The Covid-19, a shadow hovering over sports again

A small slaughter of favorites at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, a few withdrawals before the start of the Tour de France rider… If the resurgence of cases of

Covid-19 has not yet completely turned sports competitions upside down, posing yet another threat that appears to have been eliminated.

The Wimbledon episode, where two ex-tournament finalists had to surrender after contracting Covid-19 – Croatian Marin Cilic and Italian Matteo Berrettini – raised fears of an epidemic. An episode that mainly pointed to the lack of protocol at the London tournament, where the players tested themselves. And this is where the situation gets grotesque. Because the tests are no longer mandatory for the main sporting events to come, with the exception of the Tour de France, which allows positive but asymptomatic sportswomen or sportsmen to participate. This is the case, for example, for the next Women’s Football Euro, which starts in two days’ time, this Wednesday, July 6. When asked about the situation, the coach of the French team Corinne Deacon also summed it up perfectly by explaining that the Blues were under the auspices of UEFA and would therefore comply with what the body asks, “that is, not much”. “The only restriction we will have and which will be imposed on us by UEFA is to wear an FFP2 mask on arrival at the stadium and in the dressing room. But once we are between us we will have to take it off anyway do to play,” she explained.

Do we suddenly have to introduce a strict protocol for competitions again? A possibility that a priori would be difficult for athletes to understand, as long as the States themselves do not change the rules for the rest of the population. “We paid the price, we ate our black bread with a year of bubbles and taste. We are all vaccinated. The Covid-19 is now part of our lives,” tennis player Alizé Cornet said after Cilic and Berrettini’s withdrawals from Wimbledon.

The situation has nevertheless forced the International Cycling Union (UCI) to reintroduce tests for the Tour de France by changing the protocol a few days before the start of the Grande Boucle. The Tour de Suisse had served as a warning after some thirty riders had to withdraw, and several teams had also been forced to reorganize their collective after several cases of Covid-19 were discovered just before the Tour de France. However, if a positive case occurs during the Grande Boucle, the decision to isolate or exclude the positive person will not be automatic, but will be taken collegiately with the team and Tour doctors, and the medical director of the UCI. Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is also trying to educate by asking riders to “refuse selfies and autographs”. The specific configuration of an event like the Tour de France, with the public close to the riders, requires special attention.

For the French rugby team players on tour in Japan, who left about ten days ago, two players (Aymeric Luc and Max Spring) tested positive before leaving and joined the team very recently after their isolation. Tests imposed by the protocol of the Japanese federation, but it didn’t stop there. The entire team had to be tested once in Japan after three days of quarantine. “Unfortunately, we are used to that,” said opening half Antoine Hastoy in a press conference. “It was the same when we toured Australia last summer. We’ve been living with it for over two years. We are doing our best to prevent the virus from spreading through our ranks,” he added. “We continue to spend time together, we said it was important for us to do that, and then, the Covid-19 is everywhere, we all know it,” estimated Thomas Lavault in the second row, a bit fatalistically.

Cyril TOUAUX/AFP

A small carnage of favorites at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, a few withdrawals before the start of the Tour de France rider… If the revival of Covid-19 cases has not yet completely turned the sports competitions upside down, it makes you once again a threat hovered that seemed to have been dismissed.The Wimbledon episode, which in turn saw two former tournament finalists…