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In the time of the CoronaVirus outbreak, a message to dispirited sports fans

Virat Kohli

I know you want to see live sporting action. You are craving for it, longing for it.


When a series is called off, you are devastated. When the IPL is deferred, you believe that you are being robbed of your right to live your passion. But, just for a few moments, step back and prioritise things.


The novel Coronavirus, a term that has lost its novelty over the last few days and has almost become hackneyed, has made its presence known in 140 nations so far. Over 200,000 people have been affected by the virus with more than 8,000 people across the globe succumbing to the pandemic - as declared by WHO on March 11. In India, 147 people have been tested positive, with three of them losing their lives.


Does sport, a recreational activity in fundamental terms, have any significance at a time when 8,000 have already lost their lives and many more, no matter how unfortunate it may sound, will go down the tube in the coming days?


"Keep politics out of sport," is one of the most loved and repeatedly used lines by sports fans. But what does one do when the wrath of nature hits politics, sports and everything else in one go. When the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has affected anything and everything across the globe, how can our beloved sports stay immune to it?


The outbreak has led to the deferment of the much-anticipated Indian Premier League till April 15. And, even as the tournament might be conducted after the said date, it is likely to be a closed door affair. The South Africa v India ODIs and the Australia v New Zealand ODI series have been cancelled midway. Nepal's Everest Premiere League and the Road Safety World Series have been postponed.


The monster has also led to the ATP Tours, Asia XI v World XI and the England tour of Sri Lanka being postponed. Seria A, La Liga UEFA Champions League and the Euro League matches have been suspended. The English Premier League has been suspended till April 4 and NBA games have been cancelled.


No only that, the Tokyo Olympics - the pinnacle of global sport - are under serious threat, with many of its qualifying events either postponed or cancelled. Movie theatres across India and the world are being shut down. Even New York's Broadway theatres are dark.


There is obviously some thought and substance behind these decisions taken by some of the sharpest brains in sport, entertainment and business. I know it pains to see an Indian summer turning from a feast to a famine right before your eyes, but there are bigger things at stake; like wellbeing and life.


The chants of "Dhoni, Dhoni" and "Kohli, Kohli" or the buzz around ISL games are like music to your ears, but at a time when a gathering of even more than 50 people is not advisable, think of the damage an assembly of over 50,000 people per game can cause.


Think of the wellbeing of the players, though their immune system is likely to prove too strong for the virus - and how the virus can spread to their friends and family through them. Think of the officials and support staff, many of whom can be susceptible to infection.


Think of yourselves, the fans, who in fact, are the ones under the biggest threat, specially those visiting the stadiums, buying food from the not-so-hygenic stalls, potentially catching the virus in that vast gathering!


For many sport tragics, sport is the be all and the end all. Those affected by this virus of sport, like you, will find it tough to give precedence to the medical virus over the one that has already infiltrated your blood, but that is the need of the hour.



That said, don't you worry. All of this will pass at some point.


Remember, how severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) hit Asia in 2002. It was pretty scary at that point, with a fatality rate of about 10 percent and no drugs shown to be effective against it. By that metric, the current coronavirus has a way lower fatality rate that has been estimated ranging from less than 1 to 3.4 percent. SARS was brought under control within months, and so were Ebola and H1N1.


As the medical practitioners device an antidote for the ailing or the virus dies a natural death, and life returns to normalcy, sports too will be up and running. The chants of "Dhoni, Dhoni" and "Kohli, Kohli" will return, AIFF will lift suspension over football matches, the Olympic qualifiers will be back on track, and you will feel complete again.


Till then, let sport take a back seat. Watch highlights. If you are Indian, watch the 2011 World Cup final. If you are Australian, there are far more choices to pick from. If you are Pakistani, watch the 2015 Champions Trophy final. If you South African, well, watch some movie.


But, just hold tight. It might be a matter of days, may be months. But, sport will return; it will return with a bang.


©Cricket World 2020