From the Viewsroom

Sport runs into Covid paranoia

B Baskar | Updated on May 27, 2020

Sporting activity in empty stadiums will be the ‘new normal’

Last weekend marked the second consecutive week since top-flight football resumed in Germany, the only country so far in Europe where sport has resumed.

Various proposals over the last two months have been mooted to kick off sporting activity, which had come to a grinding halt during the lockdown. When playing matches (football, cricket and others) in empty stadiums — to prevent fans from congregating and contracting the dreaded virus — was first mooted it was met with scorn, especially by some former cricketers. But now, this idea is slowly gaining currency.

Australia, which is desperate to host India later this year, is willing to hold all matches in a single, ‘bio-secure’ venue — for which Adelaide has been proposed. Pakistan has already agreed to tour England later this summer with matches being played in ‘bio-secure’ grounds, closed to fans.

The BCCI has tellingly not cancelled this year’s IPL, but only postponed it with the hope that it can magically find a ‘window’ sometime later this year to conduct it, even in a truncated form.

Some people may feel that talking about resuming sport when over three lakh people have lost their lives worldwide is not only irrelevant, but also downright cruel. But the lockdown also cannot last forever, and there is a growing, albeit weary, realisation that the coronavirus is here to stay. So resuming sporting activity may signal a return to ‘normality’.

Despite what the ‘romantics’ say, sport is a multi-billion dollar business, which apart from the sporting superstars also supports a vast ecosystem comprising coaches, administrators, ground staff, physiotherapists and doctors, equipment manufacturers, broadcasters, and last but not the least sports journalists, all of whom have been singed by the corona heat.

The post-Covid world is going to radically different from the one that preceded it, with a bewildering array of social distancing and safety norms. In this ‘dystopian’ world, sports fans may have to get used to the ‘new normal’ of matches being played in empty stadiums, at least for some time.

The writer is Senior Deputy Editor with BusinessLine

Published on May 27, 2020

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