WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Wednesday he would ‘strongly support’ Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta after the executive director of the players’ union said he was ready to discuss such a move after Georgia Republicans last passed legislation. week to restrict access to voting in the state.
“The people who are the victims the most are the people who are the leaders in these different sports,” Biden said in an interview with ESPN’s “SportsCenter” the day before opening day. “And that’s not fair.”
His comments came on the same day that large companies like Delta Air Lines, Georgia’s largest employer, sharply criticized the legislation in the face of growing pressure from black activists, customers and leaders. The law introduced stricter voter identification requirements for the absent ballot and limited drop boxes in predominantly black neighborhoods, and it expanded the legislature’s power over elections.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia” Mr Biden told ESPN’s Sage Steele.
The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 13 in Atlanta.
In the interview, the president also encouraged baseball fans to wear masks and adhere to social distancing protocols. While spectators are required to wear masks at every baseball stadium, policies have differed based on guidelines for each city or state. The Texas Rangers plan to open their stadium in Arlington to full capacity, allowing about 40,300 fans to fill up.
“I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr Fauci, scientists and experts, ”said Mr Biden, referring to Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist. “But I don’t think that’s responsible.”
As states rapidly expand access to coronavirus vaccines, the country is far from herd immunity, or the point where 70 to 90 percent of the population acquires resistance to infection and transmission of the virus slows. . Cases are also on the rise: in the past week, there were an average of more than 64,000 cases per day, a 17% increase from the average two weeks earlier, according to a database from the New York Times.
On Monday, Mr Biden called on governors and mayors to reinstate masked mandates. The administration has also worked to tackle vaccine reluctance in minority communities as well as among conservatives in rural areas, with an advertising campaign and relying on community leaders to promote the benefits of the vaccine against the disease. coronavirus.
Asked what he would say to athletes who are reluctant to get vaccinated, Mr Biden replied, “I am President of the United States. I got the vaccine.
“Would I take the vaccination, the vaccine, if I thought it was going to hurt me?” he added.
Dr Fauci said in an interview on UKTN ‘Face the Nation on Sunday that he expected pandemic restrictions to ease as the baseball season wore on.
But as fans flock to stadiums on Thursday, Mr Biden will not pitch the first pitch on any ball field.
“I know the president can’t wait to go to Nationals Stadium,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. “Lots of sunny days, lots of great baseball games to come this spring.”
As it turned out, those fans heard both the call to adhere to social distancing guidelines and support for a possible protest against Georgian law.
“The players are very aware” of recent voting restrictions, Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, told the Boston Globe. “As far as the All-Star Game goes, we haven’t had a conversation with the league about it. If there is an opportunity to do so, we would look forward to having this conversation. “