The positive from Sergio Busquets has altered the preparation of Spain on the eve of the European Championship, which in this edition will be played from end to end of Europe, but without the festive air that was anticipated when the tournament was designed. If the gestation was intended to send the optimistic message of a united continent despite the obvious differences and political tensions, its crystallization represents a compendium of problems, one of them unheard of: the pandemic caused by an unknown coronavirus until 18 months ago.
Caught with pins, the Eurocup will be held a year later than planned, in better circumstances than in 2020, but still in a serious epidemiological situation. Vaccination is progressing apace, but the virus is just as present as it was in the worst times of the crisis. You don’t have to look far to see. Busquets has been infected during the concentration of the Spanish team and Jon Rahm, who arrived vaccinated, had to leave The Memorial tournament when he was leading the classification.
Vaccination clears the picture, but does not clear all the uncertainties. The controversy reaches the national team, which has not benefited from the vaccine, unlike the Olympic delegation that will participate in the Tokyo Games. The request of the Spanish Football Federation did not receive the urgent plea of the Government, which did respond to the request of the Spanish Olympic Committee regarding the equipment and personnel that will travel to Japan.
The debate around covid-19, its consequences and public policies to contain the pandemic does not cease. The national team feels harmed by a situation that prevents it from properly preparing for the tournament, a deficit that in its best version would refer to that Denmark that jumped from the beach to the grass and won Euro 92. The fear of a repeat of the Fuenlabrada case – the The progressive chain of infected in the Madrid club originated a demonic conflict on the last day of the 2019-20 season in Segunda— hovering over the Spanish and Portuguese teams. It is the reasonable fear of the unknown from which no one will escape at the next European Championship, or at the Tokyo Games.
Busquets and Jon Rahm serve as a warning to sailors. One was infected without being vaccinated, the other was infected despite being vaccinated. The coronavirus insists on producing this kind of indecipherable equations, which are especially visible in sports. Both the European Championship and the Tokyo Games will be held in unhealthy conditions, but their cancellation would open a bottomless hole in the accounts of UEFA and the IOC, so economic pragmatism will prevail.
The difficulties will be accentuated in the Tokyo Games, which have taken 30,000 million euros from the Japanese economy. Suspended last year, public opinion has turned its position on an event that has paid off huge profits in the past. In 1964, the Tokyo Games, held 19 years after the end of World War II, staged the rise of Japan as a new great industrial and economic power. Right now, its citizens – 70% of the population, according to polls – fear that the Games will turn into pandemonium.
Although the presence of foreign spectators will not be allowed in the competitions and the IOC ensures that most athletes will receive vaccines and will be subjected to a strict closure regime in the Olympic Village, the Japanese fear that the Games will act as a super spread in a city which is still in a state of emergency and in a country that has only vaccinated 5% of its population. Ultimately, they feel that covid-19 is ladino by nature and that the effect of any Busquets or any Rahm overflows the Olympic bubble and reaches all of Japan.