Being a ‘Sport’ Post Covid-19

It is quite difficult to account for and comprehend the extent to which the global pandemic, Covid-19, has affected various nations, families, organizations, industries, and the world as such. The field of sports is no different, even though we have never really spared a thought for it (unless of course you work in that particular industry or are a huge sports enthusiast or fan). 

A classic example is the 2021 World Olympics. The Summer Olympics (Summer Olympics 2020) that was initially scheduled in July and August in 2020 in Japan was pushed to the mid of 2021. And finally, it happened in late July, though the event name has not been changed from Tokyo 2020, and is the second time Japan is hosting the Olympic event. Following this a few weeks later was the Summer Paralympics. 

Similarly, yet another much-awaited event by people across the world is the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 that had to be reorganized citing the pandemic. The Euro Championships 2020 faced a similar fate, having been rescheduled exactly a year later, from June 2020 to June 2021. Not just these, various other significant football matches like the LaLiga, Premier League, and more faced similar challenges, disappointing the fans and teams. 

Concerning Tennis, two of its most coveted championships- the Wimbledon and the French open were postponed. And, in terms of cricket, prominent matches and tournaments like the ICC T20 World Cup and IPL were postponed, all thanks to the Covid 19. 

Having wreaked considerable havoc in the world sporting calendar of 2020, postponing some of the world’s much-awaited events, sports enthusiasts are finally breathing a sigh of relief. Most of these have been rescheduled, thereby ensuring that 2021 was a treat for all sports fans. 

But what is even more interesting and evident is that, with the advent of the pandemic and its consequential lockdowns, there have emerged several new sporting activities across the world, especially in the US.  

Some may have heard, but the majority of us are unaware of the game Pickleball. Considered a combination of ping-pong, tennis, and badminton, Pickleball gained immense popularity (comparatively) during the pandemic with more people embracing the sport. Even people across the world are being made aware of this outdoor game, which was first invented in the US in the mid-60s, as a way to remain active and fit even during the lockdown. Now popular among the youth as well, Pickleball was largely associated with the elderly, as a game to keep them dynamic and engaged. Today there are more than 35 countries that are part of the International Pickleball Foundation. 

On a personal front, games that are not team-based or that maintain a safe (social) distance are highly preferred during this pandemic. Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Frisbee, Volleyball, Wiffleball,  and Tetherball have gained popularity. 

Not only are new sports the effect of the drastic changes that have happened ever since the detection of the virus, but it has also changed the way people watch sports. With no live audience permitted to watch the match, watching matches have now been shifted from stadiums and arenas to screens at home. What’s even more interesting to see is the rise in e-sports, with countless video game versions coming out.  

With every aspect of businesses adapting and being resilient, the sports industry is no different, with most international sports and entertainment companies striving to offer fans an interactive experience.  Setting up an interactive environment, fans are virtually connected and hardly made to feel that they are missing out on the live action. 

The pandemic causing significant disruption in the sports ecosystem has left organizers, teams, and other related bodies in complete darkness, especially with the intermittent lockdowns and uncertain reschedulings. Trying to mitigate heavy losses and thrive, the sports industry unquestionably is one of the worst-hit ones, with challenges thrown at them continuously from all ends. Especially, with the world being slow to recover from the various waves of Covid in different parts of the world, there hardly seems to be any light at the end of the tunnel for most.

Irrespective of the innumerable challenges and shortcomings, major global sports events from the World Snooker Championship to Women’s Rugby to Olympics to UEFA and World Cup, were finally scheduled in 2021, it was a year to watch out in sports. 

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