In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic is still shaking up the world of sport

Published on : 12/01/2021 – 14:40

As in 2020, the world of sport will have to live between the organization of events under high health surveillance and cancellations. The coronavirus pandemic is far from over for everyone.

Patience and adaptation. Two words still relevant for the sports movement. Friday, January 15, participants in the Australian Open tennis, delayed by three weeks (8-21 February), are expected for the Australian major tournament, with a strict health protocol. Starting with fourteen seclusion for each participant in a hotel room.

Spared in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic which broke out a few weeks after the final, the Australian major tournament is in turn struck by the difficulties linked to Covid-19. On the positive side: the organizers hope to welcome 50 to 75% of the usual audience, which is by far the largest number of spectators since the start of the pandemic.

European Rugby Cups at a standstill

Everywhere on the planet, the conditions to be able to organize a gathering of athletes are draconian. During the Handball World Cup which begins Wednesday, January 13 in Egypt, no participant will be able to leave their hotel outside of travel for training and matches. The meetings will be played behind closed doors. If the land of the pharaohs manages to maintain its event, this is not the case for everyone.

In Europe, the European Rugby Cups are suspended ” at least until early February Because of the health context in the UK. The organizer explained that he did not “ other choice “Than to formalize this” temporary suspension »And the postponement of the next two days of the European Cup and the European Challenge, scheduled for the weekends of January 15 and 22. “ The French government wishes as a priority to fight against all risks of introduction “More contagious variants of Covid-19 and their” circulation on national territory », Explained the Ministry of Sports. And uncertainties are mounting over the 2021 Six Nations Tournament, due to open on February 6.

Cyclists will wait

Training center closures and rescheduling of matches are also the lot of NBA basketball in the United States, which resumed at the end of December without renewing the bubble system that had made it possible to complete the past season at Disney World in Florida. Its ice hockey counterpart, the NHL, has opted for a reduced schedule and a geographical reorganization of the divisions, but matches have already had to be postponed in the country most affected by the pandemic to date (more than 374,000 dead ).

Cycling, which had a complicated start to the year in 2020 with cancellations of cascading events, has not yet left the hostel. The Tour of San Juan in Argentina, which was scheduled to take place January 24-31, has been canceled. Britain’s Chris Froome and Slovakian Peter Sagan, among other big names in the peloton, had considered starting their season there. Another early-season event, the Tour Down Under, the traditional kickoff of the WorldTour calendar, has also been canceled as has La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon, which is usually held in January. The different races of the Challenge de Mallorca, which usually take place in the Balearic Islands at the beginning of February, have been postponed to mid-May.

Formula 1 shifted

Like cycling enthusiasts, Formula 1 fans will also have to wait. The Formula 1 Australian and Chinese GPs, scheduled for March 21 and April 11 in Melbourne and Shanghai, are postponed to November 21 and indefinitely. The season will therefore not start in Australia but in Bahrain on March 28. In 2020, the Australian GP, ​​which takes place on the Albert Park street circuit, was canceled in extremis in the early hours of the pandemic after the discovery of a positive case at McLaren, while free practice was going start.

Twelve months later, it is almost a cut and paste that the world of sport is about to experience when we are a few months away from the Tokyo Olympics (July 23 to August 8), already postponed for a year. The organizers of Tokyo 2020 denied, this Tuesday, January 12, the holding of discussions in February about a possible cancellation, after their postponement last year due to the pandemic.

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