The human spirit will prevailSaturday, January 02, 2021
THE year 2020 came to an end with news that 10 elite West Indies cricketers, including Test match Captain Mr Jason Holder and captain of the limited overs versions Mr Kieron Pollard, made themselves unavailable for this month's tour of Bangladesh because of COVID-19 concerns.
Cricketers everywhere have been complaining about the stressful nature of the very necessary biosecure bubbles associated with COVID-19. Such arrangements are now virtually automatic for competitions at international and domestic levels.
Mr Holder — who has experienced such bubbles in England in July, for the subsequent Caribbean Premier League, the Indian Premier League, last month's West Indies tour of New Zealand (though only for a limited time because that country is virtually virus-free) and a recent short professional stint in Australia — has been up front in complaining about the debilitating effects of bubble life.
So, while it is all extremely disappointing for Caribbean cricket fans, who were hoping for something of a lift in Bangladesh following the hammering the regional team took in New Zealand, perhaps it should have been expected that bubble fatigue would take its toll.
The truth is that, like most other places, Bangladesh, a country of more than 160 million people, has had its fair share of COVID-19. There's been more than 500,000 cases registered there, and just over 7,500 deaths.
News reports of several elite Bangladeshi cricketers testing positive in recent months probably dented the confidence of some West Indies players, despite a glowing report by a two-man Cricket West Indies delegation which visited the Asian country recently to assess tour preparations.
Cricket apart, we note that tentative steps recently to return spectators in limited numbers to English football have been scaled back by a new surge in COVID-19 cases and the alarming spread of a new, more infectious variant.
It's not all bad news. Yesterday word came that despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan, that country's prime minister, Mr Yoshihide Suga, is promising that the Olympic Games — which were postponed from 2020 because of the virus — will be held later this year, in July/August, “safe and secure”.
We hear that costs for the Games have been increased by an estimated US$2.8 billion because of efforts to curtail the spread of the respiratory illness, but organisers are ruling out a delay.
In Jamaica, we note optimism from the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association that the popular Boys' and Girls' Championships, which had to be abandoned in 2020, may be possible in 2021.
And in football, organisers are actively seeking sponsors and preparing themselves for a premier league season.
Medium- to longer-term optimism will certainly be driven by the huge vaccination programmes now being undertaken across the developed world.
We have been told by the health authorities that only about 16 per cent of Jamaicans will have access to such vaccinations this year. That's a slow start, but a start nonetheless.
As is the case for every aspect of life in this time of crisis, there are few certainties ahead in 2021 and beyond.
But, what we know from history is that the human spirit will prevail.
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