In January 2020, we learned of terrible news in China concerning an unknown virus. It was eventually deemed a global pandemic, which ultimately affected all countries and confined millions of people to their homes. The coronavirus has definitely changed our way of life. But, in particular, how did it affect the activities of athletes?
The future of the Olympics
While the careers of many athletes continue to be threatened, each new wave of the coronavirus and all its variants further puts these careers in peril. The Olympic Games and all other international competitions were postponed, while training sessions were cancelled. For professionals, the opportunity to practice and improve their skills has been limited, thereby reducing the incentive to practice the sport.
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The long-awaited Olympic Games, which was already postponed last year due to the pandemic, are due to kick off in Tokyo on July 23. However, Japanese locals want the Games to be rescheduled or cancelled altogether as Tokyo continues to battle the coronavirus. Nevertheless, organizers insist on holding the event, albeit with serious restrictions such as banning international volunteers and spectators, strict adherence to the “bubble” format, and a dozen of other prohibitions.
One of the bold moves organizers made is to completely ban spectators during the Games. This move has the obvious disadvantage of influencing the emotional state of the competitors. It is difficult for athletes to perform without live support from fans. The artificial “emotions” of cardboard spectators are nothing compared to the mixed emotions expressed by live spectators.
Any Olympic sport relies on adrenaline rush and excitement. Spectators motivate athletes with their emotions. With every victory, you see the stands filled with cheers, emotions going through the roof!
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Not the first time
Interestingly, previous Olympic Games hosted by Tokyo have either been postponed or canceled. In 1940, Tokyo was unable to host the Games due to the Sino-Japanese War. As a result, the right to host the Games was transferred to Helsinki. Ultimately, the Games were completely canceled due to World War II. When Tokyo was finally going to host the Olympiad in 1964, they also had to postpone the Games to fall due to the abnormal heat experienced in summer.
As we continue to experience the numerous waves of the coronavirus, how will the world sports movement develop further? Perhaps the digital world will become commonplace for large-scale sports events. Perhaps we will no longer be able to enjoy the Olympic Games live.
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There is no denying that esports is becoming more popular and that international video game competitions are becoming common. With this in mind, the direction of “sport” can further be developed and spread. To date, the prize pools of individual computer game competitions are larger than the prize pools of individual world championships from traditional sports. For instance, the prize pool for The International 10, the latest world championships for DOTA 2, exceeded $40 million collected in 137 days. Valve, the organizers of the event, managed to collect a record amount for The International in September. In 2019, they were already able to reach a prize pool of US$34.3 million within a span of 110 days.
Esports is the future
On the other hand, the prize money for the FINA World Aquatics Championships was only less than US$6 million.
Be that as it may, we still hope that quarantine restrictions brought about by the pandemic may soon be lifted, life will return to normal, and sports competitions will be held as before.
The Sports4world team would like to wish all the athletes good health, strength, and patience. Of course, even while most people are in favor of hosting the Olympic Games in a standard format, precautions and restrictions are necessary. Nevertheless, athletes need to be able to compete as this is an integral part of the Olympic Games.
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Edited by Aldo Tong