(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Among the more startling aspects of the global novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is the speed with which everything is happening.
So Jamaicans went to bed on Thursday night knowing of two confirmed cases. They woke up Friday to hear the number of confirmed cases had increased to eight.
They heard the frightening news yesterday that the virus — which first showed up in Wuhan, China late last year — took 250 lives in Italy in just one day.
We hear that Europe is the new epicentre of the pandemic, with Spain now having declared a state of emergency.
Responses to the crisis have been chaotic in many cases, with some jurisdictions reversing themselves in terms of decision-making at very short notice.
And public attitudes have changed with similarly frenzied speed.
So we would not be surprised, for example, if those who opposed the decision to cancel the national high school athletics championships (Champs) in midweek have by come to terms with the wisdom of it.
Note that just about all major sporting events on local soil have been put on hold for the immediate future, or until further notice, including all Inter-secondary Schools Sport Association (ISSA) competitions, horse racing, Red Stripe Premier League football, Jamaica Cricket Association Senior Cup, et al.
Region-wide, in football, the Concacaf Champions League has been halted with immediate effect and the annual Carifta Games, a staple of Caribbean track and field, has been postponed until further notice.
We expect Cricket West Indies will bring an end to the regional four-day competition as soon as the current eighth round of matches ends this weekend. Other regional cricket due over the next month or two, including the Women’s Super50 Cup and age-group competitions, seem certain to get the axe.
Globally, there have been shutdowns of major sporting events on every continent.
Against that backdrop we are left to contemplate what’s to happen to the Summer Olympics and other major events scheduled within months.
Of course, life has to continue. In sport, as in everything else, human beings are extremely resilient creatures. They won’t just give up because of COVID-19.
In that respect, we note with interest that in Europe, earlier this week, there were Champions League football games being played behind closed doors to global television audiences.
Given the power and reach of television, and the extraordinary economic value of televised professional sporting events, we expect the closed stadium option to be increasingly used.
For all sporting competitors, this is an extremely difficult time, with extreme uncertainty as to what’s to happen from one day to the next. However, athletes should rigorously guard against complacency and the loss of motivation.
They must keep training, working, planning for a brighter future and competition to come. For like everything else, this crisis too will pass.