Today, sports are a major contributor to economic and social development. The world is witnessing an unprecedented threat from the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The World Health Organisation advised all countries to maintain social distancing to prevent the transmission of disease.
After the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan in December 2019, COVID-19 has spread rapidly worldwide. The application of social and physical distancing measures lead to the terminal closure of schools and colleges, restaurants, cinemas and businesses. Travel restrictions were imposed. Even regular aspects of life, including sports and physical activity, came to a standstill.
To safeguard the health of athletes and others involved, sporting events at the international, national and regional levels had been cancelled or rescheduled. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar ever since World War II.
According to the United Nations, the global value of the sports industry is estimated at $756 billion annually. The industry employs millions of people — professional athletes, managers, coaches, medical staff, broadcasters, retailers, lawyers, etc. But aside from lost revenue and jobs, in temporarily halting the sports industry, we’ve lost so much more — a timepass, hobby and sense of community.
Think about how people rally together to support their favourite team — how all of India unites, for example, to watch the India vs. Pakistan cricket match; or how the whole world holds its breath during the incredible feats of human capability on display during the Olympics. The re-opening of sporting events without spectators safeguards the health of athletes and provides engagement, excitement and entertainment for its viewers, especially during extended quarantine.
Professional players are role models for many. If they can wear a mask, maintain social distancing and continue to lead their lives responsibly, this will encourage others to do the same. The NBA, U.S. Open, and Premier League have resumed with strict guidelines.
For example, the NBA league continues its games by moving 22 teams in the running for playoffs to the 220 acres ESPN Wide World of Sports in Disneyland, California. Players were regularly tested on arrival and self-quarantined for a few days. Every team has a cap on no more than 35-personnel.
Some were stockpiling toilet paper in the early days of the pandemic; some were baking banana bread, whilst others were becoming self-proclaimed Michelin chefs. Some had “finished” Netflix, some were completing the 10,000 steps milestone, while others were arguing on Zoom about the merits of face masks and social distancing.
Despite the fact that we are in more danger now than ever before, we are ready to eat at our favourite restaurant, meet our near and dears and travel locally. Why? Simply because our brains are experiencing fatigue from our constant state of being worried.
Across the world, many countries lifted the lockdown because the economy was drowning, resources were depleting and the virus was not containing. How long can humans be confined to the walls of their home? Therefore, schools and colleges, restaurants, cinemas, businesses, sporting events and travel, must re-open. The show must go on!