only a few days ago — Thursday — that Trump said he would throw out the ceremonial pitch at Yankee Stadium in New York City on Aug. 15.
The turnabout came a day after Yankees players Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks took a knee during the national anthem before a game at Washington’s Nationals Park in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The men said they plan to do so all season. Trump called athletes who took a knee in the past as a protest against racism and police brutality “sons of bitches.”
Trump revealed his change of heart, citing his demanding schedule, in a tweet after a weekend of golfing at his New Jersey course.
“Because of my strong focus on the China virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15,” he tweeted. “We will make it later in the season,” he added.
Trump has been harshly criticized for his racist COVID-19 misnomer “China virus” as a bid to demonize the Chinese for a disease that he has failed to contain in the U.S. He has also referred to COVID-19 as the “kung flu,” a phrase his own White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, has called “highly offensive.”
Trump’s approval rating fell to a record low 32% for how he’s handling COVID-19, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Sunday
Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci threw out the first ceremonial pitch on the opening day of Major League Baseball’s abbreviated season last Thursday at Nationals Park. The throw was so atrocious that observers joked that he was trying to flatten the curve of spiking coronavirus cases.
Trump recently blasted Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as an “alarmist” over his warnings as COVID-19 cases in the nation skyrocket. Fauci later responded, “I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist.”
As of Sunday, there were more than 4.2 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the U.S., with a death toll of nearly 147,000.