Sports, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

'No long-term harm to athletes with mild coronavirus'

Mild symptoms not expected to seriously damage professional athletes' lung capacity after recovery, says Turkish doctor

Can Erozden   | 07.04.2020
'No long-term harm to athletes with mild coronavirus'


After recovery from a mild case of coronavirus, professional athletes should not face any major harm to their lungs, according to a Turkish physician.

"Considering how most athletes are younger than 30 or 40, and they have mild symptoms, we can project that this disease largely won’t impact their careers," Dr. Bahadir Ceylan, an infectious disease specialist at Medipol Mega University Hospital in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency.

However Ceylan said that even though older people face the greatest risk from coronavirus, even young people age 20 or 30 could face mortal danger depending on the severity of this disease.

"Heavy or mild, the virus affects the lungs," said Ceylan.

Respiratory tract infections

Ceylan said that in some severe cases – such as severe pneumonia – patients may face a loss of function in their lungs due to widespread inflammation, and people who have acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) should be taken to intensive care units for treatment.

He added that the mortality rate of some ARDS cases is around 50%.

"Even if these patients recover, they are very likely to suffer permanent loss of function in their lungs," he said.

His predictions are based on similar infectious disease, he said, as the novel coronavirus appeared just four months ago and research into it is still ongoing.

Coronavirus is like other respiratory tract infection diseases, and its effects vary from person to person, with some facing only mild symptoms, he said.

Others suffer it severely, as the infection may affect a large area of the lungs, and these patients may face serious lung problems and sometimes need mechanical ventilation to breathe.

Sports on hold

COVID-19 has disrupted sports events around the globe.

Almost all sports leagues and tournaments worldwide such as the NBA and NHL in the U.S., UEFA football competitions in Europe, and Formula 1’s 2020 season were suspended in response to the pandemic.

Professional athletes had to go into self-isolation, doing workouts at home to stay fit, as the seasons in almost every branch of sports were put on hold.

On March 17, European football's governing body UEFA postponed the EURO 2020 for one year.

Another major sports event of the year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was postponed for a year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 24 for the same reason.

On April 1, Wimbledon, one of the most popular tournaments of the annual tennis calendar, was postponed until next summer.

Impact on athletes

Many famed athletes have also tested positive for COVID-19, including basketball players in the U.S. such as Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and the Detroit Pistons’ Christian Wood, along with Juventus football club players Daniele Rugani, Paulo Dybala, and Blaise Matuidi, and former Olympic swimming champ Cameron Van der Burgh.

On March 27, Gobert and Mitchell were cleared of COVID-19.

Before the Jazz pair, on March 26 Wood recovered from the coronavirus to become the first NBA player to be cleared of the virus.

"The four Brooklyn Nets players who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), including star Kevin Durant, are symptom-free," USA Today reported on April 1.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.

Over 1.34 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the global death toll nearing 75,000, and almost 285,000 recoveries.

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