Despite global moves to curb the spread of COVID-19 with the implementation of several preventive measures like travel bans, social distancing and much more, some high-risk institutions, like the sports sector, have decided to take the opposite direction.
On Tuesday 17th of March, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe said that the G-7 leaders have agreed to support a “complete” Olympics against nearly 70 percent opinion poll that favours the postponement of the games in Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are doing everything in our power to prepare (for the Games), and we want to aim for a complete event as proof that mankind can defeat the new coronavirus,” said Abe during a meeting with the G7, which was held via videoconference for the first time ever.
According to Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, a “complete” event referred to holding the Games this summer as scheduled, with spectators present. Also, the Olympic torch relay will start as planned in the country, later in the month, Tokyo’s Organising Committee CEO, Toshiro Muto said. Nevertheless, parts of it will be closed to the public and some events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
Still in the world of sports, football veteran John Mikel Obi, who played for a Turkish league known as Trabzonspor, has confirmed the termination of his contract with the club. This came as a result of a minor feud he had with the club’s management over a post he shared on his Instagram page which reflects the nonchalant attitude of the Turkish football league to the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Obi, President of Trabzonspor FC, Ahmet Ali Agaoglu, ordered him to take down his comments on Instagram criticising the Turkish football authorities for not suspending the season despite the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. He, however, refused and stated that he had a right to his own opinion.
In an interview, Obi states, “I want to help in any way that I can to defeat this virus. For us to be out there playing; I don’t think we are helping the global situation. I don’t feel it is right for us to play football. …UEFA has postponed football. How come they are still playing in Turkey? It’s not right at all.”
This is completely ridiculous at a time when all countries are taking drastic measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Moreover, the plan to hold the “grand start” of the relay, scheduled to begin in Fukushima prefecture on March 26, without spectators would not only lack the spirit that comes with the cheering of a crowd, but it will also be both boring and tiring for the athletes.
There is no guarantee that athletes would be safeguarded from contracting COVID-19. They sweat heavily, are quick to touch their faces and jubilate with hugs and other forms of contact. Clearly, this period is not a safe time for athletes to be engaged in any sporting activities.
If these sports institutions refuse to postpone their activities, they would be working contrary to global efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus while further endangering the lives of sportsmen and women, and their nations at large.