Sport: the Covid, a shadow that hovers again

Sport: the Covid, a shadow that hovers again

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Paris (AFP) – A small carnage of favorites at Wimbledon, a few withdrawals before the start of the Tour de France … If the upsurge in Covid cases has not yet completely turned sports competitions upside down, it once again poses a threat which seemed to have been dismissed.

The episode of Wimbledon where in turn two ex-finalists of the tournament had to forfeit after contracting the Covid – the Croatian Marin Cilic and the Italian Matteo Berrettini – aroused fears of an epidemic.

An episode which especially pointed to the lack of protocol at the London tournament, the players having tested themselves. And this is where the situation becomes grotesque. Because the tests are no longer compulsory for the main sporting events to come, with the exception of the Tour de France, allowing positive but asymptomatic sportswomen or sportsmen to compete.

Several cases before the Tour de France

This is for example the case for the next Women’s Football Euro which starts in five days. Asked about the situation, the coach of the France team Corinne Deacon also summarized it perfectly by explaining that the Blue were under the aegis of UEFA and were therefore going to comply with what the body asks ” that is to say, not much”.

“The only constraint we will have and which will be imposed on us by UEFA will be to wear an FFP2 mask when arriving at the stadium and in the locker room. But once we are among ourselves, we will have to ‘take off to play,’ she explained.

Should we suddenly reintroduce a tight protocol for competitions? An eventuality which would be a priori difficult to understand for sportsmen and sportswomen as long as the States do not themselves modify the rules for the rest of the population.

“We paid the price, we ate our black bread with a year of bubbles and tests. We all got vaccinated. The Covid is part of our lives now,” said tennis player Alizé Cornet after the packages from Cilic and Berrettini.

The Croatian Marin Cilic, engaged in the Queen’s London tournament on June 18, 2022, is forfeited at Wimbledon due to the covid Adrian DENNIS AFP/Archives

The situation has nevertheless forced the international cycling union (UCI) to reintroduce tests for the Tour de France by modifying its protocol a few days before the start of the Great Loop. The Tour de Suisse had served as a warning after around thirty riders had to forfeit and several teams were also forced to reorganize their collective after several cases of Covid detected just before the Tour.

But if a positive case occurs during the Tour, the decision to isolate or exclude the positive person will not be automatic but will be taken collectively with the team doctors, the Tour and the medical director of the UCI.

“We usually”

Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is also trying to educate by asking riders to “refuse selfies and autographs”. The particular configuration of an event like the Tour de France, with the public close to the riders, requires special attention.

For the players of the French rugby team on tour in Japan, who left about ten days ago, two players (Aymeric Luc and Max Spring) tested positive before departure and joined the team very recently after their isolation. Tests imposed by the protocol of the Japanese federation, but which did not stop there. The whole team had to be tested once in Japan after three days of quarantine.

The back of RC Toulon Aymeric Luc in the final of the European Challenge against Lyon in Marseille, May 27, 2022
The back of RC Toulon Aymeric Luc in the final of the European Challenge against Lyon in Marseille, May 27, 2022 NICOLAS TUCAT AFP/Archives

“Unfortunately, we are used to that”, explained the opening half Antoine Hastoy in a press conference. “It was the same thing during the tour in Australia last summer. We have been living with it for more than two years. We are doing our best to ensure that the virus does not spread through our ranks”.

“We continue to spend time together, we said it was important for us to do so and then the Covid is everywhere, we all know it,” said second line Thomas Lavault, a bit fatalistic.

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