Fears of long term Covid-19 damage in sports

Blaise Matuidi of Juventus tested positive for Covid-19. / Nicolò Campo/ Getty Images)
Blaise Matuidi of Juventus tested positive for Covid-19. / Nicolò Campo/ Getty Images)

With a handful of professional athletes having tested positive for the coronavirus, it remains to be seen whether these sportsmen and sportswomen will ever perform at their optimum post-recovery.

Athletes around the world who have tested positive for Covid-19 include basketball stars Kevin Durant, Donavan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Marcus Smart, while footballers Daniel Maldini of AC Milan, Blaise Matuidi of Juventus and former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini are also on the list.

Many health professionals have described the coronavirus as a pneumonia-like disease that attacks the lungs.

It is not yet known what long-term effect it will have on the performance of athletes who tested positive.

PSL head of medical Lervasen Pillay conceded that more research needed to be done on the effects of the virus on athletes.

"The coronavirus effects the lungs and in extreme cases it can cause serious lung damage or even death, as we have seen," Pillay told Sowetan.

"Further studies need to be made on the effects the virus will have on athletes who have recovered from the virus. At this point in time we do not know what effect it will have on their performance."

Fortunately, there are no footballers in the PSL or active athletes in South African sport who have contracted the virus. Like most citizens, professional athletes have been at home under the lockdown regulations.

Pillay said the aim of the PSL was to try to avoid having any of the players get infected.

"As you will know, this virus is very contagious and spreads easily from one person to the next. What we have tried to do is to educate the clubs to try to reduce the risk of having infections to the players," he said.

PSL games will remain suspended until at least April 16 when the lockdown is expected to end.

Some athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus

Football: German Pezzella, Patrick Cutrone, Dusan Vlahovic (all Fiorentina), Fabio Depaoli (Sampdoria), Daniele Rugani, Blaise Matuidi, Paulo Dybala (all Juventus), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Ezequiel Garay (Valencia), Daniel Maldini (AC Milan)

NBA: Kevin Durant, Donavan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Marcus Smart.

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