What’s Up: Quo vadis sport events?
In this month’s What’s Up Student Column, EUSA Student Commission member Mr Moritz Belmann shares his opinion about sport events in the current climate and what the future holds.
It was kind of normality, what happened just last week Sunday on March 28, 2021. The new Formula 1 season began in Bahrain, and if you watched just the race without the award ceremony or the grid, you wouldn’t even know that we are in the middle of a global pandemic. The drivers fought for their positions as per usual, and in the end Lewis Hamilton was the winner of the race. In Bahrain, spectators weren’t important for the atmosphere during the race, even before COVID-19 hit.
Unfortunately this normality ended after the 90 minutes of racing, which were only possible due to the immense amount of money spent in this kind of sport. The number of tests is incredible and the financial aspect is enormous, yet even in this environment there are still Covid-19 cases. Other sport events without this financial backing are in an act of balance. On one hand the organisers want to guarantee an international competition, while on the other hand the danger of infections is everywhere. During the last months we’ve all seen major outbreaks after or during international sport events like the Athletics European Indoor Championships, a fencing world cup or a judo Grand Slam. Organisers have always had the health aspect as their priority, but the virus was seemingly always stronger. Therefore we must ask: do we need sport events at the moment?
‘Yes’ is a possible answer. Sport thrives because of the comparison of individuals and teams. We want to know who is faster, stronger and better, therefore competitions are part of sport’s DNA. And the current sport events are vitally important for clubs, associations and athletes to survive from a financial aspect.
But, this financial aspect is critical. The football clubs of Europe, for example, play a ridiculous game in finding a possible stadium in which to play. For example, Liverpool and Leipzig played their Champions-League games in Budapest while Molde from Norway and Sevilla from Spain played their Europe League games in Italy. During a time nobody should travel around, football clubs are setting a bad example which many people do not agree with.
We shouldn’t forget that sport lives because of the intercultural exchange, too. This is the unique atmosphere during major sport events like Olympic Games, World University Games and the EUSA European Universities Games. I couldn’t imagine these types of sport events without the possibility of speaking with athletes, coaches, spectators or organisers from other countries. I doubt that these events would stick in my head and will be connected with amazing emotions if I’m prisoned in a hotel room without the possibility of experiencing this intercultural exchange.
University sport especially lives from this exchange. Most of our athletes want to experience a sport event. Of course, the competition itself is important, but it’s the atmosphere that is different to a ‘normal’ sport competition like the World or European cups. Therefore the postponement of the EUSA Games is right. We need to take care of our unique style of competition. We want to come together, compete together, celebrate together and understand each other.
I know the third wave is very annoying. I don’t want to continue my home schooling, my online sport courses or my virtual GPS-tracked competitions. BUT, we must go through this together, until all people have had the chance to get their vaccination and a safe sporting environment can be guaranteed for all.
To be honest, it was very nice to follow the Formula 1 season opener this year, which reminded me of normality, at least for those 90 minutes. But for sure every sport event plays with the health of their athletes and staff members. The best strategy against COVID-19 can fail and at the end the young athletes will pay the price. Therefore let’s go through this, one more time, TOGETHER.
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