Undoubtedly, 2020 was marked as atypical for sports in Costa Rica and the world after March 6th, when COVID-19, a disease derived from the SARS CoV-2 virus, became a Pandemic. Although it is true that sports activities have been gradually resumed, nothing has been the same since then, and even the effects will continue in 2021 until vaccination coverage is achieved significant and effective enough to immunize a majority of the population.
Although in some countries they have allowed a small return of public, in groups of coexistence and distance, in Costa Rica this has ceased to be a topic of conversation since last March and for the remainder of the past year, and although it is expected that in this January the public is allowed at half of the capacity at most events, the projections of the Pandemic curve in the country may postpone this guarantee.
The main world sporting event, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, went down in history as the first to be postponed after World War II, by agreement between the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees with the Local Organizing Committee, and were scheduled for 2021.
Other main competitions that could not be retaken were the U20 women’s soccer World Cup. In addition to the setbacks of the change of venue from Nigeria to Costa Rica and Panama, more logistical problems and postpositions arose until it was finally decided to cancel it and assign Costa Rica for 2022.
The same happened with the U-17 Women’s World Cup scheduled to take place carried out in India, where in many cases the elimination processes did not even begin. The downside is that this time, many young women who were eligible in 2020 or 2021 are no longer going to be in 2022.
It also had to say goodbye to one of the freestyle motorcycle competitions that over the years have become a cult in the country, such as the X Knights, which first ran from March to September 2020 and then passed to March 2021, as long as the maximum capacity is accepted for that month.
Unmissable competitions for the end and beginning of the year, such as the Cycling Tour of Costa Rica or the Coffee Cup, had to be canceled for the first time in more than 50 years, and although it is true the international tennis tournament did manage to be held in 2020 because the Pandemic had not started yet, the 2021 edition could not be saved.
On the other hand, while the Flamengo Marathon was postponed to 2021, other athletic races such as the San José International Marathon or the San Silvestre Race chose to migrate to virtual mode, so that each participant had to record themselves in a video doing alone or with partners. registered the route from a nearby street, gym, or trail, or from the home treadmill, and send it to the organization within the defined period, as in other international marathons in the world such as Boston, New York, Berlin or Chicago, made that way.
The 2020 National Sports Games were also not possible, which in recent years were held during school and mid-term school holidays, and although at the beginning they were planned to go ahead in December, finally, that could not be, and now they will have to wait a date in 2021.
Finally, the competitions that did go ahead had to be done without an audience, behind closed doors, with the minimum necessary personnel, and with rights of journalistic coverage quite limited only to television channels or radio stations with transmission rights. Given this, those who signed up to compete in collective sports that were resumed (soccer, basketball or futsala) had to appeal to sponsorships or television rights to be able to help themselves.
A year lost for college sports
University sports also had its impact, as the teams of all public universities chose not to compete or train in person since March and until further notice. The last university sports delegation that had action was the men’s futsal team at the University of Costa Rica, on Monday, March 9, when behind closed doors San Francisco beat 5-4 for the third date of a Premier League that, subsequently, was canceled and declared void, like the other categories.
Since then, the only thing that has been done is remote training sessions, virtual chess, taekwondo or karate tournaments in form modalities, two virtual athletic races, and FIFA video game championships.
Any university athlete who wanted to play in national endorsed competitions had to register with other clubs; like the basketball player Paula Mora, who since 2014 was a figure in women’s basketball with the University of Costa Rica and now signed for San Ramón, or the futsal player David Meléndez, who reinforces San Isidro de Heredia. And in the international university arena, on March 13 the Central American Sports Games (Juduca) scheduled at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala were canceled.
The challenges for 2021
The highest national sports authorities such as Minister Hernán Solano and the president of the National Olympic Committee, Henry Núñez, agreed that the impact is already very great, but it can worsen depending on the economic policies that are emanating from the Executive or Legislative Power towards sports.
Núñez has made it clear that support was needed for the sport, although it is true that he knows that they could undermine their girdle. “The impact that this past year has already meant for sport at all levels of sport undoubtedly drove a hard blow for children and young people, as well as all the administrative, technical and professional personnel involved in this important sector.”
While Solano defended the need for investment in sports not to be curtailed in 2021. “We have to bet on sports and culture, this is a country that cannot bet more on diseases, we cannot get used to dedicating more and more resources to police to take care of us in the neighborhood. 2021 will be the year that the Olympic Games are held in Tokyo, our athletes must have all the support of the country for their preparation and their trips so that they arrive in the best competitive condition”.