The impact of Covid-19 is being felt across the world, sparking to some degree large scale hysteria. While the global economy is definitely suffering from Covid-19, with Italy now in shutdown mode, a similar and startling impact is seen in the world of sport.
Consider the latest development in America, where the top professionals were gearing up for the Indian Wells tennis tournament. This is not a minor event on the calendar. The stage was set for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to continue their fierce dual for the number one ATP ranking.
It was therefore with a shock when it was announced that the tournament was cancelled, a mere couple of days before the first ball was scheduled to be struck. This was the first sporting event on a grand scale that was cancelled, and so the question is being asked, what is the outlook for sporting events for the rest of the year?
Already in America there are talks that the four major American sports leagues currently in season — the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer —would restrict access to team locker rooms and clubhouses to only players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice.
In Europe, Italy's Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora ordered all the Serie A games to be played behind closed doors for 30 days, until April 3. This was in an attempt to delay the spread of Covid-19 throughout the country.
The Six Nations rugby tournament is also in danger of running its course, while great uncertainty hangs over the next leg of the HSBC Sevens Series to be played in Hong Kong during April. The Chinese Grand Prix, even though such an important part of the F1 calendar with many passionate fans, has already been postponed.
Such sporting developments are huge. In the world of sport, there is a lot of prestige, pride and money involved, yet Covid-19 is wreaking havoc. Consider all the fans in Indian Wells who will be unable to see their top stars clash, or those who will be unable to witness the brilliance of Juventus.
One senses the cancellation of major sporting events is but the start of a global shutdown. Football enjoys cult-like status across Europe, yet there are growing fears and doubts that even the Premier League in England will eventually be impacted. Apart from Indian Wells, you have to wonder if the entire tennis clay court season will also not be cancelled, since all the big tournaments are scheduled to play in Europe (such as the Rome Masters).
The big question is what about the summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo from 24 July to 9 August 2020? You are talking about one of the biggest sporting events that unites the world. It was 56 years ago that Japan last organised the Olympic Games, and back then in 1964 the Games radically transformed the country. Japan will undoubtedly have hoped for similar glorious days.
According to the Olympic Games website, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will be “the most innovative ever organised, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow)”. All of this is now in danger.
So will the Games be postponed, or even cancelled? Who knows at this stage, even though such a decision would be unprecedented in peacetime. Japan has already cancelled a number of events, such as the suspension of J-League matches while the country's schools have also closed.
It is understood the Tokyo 2020 organisers have already agreed to scale back the torch relay in response to coronavirus, with the lighting of the flame due to take place in Greece next week. The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has, however, said they remain fully committed to Tokyo 2020. The world holds thus in great anticipation its breath to see what the fate of this star-studded global event is.
Whatever the outcome of the Olympic Games, the reality is that 2020 will be known as the year of the sport lock down. We are in uncharted territory with a bumpy ride ahead promised. The ramifications of such a lock down will be enormous one senses, and will be felt for many years to come. For now, keep your eyes on the news, because no sporting event is safe anymore.
Content created and supplied by: RiaanEngelbrecht (via Opera News )
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