The Olympics has been postponed. The marquee event will not take place in 2020. Coronavirus has ravaged the entire world and the Olympics is going to suffer and so will the athletes. Preparations for the big event start years in advance and every participant aims to peak at the time of the Olympics. What kind of a jolt this delay will give to the sporting world is not known, but such an unprecedented delay will have its ripple effects spread out for far longer than anticipated. The event will now be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021. How different the world will be at that time is a thing to speculate about.
The last time a global event was cancelled was way back in 1942, when the FIFA World Cup, which was slated to take place in Germany, was halted because of the Second World War. Brazil offered to host the tournament but most countries were in one way or another involved in the war and backed out. But let us not forget that it was a World War that prevented the Football World Cup from happening. Here we are running for cover from a deadly disease. How times have changed!
The Wimbledon too has been deferred and will be held almost a year later—from 28 June to 11 July 2021. Novak Djokovic will be holding on to that title for another year. The French Open too has been postponed and the US Open is also finding itself in the same conundrum, with the United States becoming the world’s epicentre of the disease. In fact, the venues slated for the US Open are on the verge of being converted into temporary hospitals.
But it is still unclear as to why the BCCI has not come out clean with a cancellation announcement of the Indian Premier League. The last that was heard from the board was that they were keeping their options open. Is the board expecting the IPL to be salvaged somehow? More importantly, what kind of a message is the board sending to the fans and the country alike? Understandably, the IPL is a big money tournament and a lot is at stake in terms of cash for the league, but at a time of such grave uncertainty, it was the responsibility of the cricket board to hold health ahead of financial prudence. We will all miss the IPL 2020, but no player would want to be a part of this league under the current turmoil that prevails.
But the world has to deal with the menace of Covid-19 and it is unclear when this embargo on normal life will lift. The break or the long hiatus will give athletes and sports bodies an opportunity to get their priorities in order and health for most people will take precedence during this phase. The spirit of the sporting fraternity should not be dampened during this period but rather it is an opportunity for everyone caught in the storm to analyse and assess their perspective and come out stronger and sportier on the other side.

Vineet Malhotra is Consulting Editor and prime time anchor with NewsX.

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