On the occasion of World Health Day on April 7, the World Forum for Ethics in Business (WFEB) hosted a mega global virtual conference with the theme ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Sports’. While two million people from over 90 countries poised to attend the virtual event, the speakers included Christoph Daum, International Soccer Manager and TV Commentator. Germany, Tom Farrey, Executive Director and founder of the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute, Anja Hammerseng-Edin, Norwegian Professional Handball Player, bronze medal at the 2009 World Women's Handball Championship in China, Pullela Gopichand, Chief National Coach for the India National Badminton Team, India and Prof. Dr Adolfo Panfili, President of the International Association for Orthomolecular Medicine, Italy. The entire event was live-streamed and here are the highlights of the panel discussion.
The panel discussion began with Prof. Dr Adolfo Panfili, President of the International Association for Orthomolecular Medicine, calling sports a “big instrument” and “interaction” that affects the “way of behaviour”. He said that sports are a big instrument in the way of connecting as well, that helps us “grow”. Dr Panfili said, “We are nothing without any kind of connection and interaction”.
The professor added, “We have to be back to normality, respecting the interconnection that belongs to sports”.
Following Dr Panfill, “football legend” Christoph Daum from Germany noted the “real challenges” the sports world is facing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Daum said that the entire panel, which includes experts from across the globe, is here to find possible solutions concerning physical activities. He even noted a “hygenic concept” that started in Germany, which basically includes regular testing and strict monitoring of every player and staff member. He said the concept allows to train and have competition in a “safe and controlled way”.
Further, speaking about what society needs, Daum said, “They need clear recommendations, guidance and support”. He added, “They need clear and shared objectives, direction and purpose and also a creation of trust”.
“A clear accountability, orientation motivates people to fight and to succeed this pandemic,” Daum said.
Daum even said that the world needs to find balanced short term and long term goals. He said that people need to be inspired to be back on track in a “safe, sustainable, healthy and progressive way”. “Sports can stabilize one’s immune system and will have a helpful impact on the mental and social life,” he said.
Tom Farrey, Executive Director and founder of the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute, then went on to talk about the situation of sports in the United States of America. He spoke about the positive impact of COVID-19 on sports. Farrey said that amid the pandemic, people are doing more individual sports, families are off of the “hamster wheel” and virtual training has boomed.
However, Farrey even noted the negatives of COVID and said that due to the pandemic, people are less active than before. He said that there has also been significant mental health concern and there has been no social benefit or social experience because of the pandemic.
“The greatest impact has been in the disadvantage communities in the US,” Farrey said.
He informed that the virus has affected the programming of parks and recreation. Low-income families have been affected the most. There has also been an uptick in injuries mental health concerns.
Speaking about the new model for sports post-pandemic, Farrey said that reinvesting in “community-based local play, low cost, affordable social experiences for kids” is important. He said that governments across the globe should enhance the capacity of local providers and they should increase fundings for community-based play. He also said that sports governance or a sports ministry should be made in a bid to coordinate sports activities.
When asked what new possibilities have been seen amid the pandemic, Pullela Gopichand, Chief National Coach for the India National Badminton Team, said that online classes or virtual training have drastically increased. However, he also noted that new sports enthusiasts have been comparatively less. But he said that because of the internet, knowledge is easily transferred and the community has become more interactive.