When the Gods of Sport Stop Smiling

Aside from my occasional fix of AFL, I am not really that interested in sport, although I wish I had bothered to watch the Indian test team win against the odds in the final batting session of the fourth test today.

Reading on my news feed stories about how many of the tennis players and their entourages, in town for the Australian Open, are now not just in quarantine, but lockdown due to covid tests, does not really perturb me.

After all, tennis is not a sport which I particularly enjoy watching, and whilst the Australian Open is the most significant tennis tournament in both the Indo-Pacific region and the Southern Hemisphere, I do not think, during this time of Plague, that a disastrous or sub-standard tournament, or even a cancellation, is going to make all that much difference to the long term standing of that tournament in future years.

Nor do I have too much sympathy for those players and their companions, stuck in their rooms. I assume they have access to Netflix? Or perhaps they could catch up on their reading? When I travel, I usually carry a bag of books to keep me amused on the plane or the train (there is little countryside to admire in Italy when the train is hurtling through a long mountain tunnel at 240kmh) or when resting in the hotel (I do like spending time resting in my hotel with the door locked and my feet up).

But we have to wonder what sort of sporting events we are going to have between now and the end of 2022, given that I believe that the covid plague is going to keep us off balance for at least that long.

The Australian F1 GP has already been postponed, and I am going to wonder as to whether that event is ever going to happen in Melbourne again. There are many oil rich countries in time zones friendlier to the US and European TV audiences who would love to bid for it, and who would be more attractive to the masters of Formula One.

And then we have the 2020 Olympics. They were deferred until this July, which is only 6 months away. With 96 million cases of covid worldwide and over 2 million deaths just at this moment, I am skeptical about the Olympics going ahead. As Tom Clancy proposed in his late 1990s techno thriller Rainbow Six, an Olympics can be the perfect super spreader event for a pandemic.

But perhaps I am being naive. The Olympics are not about a live crowd anymore, they are there for the TV audience. Of course, if they go ahead in front of empty stadia, the Japanese government will be rather peeved – I would assume billions have gone into building state of the art facilities that are not even going to be sat in once before the tumbleweeds start ghosting through.

Much as I only think the summer Olympics count, we also have the Winter Olympics to contend with too, next year. They are scheduled for February 2022 in Beijing, one of the most popular cities in the world right now, with the most popular political leaders (well, 74 million more people voted for Trump than they did for Xi).

Will the Winter Olympics go ahead, and if so, will anyone bother to attend? I personally think that this is a good time for the rest of the world to do a Moscow 1980 or a Los Angeles 1984 style boycott, in order to acknowledge the laudable human rights record of the PRC government and the biosecurity lapses which are likely to have caused the covid to escape from a Wuhan laboratory 14 months ago.

But that is not the only event at risk. The 2022 Commonwealth Games (which I wish were still called the Empire Games) are due to be held in Birmingham in July next year. With the UK currently ‘enjoying’ a wave of especially contagious covid, does anyone really think that the Commonwealth Games can go ahead in 18 months’ time?

And then, to round out 2022, the Soccer World Cup is due to be played in Qatar in November-December. If I remember correctly, there were a lot of irregularities regarding Qatar’s campaign to be awarded the tournament by FIFA. And more recently there was that unfortunate incident where misogynist clowns (not to call them airport police) arranged for female Australian passengers to be removed from their flights at Qatar’s airport and subjected to illegal mass gynaecological examinations. I already dislike soccer enough that I rejoice when the Socceroos get eliminated, but to have a tournament in Qatar?

Of course, the bright side to a tournament in Qatar is that it is well on the way to achieving herd immunity against covid. In a population of 2.8 Million, there are 147,500 covid cases (ie one in every 19 people so far, which compares slightly better than the one in every 14 people in the USA). Given the World Cup is in 22 1/2 months, there is plenty of time for everyone in Qatar to get and get over the covid by November 2022. If so, I can then still cheer on England (yes I am funny that way) as they attempt to replicate the spirit of ’66.

As I said at the start of this entry, I am not really interested in sport. But if you are, you are likely to have some lean lean lean times in front of you in the next two years.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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