Europeans back on the pitch again

, by Jérôme Flury, translated by Sophie Duverger-Smith

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Europeans back on the pitch again
The ball might be rolling again, but it will take a bit more time before the stands start filling up. Image: Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

Sport is doing its best to make its comeback in Europe post-lockdown. Whilst some tournaments have been postponed or cancelled, others are taking place with strict measures in place. European athletes are once again in action which is great news. An article from Le Taurillon as part of the June’s European Magnifying Glass.

Suddenly, everything stopped. No more shouting in the stadium, no more whistles being blown, no more exciting action on the pitch. Time seems to have dragged on without any handball, basketball or volleyball matches on the European continent, which became the epicentre of the pandemic in March. Like all citizens, sportspeople have found themselves stuck at home, trying to stay fit and optimistic in the absence of matches and even training. But athletes have gradually been setting foot on the tracks and grounds again, much to the delight of sports enthusiasts.

IN NEED OF SOME SPORT

Betting went through the roof in April. They were not made on whether football games would be cancelled or when they would resume, but on the Belarusian Premier League matches, the only ones that carried on normally whilst all other European countries took drastic measures. Charles Coppolani, president of the Online Gambling Regulatory Authority, describes how “normally, 10,000 to 30,000 euros are at stake in the Belarusian Premier League, which has nothing to do with the EFL League 1, for example. During lockdown, the figure at rose to 1 million euros.” Both French and European fans alike have missed football.

Luckily, with the end of May in sight, the majority of national championships are about to start up again. After many weeks during which rare questions arose concerning the players who’d tested positive for coronavirus, English, Italian and Spanish teams have resumed their training. In Germany, meeting up behind closed doors is now authorised, whereas in Austria, Salzburg celebrated its cup victory, while trying to respect social distancing

So, of course, the atmosphere isn’t the same as it was before the pandemic, but football is making a good comeback across the European Union. When it comes to continental tournaments, even though the European Nations Championship has already been postponed to summer 2021, the Champions League could be rescheduled so that it finishes this summer. European clubs hope to play against each other soon.

TRACKS AND COURTS WILL ALSO START TO FILL UP

Another sporting discipline set to make its comeback to European tracks is the Formula 1! On 2nd June, the International Federation announced an updated schedule whilst delays and cancellations have occurred since March. Six Grands Prix will now take place in Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium and Italy between July and September. There’ll be no spectators at these races, yet they’ll be able to save a season that wasn’t even able to start.

The tennis season has also been particularly affected and the English Wimbledon organisers were quick to announce the outright cancellation of the 2020 tournament However, competitions should be able to start back up on European soil. Earlier on in the year, France announced its intention to postpone the Roland-Garros to autumn. On 1st June, the president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, confirmed his intention to organise the tournament in early October.

This is the case for many sports, including athletics, which has suffered particularly badly from the postponing of the Olympic Games. Many athletes train for years in preparation for this major sport event, which is often the focus of a single season. However, competitions are gradually resuming. In the Czech Republic, a “back on track” tournament took place on 1st June in 173 stadiums. Under certain conditions, getting sweaty outside is, once again, allowed, and the resumption of sport is excellent news. “Due to its popularity, universal language and apolitical nature, sport for everyone is a place of social interaction and cohesion” asserts Kiera Wason-Milne, European Affairs project lead at the Sport and Citizenship Thinktank. Europeans, professionals and amateurs alike can relinquish their loneliness and find themselves back in sports practice, set to play a major role in the coming months.

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