Trump Plans to Attend Army-Navy Game in New York Amid Pandemic

President Donald Trump plans to attend the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday along with a limited crowd due to restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pro football stadiums in Philadelphia and Baltimore typically host the historic match-up to accomodate tens of thousands of fans. But this year, the teams will face off at the smaller Michie Stadium on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Trump is nonetheless forging ahead with plans to watch the game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen in-person even as he faces criticism for failing to address the plight of Americans facing hardships due to the pandemic as cases and hospitalizations spike. More than 14.7 million people in the U.S. have been infected and about 282,000 have died, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The president has also come under fire for refusing to abide by public-health measures, like mask-wearing and avoiding large crowds, designed to stop the spread. He has continued with large rallies where attendees generally do not wear masks or socially distance, even after he was infected and hospitalized with Covid-19 in September.

The virus has hit college campuses hard and has forced the postponement or cancellation of more than 100 football games, according to CBS Sports. Navy postponed three games last month due to coronavirus cases and Army was forced to delay its November game against the Air Force Academy due to increased infections around the Air Force campus.

Army and Navy athletic officials announced in October they would move the 121st annual game from Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field because crowd-size limits would prevent Navy’s entire Brigade of Midshipmen and Army’s Corps of Cadets to attend. In a joint statement, the service academies said “it is unlikely” fans will be allowed to watch the game in person.

“Hosting the Army-Navy game on West Point will be the safest way for the cadets and midshipmen to cheer their teams to victory,” Lieutenant General Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, said in the statement.

Saturday will mark Trump’s final appearance at the Army-Navy game as president, though plans to attend could still change. He attended each of the past two years and also went as president-elect in 2016. The game, which airs on CBS, typically draws around 8 million viewers.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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