The Impact of Coronavirus on the Sports World

Today we're going to talk about the current situation with coronavirus in the world of sports. The outbreak has caused the suspension of nearly every important sports competition around the world.
The Impact of Coronavirus on the Sports World

Last update: 16 March, 2020

In the last few weeks, countries all over the world have suspended events and activities involving large crowds to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. This is a respiratory illness that’s crossed the borders of countries and continents. Sports events, of course, are no exception. 

In the beginning, many people believed that the virus, which originated in China, would not have much effect on western society. Or, if it did spread, it wouldn’t be too serious in other parts of the world. However, as everyone now knows, the virus has become a serious problem in other countries and spread much more quickly than anyone imagined.

The current situation is so serious that on March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemicWhile the notice emphasized that there’s a lot that countries can do to control the outbreak, people everywhere are understandably concerned about what the near future holds.

Sporting events affected by the coronavirus

Because most sports involve large crowds of people and lots of physical contact, sports associations decided to take extreme measures to fight the spread of this virus. Next, we’ll give an overview of how coronavirus has affected the most popular sports.

Prominent soccer leagues

Serie A was one of the first prominent soccer leagues to act in response to the spread of COVID-19. It makes sense since Italy is one of the countries with the highest number of cases. It’s also the hardest-hit in Europe. Italy now has nearly 25,000 confirmed cases and 1,800 deaths. 

In the face of this increasingly alarming situation, the Serie A league decided on March 9th to suspend all their matches. Days before, the teams were playing their games without any spectators. As of today, Italian soccer is postponed until April 4th.

This decision, while drastic, may have been too late. Juventus has already confirmed that one of their players, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Shortly after that, Sampdoria also announced that one of their team members, Manolo Gabbiadini, had tested positive.

A professional soccer team.

Something similar happened to Spain’s La Liga. At first, the league decided that the games would be closed to the public. Shortly after, however, they decided to cancel all large sporting events for two weeks. The Real Madrid basketball team has also reported that their player Trey Thompkins has the virus and the league staff is all in preventative quarantine.

With France and Germany also playing games to empty stadiums, the UK’s Premier League is only one sticking to its normal calendar. However, there are soccer players from Arsenal and Leicester City already in quarantine, so decisions to postpone or cancel might be made in the coming days.

Other sports that suspended games

In the last week, some other major sports associations have also taken drastic measures to try and contain the spread of the virus. The Association of Tennis Professionals, or ATP, suspended the men’s professional tennis tour for six weeks. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has only postponed two women’s tournaments so far.

The NBA responded to the over 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by suspending their season indefinitely. So far, Gudy Robert and Donavan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz have tested positive for the virus.

Formula 1, the MotoGP, the MLS, Six Nations Rugy, and the world indoor track and field championships are other sporting events postponed due to coronavirus.

The coronavirus situation in South America

So far, the pandemic appears to be slower in affecting South America. As of now, only Argentina has had a COVID-19 death. In fact, in most South American countries daily life and large events continue as normal.

That being said, an announcement on March 11th suggests that preventative measures will be taken. While some of the Copa Libertadores matches went on as scheduled (some closed to the public), CONMEBOL  decided to postpone the rest of the tournament. They also postponed the elimination round scheduled for the end of March.

Athletes with the coronavirus

By now we know that coronavirus can affect anyone. Athletes are particularly susceptible because they travel often and have physical contact with a lot of people in different environments.

A professional basketball stadium.

On a positive note, none of the athletes with coronavirus on this list are in critical condition. In general, they’re undergoing treatment and have no major complications.

In addition to the athletes we’ve already named, two soccer players from Hannover 96 of Germany, Timo Hubers and James Horn, tested positive for coronavirus.

Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of the Greek club Olympiakos also has the virus. His recent contact with a significant number of soccer players – including those from Arsenal – has a lot of teams worried. Columbian cyclist Fernando Gavira also contracted the disease.

Conclusions: the effect of coronavirus on sports

Health professionals and international organizations such as the WHO is calling on all countries to take extreme preventative measures. Avoiding large gatherings of people is clearly one of the first steps to preventing the further spread of the virus.

A lot of questions come up in this unprecedented situation. One obvious one would be is it worth playing games without any spectators? Is the health of the players second to economic concerns?

And lastly, thinking about the future, how long will this pandemic affect people’s normal lives? We don’t have answers to any of these questions yet, which is why major events such as the Olympic Games, the soccer Eurocopa, and the Copa Americana are all still up in the air.

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