Will international and professional sport be resumed before 2021?

If the coronavirus prevails too long, professional sport will be bankrupt. (Photo credit UPCA)

The recent cancellation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, scheduled for the last week in June, raises the question if sport events and tournaments will be able to resume in 2020? The cancellation of Wimbledon is just another high profile event that joins the long list of sport events that have already been cancelled for 2020 and rescheduled for 2021, like the Olympic Games.

The cricket world is still hopeful that the coronavirus will clear so that the T20 World Cup, the Indian Premier League, County cricket and other cricket can still take place this year. Rugby and football too are hoping the same so that their codes can complete competitions and scheduled sport can resume. Whether this is realistic or not only time will tell.

There is no doubt that the sports industry is facing some serious challenges. Former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, wrote a column on Cricinfo stating that cricket had been here before during the Second World War and survived the crisis. That is true, but there is one fundamental difference:  Cricket was not a professional game in those years with financial commitments to players and professional administrators.

The real issue is that if the coronavirus prevails too long, professional sport will be bankrupt and take years to recover. However, this is probably not very different for economies and companies across the world.

We have seen in certain countries that sports codes have already taken drastic financial measures to survive. In Australia, the Australian Football League and Australian Rugby Union have already temporarily retrenched 75% of their administrative staff to save costs. In England, the government have certain financial schemes in place to support their companies and professional sport falls into this category.

There has been an ongoing process to get players to take cuts in salaries, with the England international cricketers already rejecting this request. This will set the trend for cutting county cricketers’ salaries; it will not happen.

This stance by the England contracted cricketers illustrates the problem that professional sport faces. If one of the biggest crises the world has faced can’t get professional sportsmen, who earn in excess of £1 million a year, to consider making a realistic sacrifice for humanity, then not only professional sport but the human race has a problem. 

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