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Sporting Events During the Pandemic

Published on Jul 26, 2021 and last reviewed on Mar 08, 2023   -  5 min read


Sports events involve the gathering of people, which can result in the spread of COVID-19 infection. Read the article below.

Sporting Events During the Pandemic

How Did the Pandemic Impact the Sports Industry?

Sporting events attract a large group of people to gather, including spectators or fans, organizers, workers like security, medical personnel, media, coaches, multipurpose workers, and athletes. Keeping this pandemic in mind, almost all the sporting events were canceled by the authorities due to the lockdown and restrictions were imposed by the governments to control the spread of COVID-19. Since then, there have been alternating highs and lows of COVID-19 cases coinciding with opening up and lockdown conditions.

From the initial strict lockdown of various nations worldwide to the present near-normal conditions, different Governments have come up with numerous relaxations in the restrictions from time to time to keep the world’s economy going. Conducting sporting events is also a similar process. This would employ a lot of people who had lost their jobs in this field during the pandemic. Though experts are concerned with the rapid hike in COVID-19 cases that such events would cause, the show must go on, but not at the expense of people’s lives. An eye on the individual’s health is of utmost importance.

Does Conducting Sports Events Fuel the Pandemic?

COVID-19 is a contagious disease that spreads through one’s airborne droplets while speaking, coughing, sneezing, kissing, using contaminated hands to touch others, shaking hands, etc. Public gatherings, crowding, meetings, and minimal interpersonal distance act as the superspreaders of coronavirus. Conducting sports events is also something similar. It results in the quick spread of the COVID-19 infection among the people gathered to view, work, or participate in the event. Further, it leads to infection transmission from the affected person to others they meet on the way and their family and friends.

How Do Sports Events Cause a Hike in COVID-19 Cases?

  • More people gather at the same time and at the same place.

  • In the case of fans, they express their sports enthusiasm or cheer up players by yelling, singing, dancing, etc., which leads to the spread of COVID-19 through the salivary particles in the air.

  • There will be no physical distancing.

  • Indoor stadiums are mostly closed rooms with people packed inside. There will be no ventilation.

  • Eateries, bars, and public lavatories that people use more frequently are prone to viral contamination.

  • People from various places will travel to reach the sports venue through trains, flights, and other public transports, leading to crowding in railway stations, airports, etc.

  • People might litter their surroundings with used tissues or hankies that might have their infected nasal or oral secretions leading to further spread.

  • Players participating in the events stay together, meet, practice, eat and speak to many people within the event destination. This might pose a chance for infection to spread.

  • In events like the Olympics, sportspersons, volunteers, trainers, media, and spectators from various parts of the world reach a destination. They might act as infection carriers transmitting the infection from the event destination to their respective countries or vice versa.

  • There is a high chance of infection contraction in sportspersons and volunteers who come in contact with common sports equipment and tools. This holds true in swimming, where multiple swimmers race in the same water, which obviously exposes them to saliva and nasal secretions.

  • In ball-based games like cricket, basketball, volleyball, throwball, etc., all players come in contact with the same ball. Unwittingly players touch their nose or mouth or cover their sneeze or cough with hands leading to transmission of the infection through balls.

  • Events like wrestling and boxing need both the competitors to come close. Physical distancing is lost in such an event.

What Measures Help Reduce COVID-19 Cases During Sporting Events?

For Fans:

  • If people booked to spectate an event, make sure they are seated apart. Carry a hand sanitizer and sanitize the hands frequently. Cover the nose and mouth with a double mask till they return. Opt for open stadium events where there will be enough air ventilation.

  • Fans need to keep the risk and severity of COVID-19 in their minds and try to avoid traveling to watch sports events.

  • Organizing authorities can telecast their ongoing sports event live. Millions of fans worldwide can make use of this chance to watch their favorite event and players play being at the comfort of their houses. They can watch on televisions, mobiles, laptops, etc.

  • If people are alone or have no enthusiasm for watching the event alone, they can get connected to friends through audio or video conferencing calls and enjoy the event with friends virtually.

For Sportspersons, Volunteers, Trainers, and Others at the Event:

  • Wear masks mandatorily every time except while having food, sleeping, and competing.

  • Sanitize the hands before and after every game.

  • It is pretty common for the players to spit water or saliva during the game due to dust entering their mouths or choking. But indulging in sports during this pandemic period necessitates the players to quit such activities.

  • Apart from training and gaming time, players can restrict themselves within their room stay to limit physical interaction with others. Instead, they can use video or audio calls to interact.

  • Avoiding gatherings in the dining area also makes a great difference.

  • In case of any flu-like symptoms experienced by the players, the symptoms should not be ignored or hidden and immediately be informed to concerned authorities to gain immediate medical help.

For Organizers:

  • Preventing crowd gatherings is the best way any sports authority could take to minimize COVID-19 risk. If it is not possible to ban spectators completelydue to economic reasons, limiting the number of people attending an event can be done.

  • Stadiums with reduced and spaced seating facilities to maintain physical distance are also a way to reduce crowds.

  • They can offer free masks, sanitizers, and handwashing booths in the game area.

  • In the event of conducting sports events, organizers must make sure to raise awareness among the participants, delegates, and workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus before participating in the event. This will significantly decrease morbidity and mortality.

  • Concerned officials should make vaccination and negative COVID-19 certificates mandatory to be present at an event as spectators.

  • Frequent COVID-19 tests are necessary for everyone working on and behind the ground. Mandatory COVID-19 tests upon entry and before leaving and subjecting them to daily tests can help in prompt identification of infected individuals and control the spread.

  • Sanitizing the play area and equipment frequently is necessary.

  • Strict protocols to be followed by everyone at the event like masking, sanitizing, distancing, etc., must be developed.

  • Wherever possible, the organizing committee must try to reduce the number of participants or people in and around the tracks, ground, court, stage, etc.

  • Biodegradable and disposable plates, cups, bedsheets, hankies, etc., can be put to use.

  • Contact tracing of everyone at the event enhances the control of infection spread.

  • They can provide the athletes and volunteers with COVID-19 alerting devices in the form of wearables like watches or bracelets to alert.

  • Apart from the default medical team and kits, equipment to supply oxygen, medical personnel trained in managing COVID-19 affected people, and necessary medications must be made available 24/7.

  • Lat but not the least, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is of topmost priority. Spectators, sportspersons, organizers, etc., need to ensure they are vaccinated.


Though it is difficult to make the game environment completely COVID-19-free due to the nature of the disease, it is highly possible to reduce the number of casualties, especially with the advent of vaccines. With the increasing mortality rates and virulence of mutating coronavirus, people and authorities must be watchful of their COVID-19 control measures in any sporting event.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
08 Mar 2023  -  5 min read




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