Effect of the Pandemic on Live Sports

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By – Eashani Sharma

This pandemic has ruined every sports fanatic’s dream to enjoy themselves during this voluntary self isolation. All their hopes and dreams were shattered as the world slowly found itself diving into a never ending night(mare). Here is a list of the most awaited events that were cancelled for the year or indefinitely postponed in 2020­ Tokyo 2020 Olympics (2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics), Wimbledon, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, 2021 Women’s World Cup, Formula One and NASCAR races, NBA, Euroleague, Hockey Pro league (China vs. Belgium), Asian Champions League (soccer), World Team Championships (table tennis) in Busan, French Open (tennis,postponed until September), Beach Volleyball World Cup and many more. Several countries and sports governing bodies have come up with restrictions and sets of protocols.

Importance of sports

Major sporting events are not only a good source of increased economic output but it also increases employment levels and boosts the tourism sector. It is a source of entertainment and recreation for many, but while doing this, it also infuses greater moral values, refreshes the mind and brings positive changes in a lot of lives. It unites people and brings them together as a community. It highlights the importance of health, sportsmanship, discipline and honour. More than ever, it creates a platform for creating awareness­ be it social injustice (BLM), specific health concerns (diabetes or cancer) or natural disasters. As influencers and role models, athletes have a large number of followers and thus their actions garner greater efforts from their fans. Sports has a way of ensuring the development of both the athletes and the audience at the same time.

How things have changed

“Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.”

This has been the mantra to deal with the heavy amount of changes that the coronavirus outbreak has left us with. Live sports have done the same. Sports Live on TV has improvised with the lack of audience and have started to use fake background noise compensating for the crowd’s cheer. Lack of spectators and the passion they bring along has impacted the player’s morale, but nothing beats the enthusiasm shown by a real crowd and the hollers and the pride in their eyes. However, such an accumulation of fans could result in an explosion of cases. We are already familiar with the damage that something like this could do.

Many sports such as golf and NASCAR have come out unscathed from the prevailing situations because of the possibility of entertaining physical distancing, but the burden falls on contact sports where maintaining personal space is out of the equation. Several regulations had to be placed after careful scrutiny to minimise the risk of exposure and contamination as much as possible. The governing bodies of sports have come up with severe protocols for the athletes and supporting staff.

Some common guidelines

1. Frequent check ups

2. Sanitization of equipment and common surfaces

3. Creating bio bubbles

4. Travelling with utmost caution (in PPE suits, in chartered planes after proper testing and isolation)
5. Maintaining distance and wearing a mask at all times except while practicing.

The Grand Slam

With Wimbledon cancelled, the grand slam was in for a ride in 2020. The US Open (August 31st to September 13th,2020) was held with no audience. The Roland Garros or The French Open (September 21 to October 11, 2020) has raised many concerns with the changed time slots, different weather conditions, changing of official balls from Babolat to Wilson has raised opposition from several players over chances of bodily harm. Also The French Open will be the first event to host an audience since the beginning of the pandemic. The little respite tennis fans have had was that The Australian Open had ended smoothly way before coronavirus had become an alarming problem.

Indian Premier League

IPL or Indian Premier League is one of the most popular cricket leagues in the world. The 13th edition of IPL T20 started from September 19, 2020 in UAE. With one of the largest fan bases, this tournament is the biggest sporting event of India. BCCI had a field day organising the event, as the new regulations dictated chartered planes were to be used to fly the players out, testing will be done regularly on all the players, and the whole staff. The IPL started with a bang and it has had the fans glued to their screens with as much enthusiasm as these dark times allow. You can stream the sports live on Disney + Hotstar with your subscription. Disney + Hotstar VIP has tied up with Jio and Airtel, to make it easier for people to subscribe. Technology is substituting the physical need to be present in matches to enjoy oneself. Streaming this has risen hope amongst many of us and soon the fake background crowd will be replaced by a real crowd again.

Gone are the days of normalcy as the whole concept of what is normal is changing. Risk has become a daily part of our lives, and slowly we will have to learn how to live with it. But is this the new normal? At least we can stream our favourite sports events from the comfort of our homes and end the raging monotony of endless zoom calls, be it online classes or your dear manager. The stadiums are empty, but our involvement and support will not suffer until the fans are present.

Must Read: 2020: a boon or a bane 

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