Wimbledon, Tour, cricket and rugby find Covid still in the air

Wimbledon, Tour, cricket and rugby find Covid still in the air

As fans once again fill stadiums this summer, a spate of Covid-19 cases at major events suggests it’s too early to encourage pandemic-free sport.

After being canceled in 2020 and forcing spectators to test last year, this year’s Wimbledon appeared to signal a return to sunnier days as the UK relaxed its pandemic rules.

Then 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini, 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic and Spain’s 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut retired.

They had all tested themselves and acknowledged their positive results.

“We paid the price, we ate our black bread with a year of bubbles and tests. We all got vaccinated,” said tennis player Alize Cornet before adding: “The Covid is now part of our lives.”

British player Liam Broady has suggested less well-off competitors might think twice before disqualifying themselves.

“At the end of the day, if you’re a bit cold, you play the main draw at Wimbledon for £50,000 and a chance more. I’m not sure some of the lower ranked guys are going, scout’s honor , pull out and do a Covid test,” Broady said.

The Women’s Euro which will begin on July 6 in England is also relying on honesty.

France coach Corinne Deacon has said his team will do what European governing body UEFA asks of them “which is not a big deal”.

“The only constraint… imposed on us by UEFA will be to wear an FFP2 mask when we arrive at the stadium and in the locker room,” she said. Adding that the team would remove the masks “once we are between ourselves”.

“We’ll have to take them off anyway to play,” she said.

Also in the UK, the revamped England-India Test cricket, canceled last year due to fears of an outbreak in the Indian camp, started on Friday without visiting captain Rohit Sharma and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, both recovering from Covid.

Foakes was sent off after feeling ill and testing positive halfway through England’s last test with New Zealand.

The same thing happened in Sri Lanka on Friday as the all-rounder Angelo Mathews self-isolated ahead of the third day of a test with Australia.

The World Swimming Championships in Budapest rely on self-testing by individuals or teams.

– ‘Covid is everywhere’ –

A few days before the start of the Tour de France on Friday, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has decided to reintroduce tests.

They acted after around 30 riders were expelled from the Tour de Suisse which ended on June 21 and several cases were detected just before the Tour.

Still, even if a rider tests positive, team doctors, the Tour and the UCI medical director, will discuss the case before deciding whether to remove him from the peloton.

In an event where fans crowd the roadside, Tour boss Christian Prudhomme asked riders to “refuse selfies and autographs”.

The squads of two of the weekend’s opening rugby union summer internationals have been reshaped by Covid.

The French rugby team had to deal with stricter protocols in Japan. The team had to undergo three days of quarantine and testing after arriving.

“Unfortunately, we are used to it,” flyhalf Antoine Hastoy told a press conference.

“We have been living with it for more than two years. We are doing our best not to let the virus spread through our ranks.”

Second row Thomas Lavault said the team is trying to balance team spirit with caution.

“We still spend time together, we said it was important for us to do so and Covid is everywhere, we all know that.”

Despite Japan’s caution, their own team was hit. Fly-half Takuya Yamasawa on Friday became the fourth player ruled out of Saturday’s first test after testing positive.

In New Zealand, the All Blacks were hit hard ahead of their opener against Ireland with seven members of their coaching staff and players testing positive on Thursday.