Covid-19 Vs the World of Sports

The coronavirus is impacting all aspects of society across the globe. With cancellations, delays and cutbacks happening every day and more changes on the horizon, the global sports industry is significantly affected. Whether you’re an athlete, fan, or aspiring sports student and future industry leader, you will probably be wondering what COVID-19 means for the future of sports.

The coronavirus has had a widespread effect on sporting events with sports bodies all over the world postponing or shuttering events completely. From the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the European Championships to the cancellation of Wimbledon for the first time since World War II, the impact of COVID-19 is huge. Aside from disappointed athletes and fans, the monetary ramifications are considerable. Consider, for example, that media networks have already paid billions of dollars for live sports that may or may not happen.

While the prospect of sports starting up again is exciting, it’s impossible to predict when that might be -- or what things will look like when it finally happens. 

It’s true that in the grand scheme of things with lives at stake, sports may not seem like the most pressing issue, sports order our lives in many ways -- from the element of exhilaration that comes from watching your team compete to the structure and order imposed by seasons and schedules. “Sport makes sense, most of the time”. There are precedents and organization and timelines, the thrill and communal spirit of crowded sporting events is much missed at the moment. 

Options for ending seasons early are already being considered (while in certain countries they have indeed ended), ranging from special play-off games to the use of current points scores or league positions as the basis for identifying winners and losers, and those who are or aren’t promoted.

Sporting officials and leaders are in a difficult position. Faced with a global pandemic and major public health issue, they have to take action. At the same time, broadcasters and commercial partners will be watching carefully to ensure they still get what they paid for. Individual players as well as teams will also strive to ensure they do not suffer the adverse consequences of decisions over which they have little control.