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Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

President Trump is appointing a number of sports celebrities, including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, to his "Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition," Axios has learned.

Why this matters: Trump signed an executive order in February to rebrand the council so that it's more focused on encouraging kids to take up sports — a theme Ivanka Trump highlighted at the Winter Olympics.

  • President Obama called his version of the group the "Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition." Under the Obama administration, the council focused more on nutrition and Michelle Obama's quest to make school lunches healthier.

What's new: According to a source with direct knowledge, alongside Belichick, Trump will also appoint golfer Natalie Gulbis, three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, retired Major League Baseball pitcher Mariano Rivera, retired NFL running back Herschel Walker, and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

  • This group includes some old Trump friends and reinforces the truism that one never really leaves Trump's orbit. In the early 1980s, when Trump tried — and failed — to crush the NFL through his purchase of USFL team the New Jersey Generals, his star recruit was Herschel Walker.
  • On Wednesday the New York Times reported that chief of staff John Kelly marveled to donors last week that Trump spent "a long time" on the phone with Belichick.

Behind the scenes: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will host the first meeting of the council, the source told me. Ivanka Trump, Azar, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have all been involved in discussions on the council. The source added:

  • "Studies have shown that children who are involved in sports have greater self-discipline, higher self-esteem, and are better at working with others..."
  • The administration is concerned that "youth sports participation has declined over the last decade, particularly among young girls and children from economically distressed communities."
  • Earlier this week, Trump signed a proclamation designating May 2018 as "National Physical Fitness and Sports Month."
  • "In the coming months, the President will welcome the council members to the White House, and host a sports field day on the South Lawn..."

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.