- Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, several sectors across the world have suffered adverse effects.
- The pandemic forced several governments across the globe to introduce some measures to curb its spread.
- To safeguard the health of athletes and others involved, most major sporting events at international, regional and national levels were cancelled or postponed in 2020.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, several sectors across the world have suffered adverse effects.
Having spread to many parts of the world within a short period of time, the pandemic forced several governments across the globe to introduce some measures to curb its spread.
The measures include social and physical distancing, lockdowns of businesses, schools and introduction of dusk to dawn curfew.
The measures, which have now become commonplace to curtail the spread of the disease, have also disrupted many regular aspects of life, including sport and physical activity.
The impact of COVID-19 on sporting events and the implications for social development
Although governments have been exercising a safe reopening of sporting events, things are yet to return to normal.
To safeguard the health of athletes and others involved, most major sporting events at international, regional and national levels were cancelled or postponed in 2020– from marathons to football tournaments, athletics championships to basketball games, handball to ice hockey, rugby, cricket, sailing, skiing, weightlifting to wrestling and more.
The Olympics and Paralympics, for the first time in the history of the modern games were postponed in 2020 and held in 2021.
The global value of the sports industry is estimated at US$756 billion annually.
According to a report released in 2020 by United Nations, many millions of jobs are at risk globally, not only for sports professionals but also for those in related retail and sporting services industries connected with leagues and events, which include travel, tourism, infrastructure, transportation, catering and media broadcasting, among others in the face of Covid-19.
Professional athletes in the year 2020 were under pressure to reschedule their training, while trying to stay fit at home, and they risked losing professional sponsors who may not support them as initially agreed.
Sports education sector, which is comprised of a broad range of stakeholders, including national ministries and local authorities, public and private education institutions, sports organizations and athletes, NGOs and the business community was also affected by the closure of education institutions around the world due to COVID-19
While this community has been severely impacted by the current crisis, it can also be a key contributor to solutions to contain and overcome it, as well as in promoting rights and values in times of social distancing.
As the world begins to recover from COVID-19, there will be significant issues to be addressed to ensure the safety of sporting events at all levels and the well-being of sporting organizations.
Physical activity and well-being
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, people were unable to practice normally. This came as a result of closure of gyms, stadiums, pools, dance and fitness studios, physiotherapy centres, parks and playgrounds.
In Kenya, people have been going for morning runs either individually or as a group, but this became almost impossible when the dusk to dawn curfew was introduced, making it hard for people to go outside their homes in the name of doing physical exercise.
As a result, many people tend to be less physically active, have longer screen time, irregular sleep patterns as well as worse diets, resulting in weight gain and loss of physical fitness.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is important for someone to have 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. This is helpful, especially in times of anxiety, crisis and fear.
Therefore, lack of access to regular sporting may result in challenges to the immune system and physical health.
Mental health impacts which can compound stress or anxiety that many will experience in the face of isolation from normal social life can also be attributed to the lack of proper physical exercise.