US Bull Riding circuit returns with no-spectators event

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Washington (AFP)

In a rare live sports event during the coronavirus pandemic, Professional Bull Riders competition resumed after a 41-day break before an empty arena in suburban Oklahoma City.

The PBR began its Las Vegas Invitational at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, taking advantage of the state's relaxed stay-at-home rules allowing businesses to reopen despite the deadly virus.

With strict health and safety protocols in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 41 elite riders and some of the world's most spirited bucking bulls took part in a noted but spectator-less rodeo venue.

Taylor Toves of Stephenville, Texas, took the lead in the two-day competition with a career-best 89.5 points atop Biker Bob, who had only been ridden to the eight-second whistle eight times before in the elite Unleash the Beast series.

Brazil's top-ranked Jose Vitor Leme, back from three broken ribs suffered in February at Kansas City, rode Homegrown for 86.5 points to stand sixth.