A HOST of drastic measures will be put in place when professional sport returns. One thing is for sure –- stadiums will be empty as spectators will be barred from attending matches and competitions.
Sports bodies are going into overdrive on how to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Whatever these sporting bodies and associations decide, it will surely be fraught with risks.
The world has been having a tough time dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the void left in the sporting arena has been equally felt.
Weekends have been extremely boring.
No footie, tennis, golf, rugby or Formula One (F1). The good news for sports fans is that competitions are slowly resuming, with football in the K-League in South Korea starting last weekend and UFC mixed martial arts competition resuming as well.
Today the German Bundesliga will be blazing a trail among Europe’s top leagues, by resuming two months after it was halted by the Covid-19 outbreak. But football without fans is going to be a huge challenge for the game.
Will supporters who are banished from stadiums be able to stay away? There is
the fear that fans will gather in front of the stadiums where the matches are played, or elsewhere and disregard the social distancing rules.
The English Premier League (EPL) is set to resume next month after weeks of debate and this will be music to the ears of Liverpool fans worldwide.
The Reds are only two wins away from ending 30 years without a league title. Indeed they will be deserving winners after sweeping aside their opponents in stunning fashion from August last year until March.
There will be strict rules to follow, mass testing of players and backroom staff, plus the hope that players will be able to motivate themselves to play minus the fans.
Make no mistake, stadiums will remain empty for the foreseeable future.
People are also left wondering about the EPL and the matter of fulfilling their huge TV contracts.
Currently players, the football association, officials and fans are in disagreement over resuming the EPL.
Given the safety and procedures involved, players have come out openly to talk about their fear of kicking a ball.
League authorities are even suggesting “cultural changes” in the game where players should turn their face away after tackling and to avoid face-to-face contact, which is farcical.
During matches, if a goal is scored, players are likely to be told that they cannot high-five or hug to celebrate.
In the Bundesliga, players have been told that they can bump elbows with their teammates after scoring.
Observing social distancing guidelines will be the norm, with managers, officials, members of the media and photographers being spread out around the field.
In cricket, Australia will welcome India behind closed doors in the much-anticipated Test series at the end of the year. The game is desperate to resume as lucrative TV rights for the series will go a long way to ease a financial crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
F1 drivers are not jumping for joy as the sport plans to get going in Austria, pandemic permitting, with two races at the Red Bull Ring at the start of July.
World champion Lewis Hamilton said earlier this week that driving around F1 tracks without fans cheering would literally feel “very empty.”
International golf fans can look forward to the Ryder Cup in September.
On the local front, it remains uncertain when tournaments can be staged again though golf courses may have been given the green light to reopen.
The M-League is set to resume in September too with a reduced number of fixtures, while squash, indoor badminton and most contact sports remain a no-go.
As the governing bodies take necessary precautions and hold meetings with all stakeholders of the various sports, it is undeniable that the Covid-19 outbreak has been a game-changer.
Let us hope that games begin soon but also pray that health considerations and concerns over risks to lives are not batted aside, regardless of the huge financial losses that could follow.
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