A year ago, the sports world was on pause because of the coronavirus worldwide pandemic. We’ll now bring you up to speed on sports and COVID-19. But many are asking what’s the latest on sports and COVID-19. Professional and amateur sports in almost every country in the world were shut down due to COVID-19.
Fast forward to the present and the sports world is back to normal … almost. We saw the completion of the 2019-20 NBA and NHL seasons. MLB played a shortened schedule but crowned a World Series champion.
The NFL season went off with few hitches culminating in a Tom Brady-Tampa Bay winning Super Bowl. As we get ready to head into the summer, the sports world is back though it has been a bit different. An entire college basketball season was played with hardly any fans in attendance.
So, what does it look like now? Here’s a glimpse of the current sports world and COVID-19.
Race for the Roses
It was a beautiful day. Saturday, May 1, Churchill Downs welcomed back the Kentucky Derby to its normal date on the schedule. The venue also welcomed 51,838 fans, far short of the usual 150,000-plus but far more than any other sporting event since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Kentucky Derby set the record for the largest pandemic-era crowd. Medina Spirit pulled the upset beating favorite Essential Quality, who finished fourth. It was a huge win for sports fans.
Alabama Football – Sports and COVID-19
If there is a football game in Alabama, then you can bet there will be fans. The defending national champion Crimson Tide held their annual spring football game to cap off their spring practice.
On Saturday, April 17, 47,218 fans entered Bryant-Denny Stadium and watched the annual “A-Day” game. All fans had their temperature checked before entering the stadium. Masks were required of all those in attendance.
In the end, the White beat the Crimson 13-10. Another win for sports fans. Just another sign that sports and COVID-19 are getting along.
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The NFL’s 2020 season was about as close to normal as one could get. The league did without its offseason OTAs (organize team activities) and minicamps and played no preseason games. In the end, the league plowed through its 17-week regular season with just a few coronavirus-related hiccups.
The 2021 season is off to a good start with roughly 35,000 in attendance at the annual draft. This year’s draft was held in Cleveland and fully vaccinated fans were allowed closer to where the action was. Did you see the betting options for this year’s NFL draft? If you didn’t have access to those sorts of bets, it’s time to find a sportsbook that caters to you.
The league did not hold its annual combine event, but is planning on another successful season in 2021. This one even features an increase in the number of games played by each team – 17.
It is an annual Memorial Day event. Last year, the Indy 500 was not run until August 23 and there were no fans in attendance.
What a difference a year makes. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is expecting 130,000-plus to be in attendance on Sunday, May 30.
Sports and COVID-19 – 2020 Olympics in 2021
As the pandemic shut down much of the U.S. in the spring of 2020, officials in Tokyo decided it would be in the best interest of the Olympic games if the 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed and rescheduled for 2021.
Opening ceremonies are set for July 23 and athletes (as well as staff, officials, media, etc.) will be under strict protocols. Anyone coming to Japan for the Olympic games must have two negative COVID tests within 96 hours of their flight to Japan.
All athletes will be tested daily. They will be required to use Games’ vehicles and not public transportation. They must also follow strict rules on where they may dine.
Still Wreaking Havoc
The IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships were scheduled to begin on May 6. The event has been moved to August 20-31 and will still be held in Canada.
Canada continues to have a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country. The hope is to have fans in the crowd as well as a full broadcast team in place for the event.
This is the second time the event has been postponed and rescheduled because of the coronavirus. The Women’s World event was last played in 2019.
NHL Playoff Issues
The NHL may have a problem when the playoffs reach the “conference” semifinals. The league realigned divisions to cut down on travel this season. All seven Canadian teams played in the same division.
The top four teams will make the playoffs with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and second-place playing third-place. Once a division champ is determined, that team is going to be required to travel to North America.
As mentioned, Canada has a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon returning to the country. Either that has to be waived or the Canadian team is going to have to relocate to the US.
While the sports world seems to be getting back to normal, the virus still has some lingering effects and will likely continue to for the remainder of 2021.