Brian Lewis, president of the T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC) says he expects the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has shutdown sports all over the world and kept millions of fans in lockdown, to have a long-lasting effect on sports while pushing esports into the mainstream.
With sports worldwide mainly being halted due to the fears of loss of life due to COVID-19, many individuals have turned to esports, the virtual versions of many sporting disciplines being played have skyrocketed as persons occupy their time during lockdown and isolation.
Quoting from Aristotle Lewis first stated: "It's is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
Looking past the pandemic that has so far led to more than 148,986 deaths and 2,214, 539 cases worldwide, with 560,309 persons recovering, an optimistic Lewis said, "We have to look to the future and we have to face our reality as a lot of sports will have to put a going out of business sign as covid19 will eventually catapult esports into the mainstream because I don't think people understand how serious the financial situation is as I will say again, the myth is shattered."
Lewis said, "The COVID19 pandemic is going to force sports leaders, administrators and organisation to accelerate and embrace the transformation that many have been resisting.
Sports is going to have to become very technology-oriented and there will be the need to accelerate digital and technology literacy within national sporting organisations and sports administrators.
"It's going to be a long hard road post covid19 so its important that sports organisations and sports administrators take the opportunity as we are staying at home and self-isolating and having to quarantine to take a long hard look at ourselves and sports and how sports fit into the new world order, and the new world order here in T&T."
Expecting a grim outlook for sport, a cautious Lewis said, "It's certainly not going to be business as usual as you know. It's going to re-shape how sports is seen, consumed, and interaction of sport with the wider community and environment and it is going to be massively and incredibly disruptive and transformative.
"Those who don't embrace the challenges and obstacles and see them as opportunities will in effect waste the crisis.
Despite the major problems ahead, Lewis did provide some hope saying, "There is no problem that cannot be overcome and solved, it just means that we have to be open-minded and figure out ways and take a look at everything.
"I will like to see sports organisations embrace the technology, and digital transformation and the T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC), and the T&T Commonwealth Games Association (T&TCGA) will have to join in some areas and some others take the lead in supporting, advising and guiding national sporting organisations that are affiliated to the T&TOC who will need advice and guidance in engaging in serious strategic reviews in terms of embracing the new reality, and the post covid19 world.
"The pandemic has cost the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since the second World War.
"There has been an incredibly high social and economic cost and that is going to put additional pressure on sport generally globally to redefine itself and reposition itself in terms of addressing some of the issues post covid19.
"I think that one thing that the covid19 pandemic has highlighted is the importance of the strong immune system, the importance of addressing the non-communicable diseases, that would have put people at risks to covid19, be it compromised immune systems, hypertension, diabetes etc so that in all the gloom and despair and fear that it has caused it has also highlighted some important aspects and certainly some of the things that we all felt in the world that was important and a priority, a number of those things have had to take a back seat to what we now see as being a priority."
"The global sports network and not just the Olympic movement is a complicated one to manage and what we have seen is that the fallout has been significant.
'Several international federations have had to furlough staff, cut programmes, put things on hold, and cut salaries.
"Besides, several events had had to be postponed and the whole revenue stream and business model of the global sport have been exposed in a very brutal way that it's not sustainable and I think this would have kind of burst the bubble in which the global sports movement and sporting industry operated and I think that's a huge wake-up call for sports leaders and sports administrators.
"It was as if the myth has been exposed and destroyed because certainly the business model of many of the major sports have been brutally exposed, and not sustainable, and sports organisations and international federations have proven that they didn't have the wear-it- all to protect themselves against financial ruin and what covid19 has presented as I believe the only organisation that has shown that it has the financial resources in these times are the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA.
"COVID19 has also shown that exercise is vital and essential for our mental and physical health, but organise sport and sporting events are not as important as exercise.
"COVID19 has shown that sport and organised sports events are mere entertainment and the reality that sports organisations have to face going forward is what is their core business and COVID19 has shown the core business of sports events and organised sports at this point is in the entertainment business."
"In most sports organisations planning and strategic planning, what covid19 has also exposed is the importance of risk management and what-if scenarios and building resilience into the strategic plan of sportings organisations.