In addition to changing everyday life, the pandemic has also heavily impacted the world of sport. Artyom Arakelyan and Vahagn Davtyan, a coach and an athlete, share their experience
Covid-19, which has changed the daily life of the whole world in the last two years, also dictates its conditions to the world of sport. The first case of coronavirus in Armenia was recorded in early spring 2020, on March 1st. Things started changing in the following days: since March 10, all the youth championships held under the aegis of the Armenian Football Federation were interrupted. Several soccer teams also cancelled their training sessions. The restrictions subsequently expanded, covering all sports disciplines.
From March 16 to April 14, by decision of the government, a first state of emergency was declared – then renewed several times – which entailed further restrictions, including the suspension of all sporting events and the activities of sports clubs.
Now, in place of the state of emergency, the so-called "quarantine" is in force with milder restrictions. The gyms are open, training has been restored, but the world of sport has not yet returned to normalcy. “Athletes trained at home because of the coronavirus. They tried to do physical exercises, but these cannot be considered as a real workout. In particular, there are types of sports that must be practiced with certain equipment. If the athlete does not have the necessary equipment, the training is not effective”, says Artyom Arakelyan, who works in the Armenian Football Federation as football grassroots coordinator.
According to Arakelyan, the pandemic has changed the pace of life for athletes. Due to the virus, people are now forced to choose between "wellbeing and safety". “I used to go to the gym regularly, but as soon as Covid-19 spread, I went less often. It is a common tradition in our culture that when you see an acquaintance, you approach, hug and kiss, which is the biggest spreading factor for the virus. In other words, if we follow all the rules to prevent the virus, however, there comes a time when you come into direct contact with your friend, you do not keep social distance. I had to stop going to the gym”, says Arakelyan.
Although he points out that this is only a small personal example, this is in his opinion representative of how the pandemic is affecting not only professional, but also amateur sports. “As I have already said, I no longer go to the gym but I only go to the Federation headquarters as I work with the women's national team. Recently one of our girls was unable to participate in a tournament abroad because she tested positive for a swab".
“Every day without training leads the athlete to take steps backwards. Any tournament that an athlete cannot participate in is a serious source of stress”, points out Vahagn Davtyan, internationally awarded member of the Armenian national gymnastics team.
Like him, many athletes believe that this pandemic will leave a big scar on sport. It is not uncommon for Armenian athletes to train for several months, find the right form and then, after leaving for international competitions, being told that everything has been postponed. From a psychological perspective, these obstacles place a great deal of stress on any athlete and affect the training process. Davtyan is among those who have felt the severe blow of the pandemic on their skin. Recently, after regularly testing negative, he was able to leave for the World Gymnastics Championships which were held in Japan. Unfortunately, once he arrived at Haneda airport and had another swab, he tested positive. "The result of the swab was a surprise. I had already gotten sick with Covid-19 and I know what pains and health problems the disease entails. This time I had no symptoms. However, since the outcome was positive, I had to isolate myself and wait for the next swab", says Davtyan, adding that each day of waiting was a significant psychological burden, not to mention the fact that he could not train or prepare for competitions.
Fortunately, after six days of solitary confinement, Davtyan tested negative again. "I was sure I was not sick. However, this mistake did not allow me to participate in the championships and I just had to go back to Armenia". Despite everything, Davtyan continues to train and hopes that vaccines can contribute to the return to a normal life.
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