Almost all major sporting events have been postponed or cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak
The COVID-19 has engulfed the whole world and its devastating attack on humanity has left the universe shuddering. It has also caused a serious setback to global sports. Almost all major events have been postponed or cancelled. Pakistan is also in its grip. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had to postpone the knock-out stage of the country’s marquee T20 event, the HBL PSL 2020.
Just hours before the pre-finals at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, the Board announced that the knock-out stage had been postponed indefinitely. This is absolutely the right thing to do after an overseas player, who will be tested in his country shortly, showed symptoms of COVID-19, the PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said.
The PCB also facilitated the process of carrying out immediate tests of all those who were involved with the HBL Pakistan Super League.
“This is an unprecedented situation, which is evolving with each passing day. The PCB has closely monitored the situation and had taken precautionary measures, including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days,” he said.
The PCB claims it made the right decisions in the lead up to the postponement of the tournament that included consulting the team owners, holding the matches behind closed doors, allowing the players the option to withdraw from the tournament, rescheduling of the matches and reducing the number of event days.
This was indeed a tough decision. I think the decision was a bit late. The PCB should have postponed the tournament when Sindh government told it that the situation was alarming and that Karachi’s remaining matches should be held in closed doors.
The PCB confirmed on Thursday that all the 128 tests it conducted of the players, support staff, broadcasters and match officials were negative.
“It was absolutely critical for the integrity and credibility of the HBL Pakistan Super League and the Pakistan Cricket Board that all players, support personnel, broadcasters and match officials, those who had decided to stay back till the end of the tournament, tested negative for COVID-19,” the PCB said.
In this background, the PCB is pleased with the outcome of the results and happy that all these players and officials have joined their families without any health and safety doubts or concerns, the board said. The PCB said it would continue to put in place precautionary measures to safeguard the health of its employees.
The PCB will now look for a window for holding the semi-finals and final of this event when the situation becomes normal.
It would be much better if the PCB restored the play-offs. The Board had replaced play-offs with semi-finals in order to rapidly finish the event. Multan Sultans, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings have progressed to the semi-finals.
Before this, the remaining Test and one-off one-day between Pakistan and Bangladesh were also postponed. Pakistan Cup One-day was also postponed.
Because of the postponement or cancellation of Olympic qualifiers it is yet to be seen what the fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be. I fear these Games will also be postponed.
Despite the growing fears, our athletes are preparing hard for the Olympics. Javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem is doing his rigorous training in Lahore.
“I am doing my tough training at Lahore and will prepare myself for Olympics. You will find me InshaAllah well-prepared when Olympics will come. I will perform well InshaAllah,” Arshad told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS).
Arshad created ripples when he qualified for the Olympics with a massive throw in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last year.
Arshad is scheduled to undergo training in Finland from May 1 if normalcy was restored by then.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s shooters Gulfam Jospeh, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir and Khalil Akhtar are training in Germany for Olympics. They will return after completing two-month training.
Australia-based Usman Khan, who has qualified for equestrian event in Olympics through his horse Azad Kashmir, is also in tough practice. He will need to maintain his spot until the end of qualifiers.
“Around 57 percent of world athletes have qualified for Tokyo 2020 and that includes five from Pakistan,” Usman told TNS from Australia.
“The challenge is for 43 percent those players who have yet to qualify, as qualifying events are cancelled or postponed. Tonight, AFL first game of the season is being played in an empty stadium,” he said.
“Melbourne Cricket Stadium (MCG) still has life. My training hasn’t been affected but we are cautious on who enters our stables and security has been improved. There is no need to be afraid as we have seen tougher times than this as a nation,” Usman said. “The reality is that we have four months to go. April will be important. One must not forget China has been able to control the disease,” Usman said.
As precautionary measures, all sporting events in Pakistan have been postponed. Sports give human beings courage and patience to fight any calamity. I hope our prominent athletes keep motivating our nation in this tough time.