2020: The Year That Got Cancelled
It was shaping up to be a great year, and one that you wouldn't even have to leave your armchair to enjoy. With 2020 promising the European Football Championship, the Tokyo Olympics, and other huge sporting events, it was hard to see how things could go wrong. But they did - catastrophically.
The First Cancellations
When news of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, first spread, few people could have predicted what kind of havoc it would cause all over the world. Throughout January and February, many were still dismissing the disease as nothing more serious than the flu. Indeed, even as Wuhan went into lockdown, nobody could anticipate that soon western countries would be following China's lead.
While some business events shut their doors, sports fixtures went on as planned - and soon became a focal point for coronavirus in Europe. Cancellations in the world of sport had been taking place in China and other Asian countries since January, but in sports-mad Europe, leagues tried to carry on for as long as possible. The Champions League, which sees fans travel across the continent to support their team, has been heavily scrutinized for its role in spreading the virus.
The February 19th match between Atalanta and Valencia in Bergamo saw 2,500 fans travel from Spain to northern Italy, already a coronavirus hotspot. On the 11th of March, around 3,000 Atlético de Madrid fans flew to Liverpool for another match. By this time, the league had succumbed to external pressures to play games behind closed doors, in empty stadiums - but the fans still travelled, intent on soaking up the atmosphere. In the face of stern advice not to travel, loyal fans kept hopping on planes.
The World Shuts Down
The first total suspension of a football league came in Switzerland, on the 2nd of March. This started a domino effect throughout Europe and beyond. Leagues tried to keep things going, with matches played behind closed doors, but it couldn't last. By mid-March, all sports were on hold. Huge international events like Euro 2020 and the African Cup of Nations were postponed until 2021.
Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics insisted it would go ahead as planned, but on the 30th of March, they admitted defeat, and it was postponed for a year. The impact of coronavirus has been felt in the world of entertainment, too. The Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled, while the 2020 Billboard Music Awards are on hold. Prestigious events like the Cannes Film Festival have been wiped from the spring calendar.
The entire world, it seems, is on a break. Local shops and casinos have shut their doors until further notice.
What's Still On?
Is there any good news in all this? Well, sports fans may be limited to watching football matches from Belarus, where President Aleksander Lukashenko refuses to shut things down, insisting that the best way to counter coronavirus is to "hit the sauna and work hard." Doctors may not agree with him, but sports will continue there until further notice.
Many members of the entertainment industry are trying to adapt to the situation, too, with "live" concerts offered by bands and singers on Instagram and other social media. You might not be able to go to your local casino, but you can still enjoy gambling in online casinos, where it's business as usual.
Meanwhile, the World Series of Poker has adapted by playing more games online rather than in person. Of course, practicality prevents most other sports from doing the same, but this decision does give you a chance for some entertainment in these troubled times. When will things get back to normal? Sadly, that's anyone's guess. Until then, we all have to make some changes. Stay home and maybe check out the football live from Minsk.