Culture and Lifestyle

COVID-19 Vaccine: Yearnings, Hope for Entertainment, Sports in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic took the entire world by storm. Many did not envision 2020 with any “fault”, let alone the taint of a pandemic. Countries across the world have continued to struggle with the rippling effect of the pandemic.

The emergence of the novel coronavirus did not only catch many unawares, it offset a number of things from normal activities of daily life to impact on several sectors of the economy. So encompassing was COVID-19 that it did not leave any sector in extrication. The entertainment industry was one of the biggest hit of the COVID-19.

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Big players in the entertainment scene have lamented the impact of the pandemic on the market. Veteran Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo, while speaking on national TV on the impact of the pandemic on the movie industry, noted that entertainment is a “profession that dwells more on interaction.” He stated that if there was anything that will inhibit interaction, entertainment will be the first hit, because “even in the production of the movies, we just cannot be socially distanced.”

The coronavirus no doubt affected the industry’s ability to earn. Ubi Franklin, group founder of Made Men Music (MMM), while speaking on the same show opined that the pandemic affected the revenue of the music industry revenue, 80% of which comes from shows now restricted following the impositions of different COVID-19 measures.

He cited the impact of the pandemic on individual artistes’ overall build-up. According to him, “entertainment is like communication. You see, you feel and you touch. An artiste will not feel the same if he cannot perform on stage the way he can touch his fans. An artiste does not feel the same if he cannot go out or travel to a country and be received by his fans or the events promoters and he takes pictures with them and interacts with them, feels that connectivity with the fans.”

He further noted the inconsistencies of virtual presence. According to him, “We can see by going on the internet, to make sure that people can see us and we can connect with them, but we cannot touch them. We cannot feel them and much of entertainment thrives on social interaction on stage “.

In the area of sports, football is regarded as one of the highest paying sporting events. It is one of the biggest highlights as far as the impact of the global pandemic on sports entertainment is concerned. The game’s marketability relies strongly on the presence of teeming fans. The global soccer industry has been massively affected by the absence of fans on the stands, no thanks to the pandemic. Even football-related businesses (like the betting companies) have recorded significant shortfalls following the pandemic. Top football teams like Barcelona constantly decried the impact on their overall income, thereby resorting to the last option of applying a slash in the salaries of players to cushion the effect.

No time was the yearning for entertainment more eminent than when the entire world was placed on lockdown following imposed measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed thousands of life. The entire world was not only bored at the time, it needed something to distract it from the harsh realities of the COVID-19 situation. This explains why streaming platforms like YouTube, Apple Music, Audiomack, Boomplay, amongst others, experienced an exponential number of (new) subscribers and an overwhelming increase in the use of the platforms. Virtual presence as well became the thing. A significant number of Award Organizers were forced to make do with the virtual option.

All of these as aforementioned do not omit the peculiarities of experiential reality, as well as the clamour from fans, all of which revivifies the entertainment process. This further explains why even in the middle of imposed lockdown measures and other COVID-19 protocols, certain organizers were forced to do shows against COVID-19 protocols, with fans in attendance. This has led to the arrest and indictment of such popular celebrities like Funke Akindele, Naira Marley, Omah Lay, and Tems. Even in the UK, Rita Ora was arrested by Metropolitan Officers in London after flouting COVID-19 protocols by hosting a party to celebrate her 30th birthday with fans.

Even so, the yuletide season which is characteristic of various forms of entertainment in concerts, shows, events, amongst others, took an entirely different shape in the year, especially in Nigeria where the new COVID-19 guidelines places a ban on such fanfare.

The announcement in the breakthrough of a COVID-19 vaccine has nonetheless raised hopes and upshot the yearnings felt by many for a change to all of these in the new year, especially with the vaccine recording immense success so far. At least a million Americans have been vaccinated already.

Following the success of the vaccine and emphasis by top dignitaries and stakeholders for a need to get it to every corner of the world, irrespective of political ranking/influence, many have expressed hope that things will get back to normal soon. In Nigeria, many citizens are hopeful especially when preparations for the acquisition of the vaccine has been announced. Some have said that they can’t wait for all these to end in the new year so they can go watch that football match live, attend shows and concerts of their favourite musicians, as well as events of their celebrity idols. Others have also expressed yearnings for the new year for normal things of life such as going out without the consciousness of the imposed guidelines or the razzmatazz of Taskforce.

Reports of new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 however is trying to cast shadows on these yearnings and hopes ahead of the new year. With reports of the new COVID-19 strain causing havoc in Europe, and now detected in 16 countries, it looks like the new year may not be any different from what was witnessed in 2020.

The countries where the virus was found include Japan, Sweden, South Africa, Nigeria, France, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Lebanon, and Singapore. The report of new variants has led some countries to close their borders and tighten their travel restrictions. There are concerns however as to the effectiveness of the restrictions as the virus seems to have slipped across the borders long before it was discovered. The soothing news from scientist now is that the impact of the vaccine on the new variants are the same as the old one

Even though the question of how soon bedevils the aspirations, including the looming presence of new COVID-19 variants, there are hopes that things can only get better in 2021.

Nelson Okoh

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