Fans prove pivotal in sport

Jessica Woodlock

There’s an age-old saying that many singers, athletes, and general celebrities favour at awards ceremonies, on podiums, or in everyday life – “This is for my fans”.

It seems almost a routine phrase, something to please the thousands of spectators in the stands and those watching on television, but it goes much deeper than that.

Fans play a role in sports, much like how the wheels play a role in a car. Whether it’s from underage matches with parents and siblings shouting you on, local club teams with friends and neighbours supporting, or international competitions when the whole country is behind you, the support from fans is pivotal in competition.

Last week it was announced that the Japanese government have decided to ban overseas spectators at the 2021 Olympic Games, according to a report from Japan’s Kyodo News Agency.

The decision has been made in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country and to prevent the foreign variants of the virus from spreading.

The news will come as a blow to the thousands of athletes competing, many of whom will not have experienced the atmosphere of an Olympic Games before.

Not having fans at matches is like singing to an empty stadium, both of which have to be done in current times, thanks to the pandemic.

Speaking to The College View, Irish Rugby 7’s player Lucinda Kinghan said, “It’s anticlimactic.”

“It’s almost like playing a challenge match since there’s no crowds and no atmosphere,” she said.

Kinghan and the Irish Women’s Sevens Rugby team are due to play in the Seven’s World Series, commencing in May.

Similar to the Olympics, there’s a fast turnaround for competitions, with more than one match being played a day. “It’s usually a real social occasion,” she said.

Kinghan explained that “with so many different countries fans not attending it’s going to be empty…it’ll be eerie when we’re walking through the venues between matches”.

With matches taking place in France, the presence of the host country’s team and lack of other team’s fans, will not go unnoticed.

“They’ll have supporters cheering them on and we’ll have none of that. It completely takes away from home advantage,” Kinghan said.

It will be interesting to see how athletes perform under these new conditions at 2021 Olympic Games, most of whom will not have the support of a team behind them.

While it definitely will prove a Games like no other for the athletes, the lack of overseas fans also removes the commercial element, bringing it back to what it started out as – a competition for those wanting to prove they can go faster, be stronger and jump higher.

Jessica Woodlock

Image Credit: Sky Sports