COVID-19 denies athletes, fans of track and field feast

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COVID-19 denies athletes, fans of track and field feast

The Sporting edge

Paul Reid

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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Today, the Intersecondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Champs would have been at its midway point and the big teams would have started to make their moves and set the table for what was expected to be a sumptuous feast of track and field for the final two days.

Track fans were gearing up for yet another five days of high school track and field at its very best, but with the almost sudden appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic on our shores, the championships, along with many others around the globe, was called off.

Expectedly, disappointment and even anger followed the announcement of the cancellation, almost at the 11th hour, and despite how we felt then, with the benefit of 20/20 vision, it was the only decision that could have been made.

One cannot but feel for the young athletes who had sacrificed so much while dedicating themselves to preparing for what would be for some the biggest sporting event of their lives, an experience that they would have cherished as long as they lived.

Imagine those athletes who were injured last year, or those who transferred and had to sit out the year, this could have been their final time to strut their stuff at Champs.

Or, the athletes who had been making marked improvements all year and would be ready to get their personal bests at Champs and be offered a scholarship to study in the United States.

The decision to cancel Champs must have felt like a sledge hammer blow to the solar plexus.

What about the fans who were primed to see the clash between Hydel High's Ashanti Moore and Edwin Allen's Kevona Davis in the girls' Class 1 sprints, one of the many matchups that would have made Champs the best track and field meet on the planet this week?

But it's not just our beloved Champs that has been axed as the deadly virus sweeps across the globe. The entire National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) spring season has been called off, not just track and field, but all sporting events, and in some cases, conferences have mandated that not even practice would be permitted.

Football leagues all over Europe including the 'top five'- England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France - have been put on hold, the start of the American MLS has been pushed back, the NBA and the NHL have gone on hiatus, and the Euro 2020 has also been pushed back to next summer.

This, after the World Indoors track and field championships was postponed a full year until March next year, and just about every sporting event has been called off.

On Tuesday, news came that a decision had been taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics until, at least, next year.

The postponement, in my mind, will create a logistic nightmare and something will have to be moved to make space, given the billions spent on television rights and the fight for viewership.

With the World Track and Field Championships already set to be held in the brand new Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, a month after the World Indoors, organisers will have to find space on the calendar for the Olympic Games that would have a track and field component with the same athletes who would be competing at the World Champs - three major global track and field championships in one year.

My best bet would be for the Olympics to be held in September this year. Hopefully, by then, we would have been free of the effects of COVID-19.

One thing is for sure, whether things return to a semblance of 'norm', the way we live and go about our business will forever change, after the happenings of early 2020.


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