Sports in the age of Covid-19
The raging global pandemic has inevitably resulted in reformations across various sectors in a multitude of prominent industries. Amongst these, the sports industry has been notably infected with severe changes having been made to the existent set of guidelines; some of the most-watched sports (and their popularised spectacles) across the globe, namely the NBA, UEFA Champions League, F1, and Cricket, have undergone new restrictions and development to ensure they are being played in a manner minimising the spread of the coronavirus infection. Elaborated upon below are the widespread rules meant to be abided, yet certainly differing, across each of these sports respectively.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has introduced various changes to the way the sport will now be carried forthwith. The ICC’S ‘Interim’ Rule Changes are as follows:
To begin with, teams will be allowed to replace players displaying symptoms of coronavirus during a test match, and the match referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement. However, this will not be applicable in ODI’s and T20I’s. Secondly, players will no longer be allowed to use saliva on the ball. Yet, if the player does use saliva on the ball, the umpire will initially show leniency during the adjustment period following which the entire team will otherwise receive a warning. A team can be issued up to 2 warnings per innings following which a 5 run penalty will be awarded to the batting side. In the case that players do use saliva, the umpire will clean the ball before play recommences.
Moreover, each team will get an unsuccessful DRS review in each inning, keeping in mind that inexperienced umpires may sometimes be on duty. This will increase the number of an unsuccessful number of appeals per innings for each team to 3 for tests and 2 for white-ball formats. The ICC Cricket Operations team will support match referees for code of conduct breaches. A neutral Elite Panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video links.
A relaxation on rules for apparel logos has also been approved for the next 12 months. A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. As of now, logos on the chest are only allowed during ODIs and T20Is.
Firstly, teams will arrive at Lisbon airport and be rushed through VIP entrances to ensure as little contact as possible with the general public. Matches will then be played behind closed doors and a two-meter distancing rule will be in place where possible. It is also mandatory that clubs should be in their own protective bubbles throughout the stay in Portugal, with players given their own room and teams, where possible, in hotels without other guests.
Moving on, bus drivers, who will take the players to the stadium, must have a coronavirus test beforehand. The stadium itself will be divided into areas, with only players, coaches and medical staff allowed in Zone One, which includes the pitch. All areas will be disinfected on a regular basis and saunas, ice baths and pools are all closed off.
Each of the 16 clubs left in the competition has had to appoint a hygiene officer, whose role is to oversee UEFA’s protocol at stadiums. They will need to ensure everyone entering the grounds has their health and temperature checked. This extends to doping tests as well which are subject to restrictions; in cubicles, mirrors have been installed so that officials can check players are correctly carrying out their urine samples without getting up close.
Perhaps the most absolute rule to be followed is that no fans will be allowed in for at least the first phase of the championship, alongside a lack of casual spectators, guests and sponsors. In addition, there will be minimum media permitted coupled with the maximum number if operating personnel being maximized to 80.
With regard to the team bubbles, every person going into the track will have signed an official FIA Code of Conduct. Those working in the pitlane and paddock will have to ensure they possess a negative covid-19 test beforehand. A Track and Trace app will also be utilized to better monitor the situation within the racing circuit in case of an outbreak. Engine changes are further expected to take much longer than average due to the additional safety gear required to be worn. Thus, curfews will, in turn, be relaxed and additional working hours on Thursday and Fridays will be allowed.
A standard allocation of tyres will be put into place where each driver will receive eight softs, three mediums, and two sets of hard. The provision for the compulsory running of extra experimental tyres has been tweaked slightly, and will now take place in the first 30 minutes of FP2, instead of the last 30 minutes. Moreover, the driver parade and the podium ceremony will be entirely cancelled.
Lastly, grid procedures have been tweaked to allow for social distancing, with a minimal amount of people involved, and for less time. Teams will be permitted to have 40 personnel on the grid and the pit exit will close 20 minutes prior to the commencement instead of the typical 30 minutes.
First and foremost, instead of getting into a huddle in front of the team bench, both sets of players will sit on special chairs placed by the team staff with the coach sitting in the middle. In addition, wider border around the sidelines, a revised set up for team benches and a special cloth covering on officials’ whistles are now mandatory.
The changes also include relaxation in the attire for head coaches and assistant coaches, who are now permitted to wear polo shirts instead of business suits alongside a plexiglass enhancement which will surround the scorers’ table to ensure they are safe from any sweat, spittle or any body fluid flung around as the players clash will be implemented.The new arrangement will also showcase multiple rows of seats arranged at an appropriate distance from each other. Each bench is divided into three sections—for players, coaches and team staff.