2020 has been a turbulent year for sport. The presence of coronavirus and resulting restrictions has meant that many spectator sporting events have had to take place behind closed doors, with only media, officials and coaching staff present.
But it’s also had a significant impact on training too. Many athletes and sports teams have had to modify their methods to ensure they’re COVID-safe - which has included regular testing for athletes and staff.
With a World Heavyweight title defence due to take place on December 12th, Anthony Joshua has been training throughout the recent lockdown restrictions, and his team have been making use of Treated.com’s coronavirus testing service to facilitate his schedule.
Before the big event on Saturday, we caught up with the World Champion to see how he’s been doing things differently this time around:
How has it been training during the coronavirus pandemic? Has it affected how you train, and have you had to do anything differently?
'This has been such a challenging time for everyone, in every walk of life and profession but lucky for me training has not really been affected, everything we have done has been near enough the same. It has of course caused challenges with frequent testing and traveling for overseas sparring partners but these are obstacles we were able to overcome.'
How often do you and your trainers need to get tested? Has it been challenging getting tested this often, and if so, how has your team handled it?
'The team at Treated.com have helped test the whole team on a weekly basis. We then tested anyone who needed to come into our camp bubble. The process was effortless with the self administrative tests.'
Has the pandemic had much of an effect on your life outside training? Are you spending your free time differently, or has lockdown been an ideal time for you to get even more training in?
'It has given me the opportunity to slow down and spent time with my family which is a positive. I spent the time working on new things in the gym and was able to come into this camp already fit and ready.'
Do you think the buzz leading up to the fight has been different this time, because of coronavirus?
'It has certainly been very different in the build up. I do hope though that the fight is a good opportunity to bring some entertainment for the people who have been in lockdown all year and provide a pre Christmas treat for everyone.'
Training in a COVID-safe environment
While the way we consume sport has been greatly affected by the pandemic, so too has the way athletes and teams train.
To keep athletes and coaching teams safe, preventative measures against COVID, as well as regular testing, have become mainstays across sport.
A Coronavirus PCR test, which involves an oral and nasal swab, was developed relatively quickly earlier on in the year. It became available through Treated.com in Spring, and can detect cases with a high level of accuracy. Because COVID-19 is often asymptomatic, particularly among younger adults, it’s become an important fixture in limiting the spread of disease in sport (and in society in general).
Despite this, as we’ve seen week in week out in sports like football, the virus has managed to penetrate even these secured environments - high profile athletes have tested positive for the virus, and been subject to self-isolation requirements.
To ensure that you limit the spread of the virus, it's imperative to stay indoors and avoid contact with others if you do test positive, or develop coronavirus symptoms such as a persistent cough or fever.
Keeping focus during lockdown
Observing restrictions to help reduce the spread of coronavirus has meant not being able to go out and do the things we normally do. Many outlets we have for recreation, such as restaurants, cinemas and gyms, have been required to close. So for the great majority of us, 2020 has been a quiet year socially.
Understandably, this lack of human contact has proved difficult for many. Without the capacity to spend time around our extended network of friends and family, some have turned to new activities as a distraction. It’s no secret that exercise is a great way to maintain good mental wellbeing. But with gyms closed, many of us may have had to find new or inventive ways to keep fit.
In many parts of the country last week gyms reopened. It's crucial to make sure you follow the safety measures put in place - such as following a one-way system and sanitising equipment after use - to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Fan attendance and the pandemic
We know that the virus can easily be transmitted through aerosol droplets, between people in close proximity. This makes crowd events high risk for infection, particularly when held indoors.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to escalate in the UK in March, the sporting world was effectively put on hold. Team sports like football and rugby went on hiatus, with footballing seasons eventually being curtailed.
Originally billed to take place at Wembley Arena in front of 60,000 fans in June, the Joshua-Pulev contest was postponed.
However a week ago, new tiered restrictions came into force in England, which allowed spectators in certain areas to attend sporting events, including football matches - provided they remain seated a safe distance apart.
This has meant that the Joshua-Pulev confrontation, taking place this Saturday, will be seen by 1,000 spectators.
If you are attending a sporting event, again, it's vital to follow the measures in place. Keep a safe distance from others and wear a mask in indoor settings, and at any other point specific by the event organisers. And if you've got a cough or a fever, give the match a miss - stay at home and, if possible, watch it online instead.
Read more about coronavirus testing for organisations.