Germany’s Bundesliga will be the first major league to restart on Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The early kick off match, pitting Augsburg against Wolfsburg at the WWK Arena from 4:30pm Kenyan time, will be aired by NTV. The last time the two sides met was almost a year ago, with Wolfsburg hammering Augsburg 8-1.
“We are extremely happy about the return of the Bundesliga and the first platform to air it since the league was cancelled. We hope our viewers will enjoy the games that we will bring in their sitting rooms,” NTV’s Head of Broadcasting Monicah Ndung’u said.
Covid-19 has seen major sporting events postponed and others cancelled. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics which was postponed to next year was a major causality in this year’s sports calendar.
Other top events affected were the Nairobi Continental Tour, the World Under-20 Athletics Championships and the world major marathons, among them London Marathon. With life crawling back to normalcy, football leagues and clubs are considering returning to the pitch.
A study has suggested that the return of the Bundesliga and football elsewhere in the world might not be such a big risk in terms of spreading coronavirus. There are new “rules” in football across all leagues to lower risks of players contracting the virus.
The rules including having five subs as opposed to initial three subs, players changing to fresh kits at half time, no group celebrations after a goal is scored and matches being played behind closed doors.
Despite being a contact sport, the Telegraph cites a study that suggests players are only within infectious distance of each other for an average of 88 seconds per match.
The report adds that the risk is even lower for amateur football, which gives hope for a return of the game at a grassroots level.
Fans will no doubt be hoping to see the return of the English Premier League sometime this summer as the Bundesliga is set to get going again this weekend.
“This is the best time for fans to expose themselves to leagues across the board. It is also time for football fans to meet young players in the academies who will be playing as first 11 in the Bundesliga,” StarTimes Content Director, Myke Mugo said in a phone interview.
However, the return of the Bundesliga must only be done when it is confirmed stadiums are safe for players and officials, though the study cited by the Telegraph suggests that it is perhaps not as big a risk as some expected.
Provided there is regular and thorough testing of players and coaches, and stadiums remain empty for some time, there seems to be a growing sense that football can soon resume without causing a huge spike in coronavirus cases.