The stadium in Ismaila, Egypt, one of the venues of the AFCON2019. The 2020 African Nations Championship had been postponed due to the pandemic and the local leagues in most of the African countries have been suspended./Photo: © Maximilian Lütgens

Corona Crisis and Sports in 2020

Our world right now is not as normal as we are used to. Words like self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing are now in our everyday vocabulary. Sporting activities have not been left out. Major sporting events that garner the world’s attention have either been cancelled or postponed.

The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics which were supposed to hold this year in Tokyo have been postponed to 2021. Knowing that the Olympics, the world’s biggest sporting event held every four years, the postement shows how crucial these times are and how conscious we all should be about our health.

In the world of tennis, so far it is only the Australian Open that has taken place this year. The French Open has been postponed to September 2020, Wimbledon has been cancelled and the US Open is likely going to change as well. Similarly, other major tennis events totally over 120 would likely be cancelled or postponed as the tennis calendar can accommodate.

Football being another major sport that gathers attention has seen some postponements. The world footballing body FIFA announced that the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held in Panama and Costa Rica in August, and the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held in India in November, would be postponed and rescheduled. In Africa, the football body CAF announced that the 2020 African Nations Championship had been postponed due to the pandemic and the local leagues in most of the countries have been suspended.

The brunt of the pandemic is also felt in the well followed European league football and competitions. As UEFA postponed the European Championships 2020, and all fixtures for the Champions League, Europa League and Youth League were also suspended. Europe’s top leagues like the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the English Premier League all suspended footballing activities of all their football divisions and most are deliberating on how to complete the season that was suspended midway. 

Basketball has not been left out in the effect of the pandemic, with most of the events and competitions suspended or postponed. Particularly, the National Basketball Association (NBA) deferred its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver specified that the suspension will most likely be at least 30 days. The CEO of the basketball European league (Euroleague) Jordi Bertomeu, suspended all games in March for a month and some European countries annulled outrightly their respective first division leagues, naming the teams in the top of the standings as champions. The Euroleague suspended the Eurocup, FIBA also suspended the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup.

For racing lovers, Formula 1 intended to start their season for the year this summer if the situation of the pandemic does ease up. However, the body announced a rescheduling and revising of most of the racing calendar and very likely, the Formula 1 would not be going on their usual summer break. Which also means that the season would extend beyond its usual November end of the season.

The Corona pandemic no doubt has affected and influenced most and major sporting events and competitions of 2020. But in time, things would gradually get back to normal though with caution at first. Correspondingly, our world as we know it would take a while to get back to normal, but this time too shall pass.

Yemi Babalola

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