It’s difficult to avoid the impression that – in what (nobody needs reminding) has been something of a strange a disconcerting world these past eighteen months – the “crazy” factor has recently gone up several notches in the UK as both world sport – not least football, particularly the Euro 2020/2021 tournament, tennis (Wimbledon), rugby union (the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa) and the Tokyo Olympics – and the nation generally (nervously moving out of lockdown) attempt to return to something like normality “as it was before”.
Even in my own family there are widely divergent views about the Covid-19 pandemic – the performances of different countries in dealing with it, the intentions behind some of the measures taken by governments around the world, the “safety” of vaccination at all (let alone of the different vaccinations being administered to the public) etc. – just as there are in the medical/scientific community and the world of politics.
My son Barry, who works abroad, arrived back in the UK last week on one of his rare visits to Blighty, since when we’ve had some “interesting” discussions.
For me, he seems close to a “conspiracy theorist” in that he believes there’s a whole lot of unnecessary scaremongering by governments going on (for as yet unknown reasons), the extent of the threat to public health is greatly exaggerated and, as we approach our 19th July “let out”, in reality there is very little likelihood of another surge in Covid positive results despite what some academics are claiming.
When he arrived in the UK, because of work having had no previous opportunity to get a jab, he had booked himself a first one at a local walk-in centre.
Upon returning home he was fuming. He’d asked for an Astrazeneca vaccination – was told that he couldn’t have one, only a Pfizer version – and, having had that, gave me a ten-minute lecture about how the Pfizer drug hadn’t yet been tested or authenticated properly by the authorities and its true side effects and implications therefore remained unknown.
Seeking to avoid family discord I kept to myself my reaction that he was spouting baloney. I’m no fanatical support of government generally, still less Boris’s, but as far as I’m concerned there’s no way that our lords and masters ever would initiate a vaccination scheme involving untested or “suspect” versions.
Okay, before the pandemic new drugs for human consumption normally took a decade or more to gain approval for supply to the public, but in the context of a virus pandemic “needs must” and, whilst yes, the vaccinations now being jabbed into Brits had reached approval stage in months not years, that doesn’t mean that any “accreditation” procedures were avoided or short-circuited.
Like a fellow contributor to this organ, I am content to identify myself as a “Euros 2020/2021” free zone.
I have seen only brief snatches of game highlights on the news and have followed England’s progress to the Final largely via reports on the sports pages and – in terms of the growing mass hysteria and hyperbole amongst the general population – on the front pages and/or “opinion” pieces by scribes who hitherto have shown scant interest in sport (period), never mind football.
As regards the return (or continuation) of sport generally, I am under-whelmed.
In my view, at elite level, the prospect of any sport going ahead without mass crowds is akin to attending a three-course roast lunch (plus all the trimmings) without the meat.
To my mind, the notion of holding an Olympics without crowds (just for the sake of it) is a ridiculous waste of time.
Even the Japanese host nation – which has just announced there will be no crowds at events – is admitting its misgivings about the project with barely more than a fortnight to go until the opening ceremony.
Elsewhere the Lions tour to South Africa has rapidly descended into the chaotic mess it was always going to be in a country where the virus remains a major issue – and in my view a Lions tour without its traditional legion of travelling UK/Irish fans was and is pointless.
There have been outbreaks of Covid in the both the touring and Springbok squads and two scheduled Lions games have had to be cancelled because of outbreaks amongst their opponents, as has a South Africa warm-up Test Match against Georgia.
Yesterday (apparently) the nonsensical idea of even taking the entire Lions v South Africa Test series back to the UK was being seriously considered.