Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, every arena of life ranging from basic human needs to that of sports has been affected in various ways. Due to such a large-scale pandemic throughout the world, every arena has shifted its ways of dealing and working. For example, A lot of grocery stores have either started selling their items and products through their websites and smartphone based applications or they have started to develop their own smartphone-based applications in order to reach their customers without the customers being driven to the stores physically. This example is just an analogy to make you understand how such a large-scale pandemic might affect the ways in which people deal and work. Just like this example, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every arena of life and sports is one of them.
With the increasing use of information technology, almost every kind of sport has been televised throughout the world in order to reach its diverse audience. However, there is still an audience that likes to see the sport live at the stadium or halls but with the advent of Covid-19 pandemic spectators at the stadiums have been banned because of the Covid-19 contagious nature as it can be easily transmittable to other people in close contact, which can be easily seen in the stadiums and halls of sports. Due to this reason, such audience has been restricted to their own homes and offices in front of the television in order to watch their favorite sports. This not only affected the revenue generation capability of sports federations which used to generate a considerable amount of revenue via their tickets being sold to the spectators that want to see the sports live at the stadium or halls but it also affected the very spirit of some games, for instance like cricket, football, table tennis, and basketball, etc. One of the very spirits of these games is based on the enthusiasm and passion the spectators shows in the form of cheering for their favorite team or player, displaying their support via the charts and banners they hold in their hands or making a well-organized uproar when their favorite team is winning or about to lose which helps build the confidence and motivation in players and teams. In a nutshell, such live spectators of games are an integral part of almost every sport nowadays. Similarly, spectators are not only entertaining at the stadiums and sports halls, but these are also an important part of sports entertainment when being watched on the television screen.
During the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, major sports events have been halted or postponed. For example, the cricket league in Pakistan is like Pakistan Super League. Some of the sports events occurred without the audience at the stadiums or halls and it was only televised for the audience at homes or offices. But with the passage of time, when the Covid-19 pandemic propagated throughout the world with an increasing number of new variants or strains like alpha and omicron, the major sports federations instead of working on their own activities started working hands in hands with the health sector. For example, The well-known football federation FIFA joined hands with the World Health Organization in order to contribute in the well-being of people throughout the world. FIFA teamed up with various players from diverse backgrounds to spread the message of the World Health Organization in prominent languages via videos. This shows that the focus of sports organizations like FIFA has been shifted from their own sports activity to that of spreading the message of the World Health Organization. Indeed, it is important to help in such difficult times of pandemic throughout the world, but it has also affected the day-to-day working of such sports organizations.
According to United Nations policy brief published in the second quarter of the year 2020, the estimated worth of the sports industry is more than 756 billion US dollars annually but with the increasing cases of Covid-19 across the world, many people related to the sports industry have been affected either by losing their jobs or were being affected in such a way that it negatively impacted their own sports-related businesses, for instance, retails like tourism and transportation, etc. In a globalized world like ours, it is impossible that one event in the international arena will not affect the other activities taking place somewhere else in the world. In a similar way, a blow to the sports industry has negatively affected the people working in the other industries and sectors which are connected to the sports industry one way or the other.
Sports contribute to the young people, communities, and empowerment of women. In terms of social welfare, it also contributes to the health and education sector. Therefore, such pandemics affect not only the activity of sports itself but also affect the contribution it makes.
With the new variant of Covid-19, commonly known as Omicron. It is well evident that the sports world will continue to be affected by it its blows. Hence it is important to mend our ways in order to minimize the effect of pandemics like Covid-19 on the sports world. In order to mend our ways, firstly the authorities at every level should provide guidance in terms of safety and health that would be implemented into the sports events. Secondly, the sports federations should find new and exciting ways in order to engage the audience while trying to minimize the direct effects of Covid-19. Thirdly, the sports federations should collaboratively work with schools and civil society organizations in order to support sports at homes and community grounds. Fourthly, international organizations like United Nations should support governments of the states in terms of research, policy, and technical cooperation regarding sports. Last but not the least, the most important point is sports education. While the world’s population is locked down, it is important to raise awareness regarding sports in order to make the spirit of sports lively.