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No play 2020

No play 2020

As the COVID-19 wreaks havoc over the globe, affecting the state of affairs across all aspects of society, sports has not been spared. Club football has been brought to a sudden halt in Italy while other European nations are assessing the prospects of completing their respective ongoing football league seasons whilst implementing safeguards to avoid any aggravation of affairs. Naturally, football games involve thousands sitting in close proximity, dangerously exposed to the threat of Coronavirus as even a single case would be enough to jeopardise the health concerns of thousands present. To this extent, footballing associations across Europe have taken the measure to conduct games without an audience as the season advances. Even the Champions Leagues fixtures — conducted by UEFA — which see clubs play across countries will be played in closed stadiums to avoid any complications. While the respective clubs will have to incur a loss due to no sale of tickets, the safety measure is highly laudable as the virus has shown up in every country across Europe. Seria A — Italian top division football — has suspended matches till April in wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in the country that has claimed 631 lives till last night with around 163 deaths occurring in a span of 24 hours. While Italy has been the worst-hit European country, safeguards are necessary to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Closed-door games across Europe would ensure player safety and season progress but the situation does not have a probable end. Till now, prevention and stabilisation have been the two primary ways to combat the COVID-19 as the world gasps for an expedited vaccine. Given how a probable vaccine is months away, the real question is how long can precautionary measures be exercised in full swing to avoid the proliferation of the virus. Temporary suspension of matches, closed-door matches, etc., are measures that may sit well in short periods. In the longer run, say two-three months, we require a comprehensive solution which will enable matches to be conducted without restraints. UEFA has initiated the process of asking governments across Europe to ensure that the EURO 2020 goes as planned. The quadrennial showpiece between European nations is set to begin from 12 June to 12 July 2020 across 12 cities in as many countries. While the decision for 12 cities was primarily done to mark the 60th anniversary of the tournament. But given the circumstances that 2020 has begun with, the changed format of conducting the tournament across 12 countries rather than a single host country serves the purpose greatly. Given WHO's expectation that does not see the Coronavirus contained by June, UEFA can re-arrange fixtures to another city should one city becomes unavailable for matches due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak might have been expansive yet it has not been given the deadly tag. Nevertheless, COVID-19 can be a potential upset for all major sporting events scheduled for the year viz., EURO 2020, Olympics, etc. IOC has serious doubts over the Tokyo Olympics that was set to begin on July 24 this year. As such, it is important for the sports fraternity to exercise caution while the governing bodies come out with requisite safeguards and measures to go ahead with the events even in the wake of the outbreak. COVID-19 has dampened prospects of a great year for sports. Hopes stay pinned to the aggregate control of the spread as research is directed towards a vaccine. The silver lining has been the high recovery to death ratio in the COVID-19 case and that should help build confidence for seeing these tournaments out the way they were planned, but of course with all precautionary measures in place.

(Image from indiatoday.in)

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