'Essential' WWE resumes live broadcasts from Florida
World Wrestling Entertainment, a US media group whose wrestlers body-slam their opponents into oblivion, has resumed live broadcasting of bouts after gaining "essential services" status in Florida.
With sports and entertainment events shut down worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, WWE wasted no time after Florida's emergency management director confirmed it provided an essential service along with hospitals, firefighters, grocery providers and mental health care workers.
A memo sent Friday, based on an executive order from governor Ron DeSantis, confirms essential services now include "employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience - including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production - only if the location is closed to the general public."
On Monday, WWE aired a live episode of its weekly series "Raw" from its Orlando production facility.
"As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance," the company said in a statement, adding that it would take "additional precautions" to guard the health and safety of performers and staff.
WWE's move could conceivably open the door for other sports in Florida.
Even before the order, Major League Baseball was reportedly mulling a plan to hold regular-season games at training facilities in Florida and Arizona in a bid to get the season delayed by the pandemic underway.
Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts organization that has been trying in vain to find a venue to stage a fight amid virus lockdowns, owns event space in Florida.
UFC boss Dana White was thwarted in his bid to hold UFC 249 without fans on April 18 at an undisclosed location, reportedly a Native American tribal reservation in California.
The move met with resistance from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and White said that he finally postponed the event at the request of broadcasters ESPN.