As the scourge of coronavirus continues to bare its fangs on humanity, the impacts keep expanding with fierce brute to many areas of life. From life itself to economy to general freedom, the virus has been stumping ferociously, leaving debilitating marks on the go. One area it is turning attention to now is athleticism.
The world of sports is gradually coming in terms with the reality of limited freedom emanating from COVID-19, and it may have a crippling effect.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has become a doubt out of fear that it may aid the spread of the virus in Japan. There has been a suggestion for cancellation or postponement of the sports event that is billed to take place from July 24 to August 9 2020.
Test events of the Olympics games have been called off at the outbreak of coronavirus in Japan. Vice president of the IOC Dick Pound has said that the ‘right to cancel’ part of the games agreement could be activated if COVID-19 persists beyond May, though it would be an expensive decision to make.
Protesters in Japan are already calling for the Olympic Games to be called off to avoid a possible spread of coronavirus. Or as an alternative, the games should be held without fans being in attendance.
Playing the games without an audience has been seen as a possible way out of suspending the Olympics. British Cycling chief Stephen Park said it is a better choice than moving it to another country.
“Right now, I’m really confident it will go ahead. You would struggle to find a day when the Olympics didn’t take part for any reason.
“So, will it mean that they might be different? Possibly. Look at the World Cup skiing in two weeks’ time in Cortina, they are doing it on a closed circuit with no fans, and that’s going to an area that doesn’t currently have any infections,” he said.
Beyond the Olympics, an array of sporting events has been obstructed by the outbreak. In Europe, the Six Nations game scheduled to take place between Ireland and Italy has been called off.
Italy has been badly hit by the virus, recording over 1,835 cases and over 55 deaths so far. The development is stirring concern in UEFA, the Europe’s football governing body since the games are going to be held in cities across Europe. The opening game between Italy and Turkey is slated for June 12 in Rome, but with the rate the disease is spreading, the organizers are having a rethink. A congress has been held by UEFA in Amsterdam during the week to determine the way forward.
There is ongoing consideration to play the Champions League match between Barcelona and Napoli without the fans. The English Premier League has also banned players and match officials from shaking hands during games. As more cases continue to emerge in the UK, the Football Association has been in touch with medical experts and has made the decision as a precautionary measure.
The statement from the Premier League said: “The Premier League fair-play handshake will not take place between players and match officials from this weekend until further notice based on medical advice.
“Coronavirus is spread via droplets from nose and mouth and can be transmitted onto the hands and passed on via handshake… on entering the field of play, the two teams will continue to line up, accompanied by the Premier League music, then players from the home team will walk past their opposition without shaking their hands.”
The Coppa Italia match between Inter Milan and Juventus has been canceled. The game was to be played on Thursday but has been called off indefinitely amid fears of the outbreak. The Serie A has had a norm of games cancellation since the coronavirus hit Italy, and this would be the twelfth game to be cancelled.
In China, all domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association. Asian Champions League between Guagzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April. The kick-off of Korean K-League season has also been postponed and the four teams in the AFC are going to play behind closed doors. Japan also suspended all domestic fixtures of the J-League until mid-March.
Other sports events slated to take place in Asia and Europe have either been postponed or impacted by the outbreak. From car racing, Tennis, Rugby to MotoGP, Cycling, Baseball, Golf tournaments and other championships, athletic activities have been pushed to unprecedented halt.