The Covid-19, a shadow that hovers over sport again

A little battle of favorites at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, a few retreats before the start of the Tour de France cyclists… When the cases flare up again

Covid-19 has not yet completely turned sporting competitions upside down, it again poses a threat that seemed to be eliminated.

The episode of Wimbledon, where two ex-finalists of the tournament had to retire after contracting Covid-19 – Croatia’s Marin Cilic and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini – fueled fears of an epidemic. An episode that particularly highlighted the lack of protocol at the London tournament after the players tested themselves. And here the situation becomes grotesque. Because testing is no longer mandatory for the upcoming major sporting events, with the exception of the Tour de France, allowing positive but asymptomatic athletes to compete. This is the case, for example, with the next European Women’s Football Championship, which starts in two days, this Wednesday, July 6th. Asked about the situation, the French team’s coach, Corinne Deacon, also summed it up perfectly, explaining that the Blues are under UEFA’s aegis and would therefore comply with the body’s requests, “that is, not much”. “The only restriction we will have, imposed on us by UEFA, is to wear an FFP2 mask upon arrival at the stadium and in the dressing room. But once we’re between us, we have to take it off to play anyway,” she explained.

Should we suddenly reintroduce a strict protocol for competitions? A possibility that would be difficult for athletes to understand a priori, as long as the states themselves do not modify the rules for the rest of the population. “We paid the price, we ate our brown bread with a year full of blisters and tests. We all got vaccinated. The Covid-19 is now part of our lives,” said tennis player Alizé Cornet after Cilic and Berrettini’s withdrawal from Wimbledon.

The situation has nonetheless forced the International Cycling Union (UCI) to reintroduce testing for the Tour de France, changing its protocol a few days before the start of the Grande Boucle. The Tour de Suisse had served as a warning after around thirty riders had to retire, and several teams also had to reorganize their collective after several cases of Covid-19 were detected 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 collegially with the team and tour doctors and the UCI Medical Director. Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is also trying to clarify things by asking drivers to “reject selfies and autographs”. The particular configuration of an event like the Tour de France, where the public is close to the riders, requires special attention.

For the players of the French rugby team, which was on tour in Japan about ten days ago, two players (Aymeric Luc and Max Spring) tested positive before leaving and only recently joined the team after being isolated. Tests imposed by Japanese federation protocol but didn’t stop there. The entire team had to be tested once in Japan after three days of quarantine. “Unfortunately, we’re used to it,” explained Antoine Hastoy, the first half, in a press conference. “It was like that when we toured Australia last summer. We’ve been living with it for more than 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’s important to us, and then Covid-19 is everywhere, we all know that,” said second-placed Thomas Lavault somewhat fatalistically.

Cyril TOUAUX/AFP

A little slaughter of favorites at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, a few cancellations before the start of the Tour de France cyclist… If the rise in Covid-19 cases hasn’t completely turned sporting competitions upside down, it’s doing it again for you Hovering a seemingly dismissed threat: The Wimbledon episode, in which two former finalists of the tournament…

Leave a Comment