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How is sport surviving in the ‘new normal’?

Like nearly all human activities, the sporting world has struggled to get to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there have been numerous clever ways by which these sporting events can take place. From hosting closed-doors sporting encounters to implementing regular testing, it has shown that sports can take place amidst even the most troubling circumstances.

While it could be a long time before sports can be played in a way similar to what was enjoyed just a single year ago, there is hope that the current conditions shouldn’t affect our enjoyment of top-class sporting events. So what has been done to ensure that these sporting events can go ahead?

When it comes to the basic sporting encounters, there are various grades that determine how safe it is for the competitors to take part. As the virus is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets, it has become clear that the sports that don’t involve close human contact are the safest.

No sporting event in India in near future, have to live with new normal of  sports behind closed doors: Rijiju - The Hindu

This is why horse racing was one of the first sports to get back into action after a widespread halt on sporting events in spring 2020. In the UK, horse racing was the first sport to be given the green light after the Covid-19 shutdown. While no fans were allowed to attend races such as the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, racing enthusiasts could still visit some popular betting resources like the one featured here and put down their bets and even enjoy some live streaming entertainment.

However, for those sports that involve closer human contact, things proved to be much more difficult. This is why low risk sports that allow for social distancing and no sharing of equipment haven’t been too affected by the virus. As a result, we have seen the return of top-flight competition for sports like golf, skiing and running.

Things have been harder to police for medium risk sports such as football, basketball and ice hockey, but the introduction of mass testing has made it easier for sporting organisations to keep the virus in check. Some sports like cricket and basketball have also seen the introduction of the ‘bio bubble’. This keeps all of the athletes in close quarters with no exposure to members of the general public so as to ensure that they stay safe.

However, high risk sports such as rugby, American football and wrestling that involve close and sustained contact with others have had a harder time in adapting to the new normal. In fact sports like rugby have aimed to reset the laws regarding things like scrums to make the transmission of the virus much harder.

Away from the sporting rules, there have been other efforts made to control the behaviour of athletes in safer ways. All Formula 1 racing events will see drivers and the pit team wearing face masks to stop the transmission of the virus, plus there have been attempts to check post-goal celebrations such as hugging in football matches.

However, it is the absence of fans from sporting encounters that remains the most telling aspect of the impact that Covid-19 has had. The majority of top-class sporting events are still being held behind closed doors so as to maintain social distancing guidelines. This has meant that many sporting organisations are facing big questions about how they can survive financially without matchday revenues.

But there have been a few recent examples of efforts being made to gradually reintroduce fans to our sporting stadiums. The German Bundesliga has allowed some of the football stadiums to operate at 20% capacity. There will also be a ban on standing and alcohol consumption at these football matches.

The NFL in the US also has seen a patchwork approach to allowing fans back into the sporting arenas that are in line with each state’s social distancing laws. Plus some countries like Belarus and Nicaragua have even taken the fairly unwise move to completely ignore the pandemic and carry on with their sporting calendars as normal. All of this shows that there are plenty of different ways to carry on with sports in even the hardest of circumstances.

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