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Trump now says he won't throw first pitch at Yankees game

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sunday, July 26, 2020. Trump is returning to Washington after spending the weekend at his golf club in nearby Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sunday, July 26, 2020. Trump is returning to Washington after spending the weekend at his golf club in nearby Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump won’t throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium next month after all.

In a tweet Sunday, Trump blamed the turn of events on his “strong focus” on the coronavirus, vaccines and the economy. “We will make it later in the season!” he promised.

Just three days ago, Trump revealed during a White House briefing that he'd throw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. Trump made the announcement on Major League Baseball's opening day Thursday as former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera watched from the briefing room.

After months of playing down its seriousness, Trump recently began starting to show the public that he is taking the virus seriously. He has resumed holding televised briefings about virus developments and last week canceled Republican convention events that had been set for late August in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is among several states where the virus is raging.

But on Saturday, the White House tweeted a photo of Trump and former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre after they played golf at Trump’s private club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

With baseball teams playing in largely empty stadiums, Trump wouldn't have had to contend with crowd reaction to his appearance at the Bronx stadium. Some of Trump's previous appearances at major sporting events have drawn mixed responses.

But another issue could have been tricky for Trump, who has been very critical of athletes taking a knee during the national anthem before games.

The Yankees and the Washington Nationals took a knee before the season's opening game last Thursday in Washington, then stood for the national anthem. New York also had two players kneel for the national anthem Saturday, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton. Both have said they will continue to kneel during the anthem throughout the season.

During an interview last Thursday night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said he would take part in the prestigious tradition of throwing out the first pitch for the Yankees, but said he hoped players would stand during the national anthem.

“It’s great that baseball is back, and other sports are back. I hope everyone’s standing; I hope they’re not going to be kneeling when the flag is raised. I don’t like to see that,” Trump said.

Some New York City politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., had complained loudly about Trump throwing the Yankees' first pitch.

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Associated Press writer Will Lester contributed to this report.