Sport in ICUSaturday, May 16, 2020
We believe president of Cricket West Indies Mr Ricky Skerritt captured the situation very accurately and precisely when, over recent days, he likened regional cricket to being in an intensive care unit (ICU) as a result of COVID-19 and the resulting financial situation.
“This crisis has put our already poor financial state into ICU. It is like going to the doctor with an illness and, as he is about to prescribe the medication, you get a stroke,” Mr Skerritt said.
Of course the regional cricket chief could just as easily have been speaking of virtually every other sport.
We have no doubt, for example, that the decision of Jamaica's football leaders to scrap the 2019/20 season based on the ongoing health crisis was also related to the high cost of trying to play competitive physical-contact sport in an era of social/physical distancing.
On the other hand, in Europe, the need to bring in television revenue is driving football leaders, striving to see how best to restart leagues before empty stadiums, to open with the German Bundesliga this weekend.
In cricket, we note the strenuous efforts by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to make it possible for West Indies and Pakistan to tour that country this summer, starting with the Caribbean side in July.
Organisers are striving for international cricket in England over the next few months, despite the staggering effects of COVID-19 which had left well in excess of 30,000 dead in Britain up to yesterday.
Again, the plan is to play before empty stadiums in line with social distancing requirements, with live action relayed by money-earning television stations to millions of cricket watchers around the globe.
The arrangements being considered possibly provide a picture of what to expect in sport for the immediate future, unless COVID-19 can be decisively contained, cured, or prevented.
Obviously, quarantining of the players will have to take place before and after the tour, and specific arrangements will be onerous for all concerned.
Note the words of Mr Johnny Grave, CEO of Cricket West Indies: “We fully expect the quarantine for two weeks, but within our discussions with the ECB we would expect to be in a facility that allows us to train outdoors. So, we're talking about cricket venues that have hotel accommodation on the site, and therefore the entire practice facility as well as hotel accommodation would be in a biosecure environment… We've said to the ECB we want four weeks minimum, from landing, to prepare and to acclimatise and get used to the conditions.”
Thankfully, the England and Wales Cricket Board appears to have the resources and the willingness to fund such a project, fully believing they will recoup from television.
But what's to happen going forward, especially in the Caribbean where sport — not just cricket — is effectively on ICU?
And what of other events, not least the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup set for later this year and the 2020 Olympics in Japan postponed to next year? We worry.
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