Sporting activities have been seen as a major author to economic and social development in the world. To protect the health and wellness of athletes and others involved, most major sporting events at international, regional and national levels have been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak of the global pandemic coronavirus.
For the first time in the history of the world the Olympics game was postponed, and will now be held in 2021.
According to record, the global value of the sports industry is estimated at US$756 billion annually. But with the outbreak of COVID-19, millions of jobs are therefore at risk globally, not only for sports professionals but also for those in related retail business and services connected with leagues and sporting events which includes travel, tourism, infrastructure, transportation, catering and media broadcasting, among others.
Professional athletes are also under pressure to reschedule their training, while trying to stay fit and avoid the risk of losing professional sponsors who may not support them as initially agreed.
Valentine Obiakor a golf Instructor for ‘Let’s Play’ Speaking to Lagos Post Online said;
“Let’s Play is a sports organization that partners with top primary schools to introduce and coach pupils the game of golf.
As a golf instructor for Let’s Play we just do our job but allow the school management to collect the coaching fee and then remits the money to my organization.
Business was blossoming as usual until covid-19 arrived in Nigeria. With the suspension of school activities, our business seized and source of income seized as well.
At this stage, i don’t even know what to do any longer. No alternative job available for me to do. Wherever we seek vacancies, you will get responses like, ‘we are laying off staff’ or ‘we are not employing until after covid-19 is over’. Very frustrating.
Just before the lock down, i was planning this big tournament for all our partner schools, and the money has been raised waiting for the tournament to begin, all expenses for the tournament were paid with my impending house rent but few days before the date of commencement, the lockdown was declared. Everything was put on hold as both school and sporting activities were all suspended at the same time in line with the lock down order, now I’m stuck with no one to turn to.
I was hoping to use the money for my house rent. Now I’m having issues with my landlord because I can’t pay up currently. My landlord wants to throw me out because I am unable to renew my rent.
All my life I have been a golf instructor, I only know sports, how do I cope now.
School activities really have to resume so I can get back to business.” Valentine concluded.
Following the outbreak of covid-19, the LGAN announced the suspension and cancellation of all golfing activities and upcoming tournaments in the country following the lock down of activities in the country.
This singular act has a direct impact on beneficiaries on the game of golf. To be candid, I see it as collateral damage. Ranging from the professionals, the caddies, the administrative staff, the club house staff, the green keepers and so on.
One of such affected persons is a young lad Segun Olagunju, a caddy at Ikeja golf club. Speaking to Lagos Post Online, He said.
“As a caddy at Ikeja golf club, I had my year 2020 all figured out. I never knew this covid-19 will affect us this way. I had my year planned out and then like a joke, covid-19 came to ruin everything.
Sports have always been my thing.
I play football and golf but golf is where I caddy and make a living.
Covid-19 came and the club was shut down and therefore no source of livelihood again. We are all stuck in this mess. In Fact I don’t even know where my next meal will come from. I just pray every morning for daily bread and God answers me.
Before the lock down was declared, I was planning to travel out of the country for greener pastures. But covid-19 left me stuck here since the ban of international travels. Now i am stuck here. Even the country where I’m moving to is suffering from covid-19 so if the travel ban is lifted, then i still can’t go until everything subsides totally. Therefore while I am here, i will make the most of it.
At one point I was tempted to join the ‘yahoo yahoo’ gang (cyber crime) business but because of my noble background and as a responsible young man from a religious home, i didn’t do it. But alternatively I went to learn how to repair phones during this lock down so I can make little money from phone repairs and I also support myself with sports betting once in a while.
The moment covid-19 departs the world, i will leave this country immediately.” He concluded.
Speaking of the effect of Covid-19 on related businesses, we won’t dispute the fact that this cancellation of many sporting events, in turn has affected many online betting companies and their customers.
With Nigerians reportedly spending a whopping ₦730 billion ($1,991,814.42) annually — ₦2 billion ($5,457.03) daily — on sports betting, revenue generation is sure to be a concern for sports betting companies with most sporting activities suspended in the wake of the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While on the other hand some non-betting sports enthusiasts have had to deal with the absence of weekly sporting activities or other cancelled sporting activities that must have led to the detriment of some businesses increased the agony.
The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and secretary to the federal government, Boss Mustapha, has revealed that football activities in Nigeria will remain shut down.
“I’m not sure we are excited about opening sporting activities in our country, particularly soccer [football], which attracts large crowds,” Mustapha told the media.
“If our guidelines say large gatherings are banned and not to exceed 20 persons except places of work, I don’t see the excitement if we allow soccer to return to an empty stadium.
“A lot of European countries where these games have started are big businesses and they are doing it carefully and gradually.
We are not excited about allowing sports to return, we will get there, but for now, we are concerned with the few activities allowed to reopen.
We will continue to review the situation, know how we are faring, study the situation and know what next to do based on data, science and peculiarity of our environment.” He noted.
The closure of education institutions around the world due to COVID-19 has also impacted the sports education sector, which is comprised of a broad range of stakeholders, including national ministries and local authorities, public and private education institutions, sports organizations and athletes, NGOs and the business community, teachers, scholars and coaches, parents and, first and foremost, the mostly young learners.
While our community has been gravely impacted by the current health crisis, it can also be a key contributor to solutions to contain and overcome it, as well as in promoting rights and values in times of social distancing
The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Sola Aiyepeku, has promised that sporting activities will eventually return back from the Covid-19 pandemic enforced break and even attain new heights in Lagos.
Speaking on the effects of Covid-19 safety measures, Aiyepeku said athletes and businesses built around sports have had to face great difficulties but remained very proud of the level of compliance by stakeholders in the sector.
The Minister informed the NFF team that in view of the coronavirus pandemic that has practically paralysed the sports industry, it is imperative to assess its impact on the domestic sports industry including football and consider strategies for charting a new course for football in the post-COVID-19 era.
Football obviously unites this nation which has diverse ethnicity therefore a wake up call is in order, even if it’s without an audience.
The experience that fans of football from this side of the world already relish week in week out frenzy. The way football will artificially recreate this covid-19 tensed atmosphere will be a story for another day. .