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Sports at a Deadlock
Written by Myungjae (James) Han | Published. 2020.05.03 12:05 | Count : 538

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), the world as we know it has changed. In the midst of this global debacle, the sports world we all love has been devastated. 

The effects of the Coronavirus can be clearly felt in Hong Kong Stadium, the main stadium in Hong Kong. During this time of year, Hong Kong hosts a huge rugby sevens tournament over three days. At a time when the streets of Causeway Bay would have been at a standstill because of the tens of thousands of spectators making their way in or out of Hong Kong Stadium, the same place is a ghost town today. 

[Picture of Myungjae Han with athletes of the Hong Kong Stadium. 
Photo taken in September 2014. Photo Courtesy of Yunsoo Hong.]

[Myungjae Han recently visiting the empty Hong Kong Stadium. 
Photo Taken in April 2020. Photo Courtesy of Yunsoo Hong.]

Basically, all professional sports teams have now told their players to ‘WFH’ (the popular acronym for ‘work from home’). This means that professional athletes are now using social media connections to do their exercises following the instructions from a coach. Not only the Olympics, but practically all leagues and tournaments have been either cancelled or postponed as a result of the Coronavirus. “The LPGA is talking to other golf associations as an industry. What we can do is to host or hold tournaments without the gallery to benefit society by preventing the virus from spreading. Maybe in a month’s time we can slowly start hosting tournaments with no or minimized galleries. We will also need to educate all participants on spacing, touching regulations, not to request for or provide autographs and also regarding the importance of minimizing contact,” said Sean Kim, a director of the LPGA.

The Coronavirus has also led to a huge drop in revenue for the sports industry. For example, the NBA leagues have been suspended until further notice. Sportswear company Adidas has announced that it experienced a huge drop in sales since the Coronavirus outbreak by 1 billion Euros in China and 100 million Euros in Japan and South Korea. The LPGA usually holds around three tournaments a week, both big and small, and these have all been cancelled. 

Many businesses around the world have either terminated staff or asked staff to take pay cuts. This is also true for sports players around the world. As Sean Kim explained, “our players play almost every week and receive a tournament purse, and depending on how well they play they get their reward based on their rankings. Because tournaments are cancelled, our players cannot receive their pay”. 

[Email conversation with the director of LPGA before phone interview. Screenshot captured by Myungjae Han.]

The Coronavirus has not only affected sports as a business, but also shown that nobody can guarantee they are safe from it. Most of the reports have been about former sports players or family members of sports players that have passed away from contracting the Coronavirus. One example would be Orlando McDaniel, a former NFL player. However, there are healthy and active current sports players that have also passed away due to the Coronavirus. News reports in Iran announced that Elham Sheiki, who was a 22-year-old Iranian futsal player, was one of several current sports players in Iran to have died due to the Coronavirus. The numbers for current sports players who have contracted the Coronavirus but have not died as a result are even higher. 

However, the sports industry has also demonstrated real humanity in these difficult times. According to Sean Kim, “for someone like me, making money is the most important, but at times like this it is important to not only focus on making sales but also listen to the concerns of sponsors and do anything we can do to help them. We are reaching out to the sponsors and showing that we care”. 

The Coronavirus outbreak has crippled sports, in every aspect. The effects of the Coronavirus can be felt all over the world, as it has affected players and teams alike. It has led to a serious drop in revenue for players, teams, sports brands as well as tournament organizers. Most tragically perhaps, it has physically affected current and former athletes, their families and their coaches.

 

  







Myungjae Han
Year 10 (Grade 9 in the U.S.)
The Kellett School

Myungjae (James) Han  student_reporter@dherald.com

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