Professional Bull Riders made a noteworthy return to live action over the weekend following a 41-day break as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The United States bull-riding circuit took advantage of Oklahoma’s relaxed stay-at-home rules to stage the “Las Vegas Invitational” at the Lazy E Arena and Ranch in Guthrie.
With strict health and safety protocols in place due to ongoing health crisis, 41 riders competed in an empty arena without any fans. The two-day event was broadcast on CBS Sports Network and streaming service RidePass.
The event is likely to have been closely observed by other professional sports organizations in North America, who are also looking to return to some form of action soon.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has scheduled three fight cards for next month, while golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are planning an upcoming charity event featuring National Football League quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association will allow its teams to open their practice facilities for players from May 1, provided that their local governments do not have orders prohibiting such arrangements.
According to The Oklohaman, all PBR participants had to be medically cleared to enter the Lazy E Arena grounds. This included professional riders, contractors, medical staff, TV crews, and PBR staff, which represented around 140 people in total.
They were not allowed to leave until the event concluded. This included sleeping in Recreational Vehicles (RVs) on site. During the weekend, working groups of less than 10 people were created and they did not have close contact with the other groups.
It will become clearer later in the week exactly how successful the event went, specifically whether anyone subsequently shows any signs of sickness. However, PBR’s return could prove a significant test event for the return to live sports on a far larger scale in North America in the coming weeks and months.
PBR chief executive Sean Gleason said in a video posted on Twitter: “We’ve had plenty of space to be safe and responsible as we get our PBR family back to work, and hopefully our process will pave the way for other sports.”
PBR plans to stage further Unleash the Beast events at the Lazy E Arena on May 9-10 and May 16-17.