London, JUNE 1, 2020 (AG): Covid-19 has taken a toll on everything globally and sports is no exception to it. This pandemic could change the entire sports industry in such a way that it is unimaginable.

Major international sporting events including the Summer Olympics in Tokyo has been postponed and many events have been canceled.

Fans and sportspersons are equally disappointed in losing their favorite matches and championships. Loss of playing days and missed championships has cost sportsmen heavily on their earnings.

As such, the average earnings of the world’s top athletes dropped for the first time in four years according to the 2020 Forbes ranking.

According to Forbes ‘The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $3.6 billion this year, which is 9% below 2019 and the first decline since 2016”.

Only two Africans in the top 100

Tennis legend Roger Federer took the top spot for the first time, with $106 million of pre-tax earnings, pushing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the second and third spots respectively.

Federer has the best endorsement portfolio in sports and is the first tennis player in the history of Forbes since it started tracking athletes’ earnings three decades ago.  His off the court earnings has been estimated at $100 million.

Liverpool star and Egyptian star Mohamed Salah is the only African footballer in the top 50 of the Forbes 2020 ‘Highest paid athletes in the World’.

At number 34- In spite of his lost matches- his earnings including endorsements stand at $35.1 million.

The other African on the list, as last year, is Basketball great Joel Embiid from Cameroon.

Athletes from 21 countries and 10 sports made the final cut this year.

Tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are the two women who had made it to the top 100. The last time the list had two women was in 2016 when Maria Sharapova along with Serena made the cut.

Loss in taxes

Cities and states have lost significant revenue due to the cancellation of sporting events, by way of income tax, sales tax et al which indirectly affects local development activities.

Sports industry pundits say around $160 billion has been lost in the current year due to cancellation or sports events. No events mean no coverage and no coverage means no revenue.

With the India-South Africa cricket series scheduled this year being abandoned both the Nations’ cricket boards have lost revenue.

Coronavirus playing a hardball game, its outcome, and the irreversible damage it could cause to the sporting can’t be predicted.

BY  Siva Parameswaran , World News Editor