Politics And Sports In The Time Of Pandemic!

It was cruelly insensitive on the part of the Government of India to declare in Parliament that there had been no COVID-19 deaths during the second wave due to lack of medical oxygen in the country, when not only the thousands of the affected families but also millions other anxious or someway related families just cannot erase the nightmarish images of people dying gasping for breath on hospital beds, in the hospital passages/corridors/lounges, on the outside courtyards or on the streets, in the parked cars, within the four walls of homes; hospitals sending SOS for oxygen, desperate doctors even breaking down; and round-the-clock media reports and most disturbing visuals.


The reason given by the government is even more ludicrously insensitive: that the states did not report the deaths due to the lack of medical oxygen. Well, most of the states, particularly the ones ruled by the same dispensations would hardly advertise their failure or the stark lack of preparedness. The government is talking about the worst affected state of Maharashtra that too did not audit oxygen-related fatalities; the ruling party should know that it is the only state in the country that was adequately prepared with enough stocks of all requirements including medical oxygen cylinders. Instead, why don’t they talk about Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Karnataka? If they think this is some kind of image-building then they should rethink and concentrate on damage-control, because apart from being cruelly insensitive this act represents the lowest low of politics.


The Government of the union territory Delhi has made a most horrible claim: they constituted a  panel to audit oxygen-related deaths, but was disallowed by the all-powerful Lieutenant Governor to go ahead. Besides, what about the highest-level meets discussing desperate measures to streamline the supply of 02 or somehow increase its production, sanctioning setting up of numerous oxygen plants even within hospital complexes and to receive plane-loads of oxygen concentrators by several foreign countries including the UK and the US? Were all these sham? On the top of it, the denials about shortage of vaccines and the gross under-reporting of COVID-related deaths continue unabated. Normally insensitive people are compared with having rhino-like thick skin; however, on this inhumane count even the rhinos would turn their backs on them most disdainfully.


If  COVID-19 infections were not enough Israel’s NSO-Pegasus spyware, the legacy of 2019, has arisen again to re-infect the mobiles of a whole lot of journalists, activists, opposition political leaders and even existing ministers of the central government. While the NSO has been maintaining that it sells the spyware only to governments, the Government of India has not been giving convincing replies or arguments, and this is accentuated by the fact that there are many other governments in the federal union of India. Therefore, this is some politics or mystery that many never see the light of day unless the NSO closely inspects clients’ misuse and it finally destroys the software itself as somewhat indicated by them lately. The spyware is extremely difficult to detect and only it can self-destroy its traces within the mobile phones if it so desires.


In the sports arena all the matches of either football or cricket or tennis were played with no or limited-capacity crowds. Only the Euro Cup-2020, postponed last year, created quite a lot of excitement allowing crowds increase gradually to reach 60,000 or 75% of the capacity at the Wembley stadium, England from the semi-final stage while COVID-19 cases of the Delta variety increased by leaps and bounds on a daily basis there. The hosts England was much expected to win the Cup once they reached the finals creating history, but Italy’s penalty-shots victory generated a racial abuse at the stadium marring the reputation of the tournament. Meanwhile, England lifted all COVID restrictions and decided to coexist with virus, because with most of the citizens fully vaccinated hospitalization and fatality rates have been almost eliminated. Although this seems to be a practical solution, God forbid, it is fraught with dangers as more lethal variants can achieve vaccine-escape or immunity-breakthrough anytime.


The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has proved its insensitivity to the pandemic dangers time and again. Of course, it had to participate in the World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand in Southampton, England during June 18-23, 2021 with very limited crowds, and India lost that match due to colossal batting failure, all the euphoria it created when India qualified defeating England in the home series before the deadly second wave (then the BCCI had to suspend the IPL-2021 midway). However, the Indian team continued to stay in England to play a five-match Test Series against England starting August 2021, while COVID had infected a few members of staff including the most-favored Rishabh Pant. So much was the urge to get on with game that a second Team India was created under the captaincy of Shikhar Dhawan to take on Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, and the visitors have already sealed the three-ODI series leading 2-0.


And finally, the Tokyo Olympics, postponed since 2020, is starting tomorrow, the 23rd of July 2021 as quite a few athletes have already been infected and some of them ruled out which is very unfair as it deprives them of achieving medals. The World Health Organization has warned that infections are bound to increase as the Games goes on. We don’t see any reason why the biggest tournament of the world having all the countries on board should be held at this juncture. How many of a COVID-ravaged India with the Third Wave feared to hit at any moment would have the spirit to celebrate the possible medal winners, except of course, the hordes of insensitive Covidiots or clones?           


But of course, as sports enthusiasts and optimists we do wish all success for the Games, the Indian contingent and all the participating athletes, and fervently hope that more waves of the pandemic are effectively prevented everywhere on planet earth.