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The COVID-19 effect on sports and what we need to be mindful of

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What can move the BCCI? Not the politicians, not the court, not the sports ministry and not even the government. But a widespread global virus can and it resulted in the world's richest board having to take precautionary measures and push the start of its coveted baby, the Indian Premier League, by a couple of weeks. 

The start of the Indian Premier League was moved to April 15th, with the BCCI having no choice but to conduct this season a lot later given the concerns raised by the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus or the COVID-19. It is one of the many tournaments or leagues or series affected by the COVID-19 in the last week. 

What is affected in cricket?

BCCI had earlier decided to conduct the season behind closed doors with no crowd in the stands and that might still happen when the league gets underway on April 15. Only a few days back, the Pakistan Super League games were played in closed stadiums while the Trans-Tasmanian series between Australia and New Zealand also followed suit. The Momentum One-Day Cup in South Africa is also run this way. 

On the other hand, England postponed its Sri Lankan Test series and will head back home. The Road Safety Series involving legends of the game was also cancelled after initially deciding to conduct the same behind closed doors. The Ranji Trophy final on day five was conducted in an empty Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Read | Coronavirus outbreak: India vs South Africa ODI series called off

It's no better in other sports!

Other sports around the globe are also in crisis. The novel coronavirus was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and everything from the Serie A in Italy to the La Liga in Spain, the UEFA Champions League, the NBA and the ATP Tour have been affected by the COVID-19 (or the novel coronavirus), a respiratory illness.

The National Hockey League (NHL) was also suspended for the 2019-20 season. The Canadian Hockey League also suspended three of its regional leagues. The Major League Soccer (MLS) suspended games for 30 days while Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed its opening day by two weeks. The FIFA World Cup qualifiers postponed the South American qualifiers. The PGA (Golf tournament) in Florida was also cancelled.

The Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was also cancelled after a McLaren team member tested positive for the virus. The English Premier League (EPL) has also postponed the next two weekend games. Everything stands suspended until April 4, subject to changes.

The wider picture

The entire sporting scene had a different look on Friday as safety became the keyword. The cricketing scenario saw a thrilling Ranji final played in an empty stadium while at an international level, there was silent action from the southern hemisphere.

Australia and New Zealand played the first international game behind closed doors at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The players chose not to shake hands and the boundaries flying to the stands had outfielders jumping the gallery to fetch the ball back.

Even as uncertainty hangs over the head of several tournaments and series, one has to give it to the sporting community for standing united at a time when countries across the globe are facing a major threat. The relaxed attitude of the players during the Australia - New Zealand game is perhaps a takeaway for not just the fans and sportspersons but people all over the world.

Kane Williamson fist-bumped the on-field umpire with his leg and the umpire obliged by sticking back his right leg towards Williamson's amidst joyful faces from the players. That Kane Richardson, the Aussie pacer, underwent a COVID-19 test on Friday didn't seem to bother the players as well. Too casual, some might say. But if prevention is better than the cure and appropriate measures are taken to prevent, is there a need to fear? Perhaps not. Prevention is indeed better than cure but it's never great to fear unnecessarily.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Saeed Khan

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