The Jakarta Post
The world now is far from what Louis Armstrong describes in his evergreen song, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus that causes the disease has claimed thousands of lives around the world, hammered economies and inflicted huge disruption on people’s lives.
The sporting world is no exception as it joins the list of casualties in the war against the virus, with the lucrative European soccer leagues and United States NBA basketball competition suspended, a number of Formula One motor races canceled or delayed, to name only a few.
“Health protection is the top priority for everyone,” Italy’s National Olympic Committee (CONI) said in statement, a sentiment shared by many sports federations and sponsors.
Gatherings are not encouraged, many have even been banned, to stop the spread of the virus.
Badminton, a sport Indonesia has excelled in, is not immune to the impacts of the global health crisis. After bagging the mixed doubles team title through Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, Indonesian shuttlers decided to skip the remaining tournaments that serve as qualifying rounds ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
At home, a number of regular competitions have been suspended, including the Liga 1 soccer league and the Indonesian Basketball League, while the ONE Esports Dota 2 Jakarta Invitational has been postponed.
One big question remains, though. Will the Tokyo Olympics go ahead as planned or be delayed until next year as suggested by US President Donald Trump?
Trump said he “just can’t see having no people there”, referring to the Tokyo Games.
In response, Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto insisted that the show must go on. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), too, is not considering cancelation or postponement of the world’s biggest multisports event, which is scheduled to begin on July 24.
It seems Japan is still going ahead with its plan to host the games as the Olympic torch has already been lit and some runners have begun to relay the torch heading to the host city.
Japan has allocated 1.35 trillion yen (US$12.51 billion) to build the Olympic Stadium and 30 billion yen toward the cost of the 2020 Paralympics. The Olympics had been forecast to attract more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorship.
It is understandable that Japan would not want to waste years of preparation, which started when Tokyo bid to host the 2020 Olympics in 2011. It will be a prestigious achievement for Tokyo, which is hosting an Olympic Games for the second time.
Even if the Olympics schedule remains unchanged as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the problem will not end. Those competing in the Olympics will have experienced difficulties in preparing for their showing as a result of the virus spread. The athletes will be unable to reach their peak performance during the games and the quality of the event will be at stake.
With or without the Olympics, however, we will continue to endure this boring world as we miss sports action on our TV screens in the coming few weeks or months.
But hopefully many more will be spared from this virus along with this comparatively small sacrifice.