2021 has kicked off with a bang! Sporting competitions worldwide are continuing to defy the odds (some more successfully than others) and continue with their seasons despite the threat of COVID-19. Even though crowds are limited at many events, there is still a sense of anticipation and emotion watching sports such as the NBA and recent cricket series between Australia and India. So, here are my:

Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week!

5. The NBA desperately battles to keep its season running. Game postponements are growing every day as players are sent into quarantine after contracting the virus or being in contact with someone who has the virus. This has sent the league in chaos with teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers only have 8 available players to take the floor against the Miami Heat late last week. The Washington Wizards will go at least 11 days between NBA games after another postponement, the 14th in the previous five days. I thought it would be the NFL who wouldn’t complete their season, but now, it may be the NBA.

4. The Premier League Title Race is closer than ever! With at least 3 wins in their last 5 games of the league, Leicester City, Manchester United and Manchester City have all catapulted themselves to the top of the Premier League. However, Liverpool and Tottenham are only a couple points behind, setting up what may be one of the closest races to the title in recent history. Everton and West Ham are still in the hunt for champions league qualification, or even more if they can build momentum as they get closer to the competition’s end.

3. The UFC returned to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi with an incredible main event between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. Fight Island is a specific quarantined area of Yas Island which has allowed the UFC to continue to host fights with fighters from around the world during the pandemic. Previous events at fight island have been a great success, and during January the promotion will host three fight cards here, culminating in a Conor Mcgregor main event this Sunday (Australian time). The main event was a dominant performance by Max Holloway, who completed 445 significant strikes compared to Kattar’s 133. A brilliant win that puts Holloway back in the title race in the featherweight division.

2. The Buffalo Bills beat the Baltimore Ravens to reach the AFC Championship game! This is the first time since 1994 that the Buffalo Bills have reached the AFC championship and it was immensely deserved. The team, led by quarterback Josh Allen, remained competitive for all 4 quarters and took their opportunities to score points against the Lamar Jackson led Ravens. The win now sets up a Conference Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs with the winner set to verse the winner of the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.

1. India wins the final test match by 3 wickets and wins the series 2-1. There aren’t enough words to adequately describe the Indian cricket team’s performance over the series and especially in the final test at the GABBA. An understrength squad filled with players who wouldn’t usually make the Indian first 11, but motivated to win, even though a draw would still have had them retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. They defied what has been touted as one of the greatest bowling attacks of all time and persisted, fearless in their batting. A monumental achievement for a great cricket team and I wish them all the best as they go back to India to take on England in a 4 test series. For Australia, there are a lot of questions to be answered…

Feature Article: The Australian Open Disaster

It was supposed to be an event that could unite Australians and people worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, the Australian Open is starting to cause more problems than it could ever solve.

Players arrived in Victoria have been placed into a 14-day quarantine ahead of their grand slam matches. Most have been allowed 5 hours per day to train in strict bubbles; however, 72 players have been forced to remain inside their hotel rooms after multiple passengers on their flights tested positive for COVID-19. Immediately, the preparation for some athletes compared to others is vastly different, which could seriously impact their performance in one of the most significant tennis events of the year.

It is easy to understand why some players feel frustrated and angry at having to stay inside their rooms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not campaigning that they should be let out, and I’m not justifying any belief they may have that they should be able to go outside like the other players. But, preparation is vital when entering a tournament such as the Australian Open, especially after extended travelling, so it’s somewhat understandable.

However, there’s nothing that can be done. This is the position that we are in, and ultimately, it’s a disaster. We can’t let these players out and risk putting the entire nation at risk just to host a tennis tournament. But, it will inevitably lead to an uneven tournament where some players are going to more prepared than others.

Although this may be the case, nothing compares to the hardship that Victoria, primarily Melbourne, endured during the second wave of the virus. The Victorian government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world which stretched for over 11 days, and there is no logical reason to even give the virus a chance to escape into the community.

The best part about the chaos of the last week has been Premier Daniel Andrews’ firm approach, who has been under immense pressure during the previous 6 months. World Number 1, Novak Djokovic sent a list of proposals to Australian Open chief Craig Tiley, requesting a reduced isolation period and players to quarantine in private Melbourne houses with tennis courts. What did Premier Andrews say?

No.

(Game Set Match, Premier Andrews)

The Australian Open hasn’t even started yet, and it’s already being labelled a disaster. Let’s hope that the tennis which we witness is enough to make up for the chaos of the last week. It’s possible, but the last priority in this circumstance. I hope that the virus can be contained in hotel quarantine and that it can be smashed over the net, winning a crucial point for people of Victoria.

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