New Delhi: Will the fans rush back? Will training abroad be as hassle-free as it used to be? What about contact sports where social distancing can’t really be practiced? Well these are the questions that are haunting the sports world. Will sports ever be the same again after being scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Here’s what some prominent sportspersons of India has to say.
Sachin Tendulkar (Former Indian cricketer)
No doubt the world is going through the biggest challenge in our lifetime. I think players will be wary for some time when it comes to using saliva (to shine the ball). It will play on their minds. High fives and hugging your teammates will be avoided for some time. They will be conscious to begin with and may maintain social distancing.
Abhinav Bindra (Shooter, India’s only individual Olympic gold-medallist)
Sports unite people and brings joy to thousands of participants and viewers across the world. Yes aspects of heightened safety protocols will be integrated for the foreseeable future. However, the attraction of sport will not diminish. The post-COVID-19 world could be a blessing in disguise for India. There may not be so much foreign exposure. This may allow India to build proper sporting infrastructure.
Sardar Singh: (Former India hockey player)
From the point of view of Olympic preparations, the plus point is India will get more time. The negative however, the team will have to revisit plans. Once sports resume, social distancing is going to be the new norm. It remains to be seen how it is implemented in contact sports like boxing, wrestling. Even in hockey and close tackles and body contact are common.
Bajrang Punia (Wrestler, World Championship silver medallist)
Wrestling is a contact sport. When wrestling will resume, there is no way you can avoid physical contact. But I don’t think there would be any hesitation. I don’t see any change happening. The only thing that will happen is that the sport will become more intense. All athletes will return after a long time. We are not used to such long breaks. So when tournaments resume, the competition will be intense.
MC Mary Kom (Boxer, six-time world champion, Olympic bronze medallist)
We are hoping and praying desperately for things to get back to normal. But can they ever? Of course not. This virus is an enemy that no one even understands completely. Sports will change. Mine is a contact sport and I am personally worried how we are going to deal with it. I believe training itself will become very individualistic. Only when a vaccine is developed things will be back to normal.
Bhaichung Bhutia (Former India footballer)
In today’s age television and digital platforms have become important parts of our lives. I don’t think the lack of spectators in stadiums will have much of a bearing. I see the TV and digital platforms gaining from this outbreak. Sports events will gradually come back to what they were before. They can be held behind closed doors for now. Till the time a vaccine is out, I don’t think they can have people inside stadium. It will be risky.
Mahesh Bhupathi (Tennis, multiple-time doubles Grand Slam titles winner)
Sport won’t change. Things will be normal once COVID-19 goes away. However, the vaccine has to arrive quickly.
Koneru Humpy (World rapid chess champion and India No 1)
Outdoor games with spectators are not safe. It won’t be easy to organise event for the next one year. In my opinion we need to show some patience.
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