Sport

COVID-19 Update: When Will Our Sports Return?

Stuck at home on the couch, bored out of your brain?

Tired of looking through the TV guide and watching the same movies you’ve seen dozens of times before?

Like most red-blooded males you’re probably getting withdrawals from the lack of elite level sport to watch!

While there is some relief for basketball fans with the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls special The Last Dance airing regular episodes on Netflix, we’re in an unprecedented time right now without any live sports to watch or bet on (I’m not going to count Venezuelan women’s table tennis or whatever obscure leagues are still running).

So in the interest of keeping everyone up to date on when the world will return to normal, this article will serve to round up all the bits and pieces of news for each sport in 1 convenient spot, so read on to find what the latest is on your favourite sports!

AFL

The AFL is set to make an announcement by May 11th on when play will be able to resume. Some speculate that the season will fire up again at some time in June/July, however we should have more of an idea some time during the next week.

Unlike in many countries, Australia has been experiencing a rapid decline in new COVID-19 cases since our lockdowns were put into effect, so there are some growing optimism that we will be able to resume some form of play of the major sports over here very soon.

The AFL has confirmed that play will commence with no fans in attendance, which is a bit of a bummer for people who love to show up and support their teams, but even without the atmosphere of 80,000 screaming fans, it was still enjoyable to watch the 1st round games, and is preferable to having no games at all.

The league has also looked at a similar option to the NRL, of having a quarantined hub for games to be played, however the player’s union didn’t seem to be on board with that idea, so for now, July looks likely but we should know more very soon.

They have mentioned that there will be canned crowd sound effects that a staffer that acts as a DJ will play cheers, boos and other sound effects that will make the experience more immersive for players as well as fans watching at home.

So at this stage, it looks like the Swans will remain undefeated for at least another month or two!

NRL

The NRL had previously looked at the possibility of moving all players and teams to rural NSW locations to resume play in isolation from the wider public. The NRL has a lot of financial pressure to push ahead as soon as possible and resume televised games to bring in revenue to the game.

NRL Chief Peter V’Landy’s said “The risk is minimal to zero. So why shouldn’t we start playing? Why are we going to rob our fans and players, because of scaremongering and alarmist rhetoric?” and has appealed to the Queensland government to allow players to travel from QLD to NSW for games.

Players appear to be committed, and barring any setbacks the NRL looks confirmed to resume on May 28th without fans in attendance.

This would be a remarkable feat and could actually help the NRL build a global following with sports fans overseas that may never have watched rugby league matches before.

Not all players were thrilled with the idea of being separated from their family to play in isolation, with some QLD based players being opposed to the idea. Darius Boyd recently stated “no chance in hell I could do four months away from my family” when asked about relocating to NSW to play, and would be content with considering retirement instead.

State of Origin could also go ahead later in the year, with some discussions mentioning October and others suggesting a December date after the completion of the season might be likely, and it is to be determined whether fans will be in attendance.

MLB Baseball

A recent Forbes article suggests that the league could resume training in May and start as early as June, however this now feels optimistic with the spike in new cases in USA, so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect that this date pushes into July.

The league would also likely require to play with a shortened schedule to accommodate the delay in play.

Tennis

The French Open has been pushed back from May to September 20th

The US Open could push it’s start date until October.

Wimbledon will likely be played in August.

However, ATP Chief Andrea Gaudenzi doused some of the expectation on these return dates with the possibility that tennis may not return in 2020 at all: “Nobody knows when we can go back to playing in total safety: talking about August, September, November is all hypothetical, we can’t bang our heads against the wall for something that maybe won’t even happen because we could even start next year,” he said.

The next Australian Open will hopefully not be affected and go ahead at its normal time early in 2021. They are reportedly considering playing in empty stadiums for the Australian Open, which would indicate that large social gatherings could be a long way away from being seen again on our shores (considering that the Aus Open is still 9 months away).

Golf

The PGA tour is set to resume in June, with the Charles Schwab Classic set to take place in Texas on June 11th. The first four tour events will not have fans in attendance, and there will be coronavirus testing before and health officials will need to give clearance before things will go ahead.

So while it may seem like it is a bit overly optimistic, there is a chance that we will see golf returning to our screens in around 6-7 weeks time.

The majors have been delayed, and there is some pessimism that with the state of things in New York that the US Open could even be cancelled, however we may need to wait and see how the situation pans out over the next few months before there is a clear picture on when golf may return to normal (or something close to normal).

Cricket

There will be no cricket in England until May 28th at the earliest. For our local cricket, given that the main matches like the Big Bash and the cricket World Cup will be held during our Summer, there is optimism that these will be able to go ahead as scheduled with some alterations like we have seen for most major sports (no fans etc).

Justin Langer vows to 'never, ever' take cricket for granted again ...

The fate of the World Cup and international test matches will largely hinge on how various countries are able to respond to the pandemic and get their cases under control and flatten the curve. If travel restrictions are still in place it may require a 2 week quarantine for visiting players, however, given that that is still many months away it makes sense to be cautiously optimistic in the hopes that those events can go ahead.

MMA

UFC 249 was scheduled to go ahead in Brooklyn this past weekend but was cancelled late due to concerns for safety. UFC president Dana White however has made it known that the UFC has purchased a private island where they are building up the facilities where they can fly in and out fighters to take part, with their crew, judges, referees in attendance to make it happen.

It sounds like an old school Jean Claude Van Damme movie, flying in the best fighters in the world to take part in the octagon, but it really is going ahead. And is a great show of ingenuity in the face of adversity to find a way for things to go ahead. Hopefully ‘Fight Island’ can play host to some epic fights!

Maybe they have a neighbouring island that can be developed and set up for NRL matches? 🙂

Basketball

My own personal favourite sport, the NBA was one of the first major sports to go into full lockdown (Thanks Rudy Gobert!). The league has been taking a cautious approach, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stating “It’s about the data, not the date”. However, there has been some good news today, with reports that the NBA will be re-opening practice facilities for players to work off the rust and get into playing shape starting May 1st in states where restrictions have been lifted.

Most assume that there will be a short period for teams to have a mini training camp to get players back into playing shape, and then a truncated regular season schedule, before things move into the playoffs.

This will not benefit teams like the New Orleans Pelicans that were looking like a real shot to jump into the #8 seed, but compared to having no season at all it’s an acceptable allowance to make.

It will likely also be the case that when games do resume that there are no fans in attendance, at least in the short term. The league and it’s team owners are bleeding revenue during the hiatus, so they will be looking at contingency plans to get things resumed as quickly as possible with minimal risk to the players, staff and their families.

It was looking like a real possibility that the entire season is lost, as NBA reporter Brian Windhorst stated recently “they are not having talks about how to restart the league. They are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.

Fingers crossed that isn’t the case and that the season is able to resume now that players can resume at practice facilities. There has been little word on the NBL, which cancelled the season mid-way through the Finals series, however the hope is that next season will be fine to begin on its normal schedule.

100% Aussie Owned

In the meantime, there’s still thoroughbred racing, harness racing and greyhound racing available each day. There’s also E-Sports which is growing in popularity, and some other lesser known sports available for betting, so still possible to get on and have a bet to keep us sane during this unprecedented time!

Head over to Playup and click on the Racing link up top to get a full list of the races available for betting today.

Click on Sports for all of today’s upcoming matches too.

Best of luck on the punt and stay safe!

Written by Peter Arena