Sports administrators around the world are paying attention. Immediate delays followed with promises to resume live-action soon. But as countries, one after another across the world went into lockdown, desires of seeing our favorite athletes on the track began to fade. Possibly the most significant blow came when the Tokyo Olympics were delayed to the following year without a fixed date. The dominance of the coronavirus in the sporting world was complete. Without it being clear when this crisis will end, one thing is certain: sports (including daily life) will never be the same when the pandemic abate.
To date, nearly 4 million people have been affected, the world is at a crossroads and facing a decision to start an economy while living in fear of the novel Covid-19. Sports administrators also have increasingly grappled with questions concerning the future of various events and leagues around the world. There has been some good news lately in the form of announcing the resumption of the German Bundesliga on May 16, while the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are planning to host the West Indies for a complete tour starting in July.
Playing in front of an empty stadium is an idea that has been debated by many since the start of the pandemic and appears to be the only logical way to restart play while “living with the virus”. With the risk of infection sweeping everyday life shortly, most die-hard fans will also be worried about filling up stadiums. While this is sure to be a bizarre experience for both players and TV viewers, there seems to be no way out unless the government can firmly enforce social distancing rules in major stadiums.
With no live action at the moment, there’s no doubt that today’s fans want more. But as the restriction was announced, players and teams from around the world began to find new ways to engage their fans. The sudden spike in Instagram live sessions with athletes across sport is already a sign that a growing variety of fan personal engagement is the norm. Although former fans have largely had to rely on the news to catch a glimpse of the lives of their sports stars, blocking means that almost every day one of the players or other players is talking to their followers by interacting directly with them or by asking session-and-answer questions, online challenges, etc.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, more than 150 sporting events have been postponed/canceled. While there are no options for sports associations, one of the biggest questions they face is when these events will eventually take place. A number of world championships and world events such as the Olympics have been postponed until further notice, but there will definitely be conflicts between the dates of most of these proposed events.
The schedule will also be in focus as the qualifying rounds for the above events will also be affected as there is no cut-off date in sight for Covid-19. The way sports administrators deal with this problem is one of the factors that will determine the future of sports around the world.
One day we hope that life will return to normal soon after the vaccinations and that sports fans will fill the stadiums and arenas again. Maybe in time, whatever we tremble, it will fade away and we will find ourselves side by side with strangers, high-fiving, screaming, and even hugging. It will be like 2020 is a distant memory.