Sporting Return Relies on More Than Hope

We strive to always look on the bright side and to be optimistic but if the last three months have taught us anything, it is to watch out for signs that trouble may be ahead.

The buzz at the moment is how we can begin to exit lockdown and how the actions of recent weeks in terms of coming together by staying apart have had a real impact on the spread of the coronavirus.

We are looking to Asia and to parts of Europe and the US where plans are advancing for a return to sporting action even if only at first on screens and we long for the ability to get out on the side of a pitch.

We know that 2020 will be challenging and yet we hope for the best in terms of getting a Championship played across Gaelic Games and crowning winners in all our sports.

The belief is that 2021 will be a year never to be forgotten with the Euro 2020 and Tokyo 2020 Games pushed back twelve months but once more on the calendar to sustain us in hope.

The reality is though that it is not hope that will get us through but a genuine defeat of this virus, a fact we were reminded of starkly in a report yesterday in the Japan Times.

Infection rates have risen above 10,000 now in Japan and are still climbing. Yesterday an eminent Professor of Infectious Diseases at Kobe University, Kentaro Iwata sounded an alarm bell saying that he was ‘very pessimistic’ about the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games going ahead next year.

“Holding the Olympics needs two conditions. Controlling COVID-19 in Japan and controlling COVID-19 everywhere else – because you have to invite the athletes and the audience from all over the world,” he is quoted as saying.

“Japan might be able to control this disease by next summer, I wish we could, but I don’t think that would happen everywhere on Earth, so in this regard, I’m very pessimistic about holding the Olympics Games next summer.”

We cannot stop in our tracks for every warning but we do need to be cognizant that this existential threat is more than sport, more than something we can control through hope.

Yes, we need to listen to and support those who are ploughing full steam ahead to bring sport back but the story that we need to be more attuned into is the search for a vaccine. Only then can we be confident in predicting when and where normal service can be resumed.

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