Every major sports league was dealt a heavy hand trying to manage post-COVID. And while protocol had been handled well across all sports at the outset, reports of Omicron, the latest variant, coincides with a host of outbreaks in leagues worldwide.
The Premier League has seen a host of COVID cases come to light this season, as last Monday had 42 positive COVID cases; the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Six games were postponed in that timespan, including Brentford, who had already accounted for over a dozen cases among players and staff. Brentford Boss Thomas Frank pushed for more postponement through the holidays, citing the time off as a way to “break the chain at every club.”
Shareholders met earlier today to discuss a solution.
Despite cases made to cancel games, the league has since decided to maintain the schedule as planned “where safely possible”, though only 59 percent of players are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest vaccination rates of any league.
In Tennis, Rafael Nadal has tested positive for COVID-19 following the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. The former Grand Slam winner arrived in Spain in preparation for the Australian Open. The event already drew much skepticism from players and fans alike, and it may be dealt a heavy blow without one of the field’s finest. The open is already without its reigning champion, Novak Djokovic, who’s speculated to not participate due to the vaccination restrictions for the contest.
That’s just overseas.
North American sports have all had to cancel or issue widespread COVID protocols for a host of teams.
The NFL accrued 100 positive cases this past week, leading to backups and free agents to get a shot in the league. Ditto for the NBA, where the teams had to postpone games as well. The pickups in both sports have led to players being activated and entering COVID protocol within the same week. Kyrie Irving, infamously deactivated from basketball activities with the Brooklyn Nets, was activated this past week due to the list of players out with the virus.
The announcement of the All-Star guard’s reactivation was very polarizing within the basketball community. However, within hours of the release, it was announced that he too entered COVID protocol.
In Canada, the Ontario provincial government is implementing a 50% capacity limit for sporting events starting on Saturday. This spells doom for many teams, including the Toronto Raptors, NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators.
Due to the “spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases in the region”, the Montreal Canadiens played the Philadelphia Flyers without fans after a request from Quebec public health officials to stop attendance.
With an estimated 730,000 cases happening across the globe, the future of sporting events is unknown. Between the NBA, College Football, Ashes Tests, and the upcoming Australian Open, the atmosphere of the events might hold a candle to the issue at hand, the postponement of these events, entirely.