Thursday, May 19, 2022

Omicron threat: From India tour of South Africa to Bundesliga, new Covid-19 variant threatens to wreak havoc

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Omicron threat: India tour curtailed – Just as normalcy was getting restored in the world of sports, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has thrown a spanner in the works. From the Netherlands tour of South Africa to India tour of South Africa and Bundesliga, cricket, football, wrestling and hockey have already been adversely affected with quite a few upcoming tournaments facing uncertain times.

The big news on Sunday was the BCCI’s announcement which stated that four T20Is would be shelved from the India tour of South Africa while Cricket South Africa have announced that they will be making adjustments to the logistical arrangements, such as the arrival time of the Indian team. But it is not the only victim. InsideSport takes a look at the sporting events that have already been hampered by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Omicron threat: From India tour of South Africa to Bundesliga, new Covid-19 variant threatens to wreak havoc

Netherlands tour of South Africa: The first sporting victim of the Omicron variant was the Netherlands tour. After the first ODI was washed out, the remaining matches had to be cancelled. The team left for home after a week in quarantine as the Netherlands began banning flights from the rainbow nation.

India Tour of South Africa: The venues for the first two Tests — Johannesburg and Centurion — are under Covid cloud. With the reluctance from the players including skipper Virat Kohli, BCCI shelved the four-match T20I series while pushing the start date to December 26.

CSA Domestic games: Earlier, CSA had already postponed all domestic games after some positive COVID-19 test results emerged following team pre-arrival testing sessions. In addition, the ICC had decided to cancel the women’s World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Bundesliga: The footballing landscape is also under threat with German authorities deciding to slash attendance numbers in Bundesliga games while a few games will also be played behind closed doors.

Omicron threat: From India tour of South Africa to Bundesliga, new Covid-19 variant threatens to wreak havoc

UEFA Champions League: Fans, who are the lifeblood of sport, fans, had just started filling the stands and now due to the new Omicron variant maybe once again asked to stay at home. This will deeply impact club finances as according to reports, UEFA had said their top clubs were expected to lose more than $10 billion due to Covid, with around $4.5 billion due to lack of ticket sales.

Europe’s top clubs have also expressed concerns and are seeking urgent talks with Fifa over releasing their players for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Omicron threat: Sporting events across the globe facing uncertain times as new variant threatens to wreak havoc

Athletics: Closer to home, Neeraj Chopra’s return to a training post his Olympics gold in Potchefstroom with his German coach Klaus Bartonietz had to be cancelled.

“He was supposed to leave for South Africa in the first week but it had to be cancelled,” AFI said. Instead, Neeraj Chopra will now start his preparation for the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in the prestigious training centre in Chula Vista, San Diego.

Wrestling: The Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, scheduled to be held in Pretoria from December 3, had to be postponed as well. A 60-member Indian team was supposed to leave for the tournament.

“We were in touch with the authorities in South Africa and we took the decision keeping our players’ health in mind. It would have been too much of a risk,” a Wrestling Federation of India official informed.

Omicron threat: From India tour of South Africa to Bundesliga, new Covid-19 variant threatens to wreak havoc

Hockey: The women’s junior hockey world cup, which was to be staged in Potchefstroom from December 5 to 16, was also postponed last week.

Golf: Among other major sports, The Joburg Open was scheduled to be the first of three events in South Africa to start the new season on the circuit formerly known as the European Tour. But next week’s South African Open will now only be a South African tour event with the majority of European players withdrawing following their respective government’s decision of imposing travel restrictions.

Omicron threat: Sporting events across the globe facing uncertain times as new variant threatens to wreak havoc

The future also looks bleak with China set to host the Winter Olympics in a few months and it needs to be seen how it tackles this. The Winter Universiade (a kind of Olympics for student-athletes) had to be cancelled. Even in tennis, the organisers of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, have said no unvaccinated player would be allowed to enter it.

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