Apr 20, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus' potential second wave looms large over the sports world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amid the uncertainty surrounding the return of sports and the constant updates from leagues about when play might resume, don't lose sight of the most important factor of all: a second wave is almost certainly coming.

Driving the news: Based on league statements, more sporting events than ever are temporarily scheduled for the fall, which could result in the most action-packed sports calendar imaginable.

  • Yes, but: As much as we'd love to believe a sports wonderland awaits us in the fall, experts warn that the second wave of this virus will likely hit right in the heart of that season.

The backdrop: We need only look back 100 years, to the influenza pandemic of 1918, for the exact playbook of how this could occur.

  • When infections decreased over the summer months, it seemed safe to host large gatherings like the World Series and various parades celebrating the end of World War I. But right around that time, the virus came back with a vengeance.

What they're saying: "Second waves are inevitable in pandemics when you don't have a vaccine," Carlos Del Rio, who chaired the panel that guided the NCAA to shutting down sports this spring, told the Wall Street Journal.

  • "Any disease when you have an epidemic, when you loosen up prevention, you'll have a second wave."

The state of play: This last point bears out the paradoxical nature surrounding our current predicament. Whether due to social distancing efforts or summer weather, infection rates will eventually go down. But this early in the pandemic's cycle, that reality might act as a false positive of sorts.

The bottom line: Ultimately, one of the hardest things to cope with right now is the uncertainty of when it will end, which makes plans to restart leagues nebulous at best.

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