• Updated : 2021.9.15 수 16:33
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Opinions: Mega Sporting Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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승인 2021.09.10  16:44:44
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▲ The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were officially declared open at an opening ceremony which took place at the Olympic Stadium on August 3.

Last month, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were held one year late because of the COVID-19 situation. It provided enjoyment and hope to people all over the world, who have dealt with the “pandemic fatigue” because the coronavirus continues to spread. But, the number of coronavirus infections has increased dramatically after the Olympics. Even though the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government hosted almost all of the games with no audience, the risk of spreading the virus between athletes or the risk of getting infected from small groups gathering outside the field remained. Therefore, there was a lot of controversy about cancelling or hosting the Tokyo Olympics over the past two years because they could be coronavirus superspreader events. Right after the events were finished, the Chonnam Tribune interviewed four students about hosting global sporting events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020 under the COVID-19 situation.

What was the main reaction of your country before the major sporting events were held?

Farok Md Omar (Bangladesh): Since Bangladesh is an all-time sports nation, the people in our country were delighted about the sporting events such as Euro 2020, the Copa America football tournament, and the Olympics. The sporting events entertained many people and helped them feel refreshed during the lockdown time of the pandemic. But some negative reactions existed because crowds at stadiums and pubs could raise the COVID-19 infection rate in Europe or North America.

Azamjanov Anaskhon (Uzbekistan): Most people in our country were happy about the sports festivals. I also thought those could bring positivity in our daily life because international events create strong bonding among many nations. Hosting a mega festival successfully is helpful to invigorate the host country’s economy and give advantages to citizens as well. I think with strict guidelines and rules, the host countries are able to handle COVID-19 related problems happening during the events.

   
▲ The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were officially declared open at an opening ceremony which took place at the Olympic Stadium on August 3.

Do you think sports festivals are following the guidelines for epidemic prevention properly?

Vezu Vecchiato Eduardo (Brazil): I think the major sports events followed the rules in the right direction because the governments of the host countries watched carefully whether they kept the regulations or not. However, in the case of small sporting games, I am pretty sure that they are not following the rules like social distancing or checking temperatures.

Seo Hee-young (South Korea): In my opinion, the host organizations usually do not keep the regulations well because I saw an article that Japan had COVID-19 prevention problems while they proceeded to hold the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. According to the article, they could not deal well with the quarantine management of the athletes arriving from overseas and lots of staff who had contact with them had not been vaccinated yet. Those circumstances looked like the Japanese government tried to care about the regulations, but I felt that they did not comply to all the guidelines in time and they considered that opening the event was more important than following the rules for coronavirus control and prevention.

Do you think the COVID-19 situation affects the athletes’ performance and sports games facility conditions?

Anaskhon: Yes. Because the virus resulted in the shutdown of various facilities including a gym, a pool and a playground, it makes people less active and stay home. Especially for the athletes, I think they were not able to participate in their regular workout freely and could not maintain their great condition compared to before the coronavirus situation.

Hee-young: Sure. I believe starting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics one year later definitely affected some athletes like in the case of Kim Je-deok. This archery athlete did not participate in the competition to be selected for the Korean national team because of injury, but one year gave him enough time to recover from injury. Finally, he won the gold medal. In team sports such as baseball or volleyball, I think the clapping and cheering from the audience is a big part of the game. So I guess in these non-audience conditions, the athletes playing those team sports could not have as much fun as before.

In your opinion, is it worth it to host mega events despite the risk of COVID-19?

Vecchiato: I believe that it depends on the host countries’ ability. If a host country has enough power to control the COVID-19 problems like following all the virus prevention rules and having sufficient places for quarantine, it would be worth it to hold those events. However, if the country cannot handle the serious situations during the pandemic, holding the sports festivals would be too risky.

Hee-young: It is totally worth it to host them. I think sporting games are one part of our lives, particularly for the athletes. To the audience, sporting events are just festivals but for the athletes who train for sports, the games represent their efforts and it is also the goal of their lives. To support the athletes, I think those events can take place, following the prevention guidelines thoroughly.

   
 

If the guidelines for preventing the virus work well, other kinds of festivals may be held gradually?

Vecchiato: If we wait for the end of the pandemic, starting all of these events too late could bring economic catastrophe to the world. Since all kinds of events cannot be stopped endlessly, we need to proceed with various festivals gradually and try to open them to the public complying with the health and safety rules.

Omar: Certainly. Other kinds of events should be held step by step, while maintaining the guidelines. However, it seems like a pretty unrealistic story because most sports’ events were not successful to protect people from COVID-19, even though they kept to the regulations.

Compared to last year in which all international sporting events were cancelled, the major sports festivals are being held all over the world this year. The reason might be to prevent financial loss or to support the athletes who work hard for those games. People are able to adjust to new circumstances, even in tough conditions such as the pandemic. The effort to remove COVID-19 out of our lives is significant, but it is important that we find ways to adapt to the current circumstances and try to continue our lives in this changed state whilst getting rid of COVID-19.

*************************************************************************

Farok Md Omar, Master’s Student, Graduate School of NGO, Bangladesh
Vezu Vecchiato Eduardo, Korean Regualr Course Student, Language Education Center, Brazil
Azamjanov Anaskhon, Senior, School of Electronics and Computer Engineering, Uzbekistan
Seo Hee-young, Junior, Dept. of English Language and Literature, South Korea

By Jo Ye-rin, Student Editor

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Opinions: Mega Sporting Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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