A hopeless future
The author is a freelance journalist.
The recent rise in coronavirus cases across the world has shattered the chances of economic recovery that millions have been desperately waiting for. Europe and the United States – the economic engines of the world – have seen a phenomenal spike in Covid cases in recent weeks. China is also seeing a resurgence of the virus, and countries in the Global South are not immune to the catastrophic onslaught of Covid-19 either.
The ever-evolving variants of the virus continue to haunt health experts around the world. The death toll is rising in many countries, forcing some of them to take extreme measures in addition to creating fears about the possible postponement of several global events that have the potential to attract billions of dollars. If the situation does not improve, it could affect the Winter Olympics or Beijing 2022 which is scheduled for February 4-20 in China. The country has invested huge sums of money to make the event a success.
According to a ‘CNBC’ report from Dec. 24, China has taken a number of steps over the years to facilitate the event in hopes that it would generate a lot of economic activity. He added: “Since 2015, when it was announced that Beijing and its surrounding cities would be the hosts in 2022, the Chinese government has been pushing for the development of winter sports. Some incentives include granting tax exemptions and improving access to resources, as it hopes to attract 300 million people by 2022.”
The report noted that by the end of last year, the area developed for ski resorts in Zhangjiakou had 169 routes spanning 162 kilometers and more than 10,000 pieces of equipment available for rental. Combined, the seven ski resorts in one city can now accommodate more than 50,000 people a day, the report found citing municipal government reports.
These efforts on the part of the Chinese government appear to have some benefits. For example, the same report notes that the number of visitors to Chinese ski resorts tripled from 5.5 million in 2009 to 15.1 million in 2016, but that was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with the rise in coronavirus cases in several parts of the world, it is uncertain whether China can safely hold the event amid the devastating pandemic.
If the situation does not change drastically in the coming months, similar questions will also arise over the FIFA World Cup scheduled for later this year in Qatar. It is not just a sporting event but also a giant economic activity that has the potential to generate billions of dollars in addition to boosting swaths of the global economy. The event which is expected to take place in five cities has reportedly already attracted around $200 billion in arrangements, with Qatar planning to host 1.5 million football fans during the event. The event is expected to bring around $20 billion to its economy and boost the airline and hospitality industries as well as a number of other sectors globally, helping to revitalize an economy. dying world. But with the spike in new coronavirus cases, those hopes seem to be evaporating.
China had big plans for the promotion of sports in the country, aiming to make it a $773 billion industry by 2025. The main goal of investing in the sports industry was to create more jobs and attract investment. According to Front Office Sports, a website dealing with sports, the giant country planned to increase the number of people participating in regular physical activities to 38.5 by 2025, launching plans to ensure that every community has equipment and to build and renovate more than 2000 stadiums, sports parks and fitness centers. The plan also called for the employment of three million people as fitness trainers. The website claimed that Chinese sneaker makers and other sports-related companies saw their shares rise after the release of the targets.
It is estimated that if Beijing’s targets are met by 2025, the sports industry would total 3.3% of Chinese GDP, up from 2.5% in 2015. But new Covid-19 cases and the panic that they seem to have created could dash those hopes. . China’s strenuous efforts have effectively contained the virus, but the most recent resurgence indicates that the virus would continue to threaten the country’s economic ambition at all times until the virus is globally eliminated.
It is not only these two events or countries where the indications clearly show that the pandemic still threatens the economies and the incipient economic recovery, but the situation is not rosy also in other places, forcing the IMF to present perspectives gloomy economics. It seems that the emergence of new variants of the virus has created more problems for full recovery. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva also expressed concern over the situation. Speaking to a Reuters event last month, Georgieva said: “A new variant that can spread very quickly can shake confidence and in that sense we are likely to see some downward revisions to our October projections. for global growth.”
Despite all the horrors of the pandemic, there does not appear to be a coordinated effort by advanced capitalist countries to eradicate the virus. They seem to naively believe that if he is eliminated from the advanced world, it will be over. But only a global elimination of the virus will be effective, raising hopes for the economic recovery that seems to be a dream for the moment. Northern countries are not ready to cooperate with southern states to eradicate the virus. The North is more interested in distributing multiple doses to its own citizens when the mass majority in the world doesn’t even have a single dose yet. More than 4.72 billion people worldwide, or about 61.5% of the world’s population, have received a single dose of Covid-19 vaccines. The number of fully immunized people is even lower, with some estimates suggesting that only 51% of the world’s population is fully immunized, the majority of which are in developed countries.
The global supply chain cannot be managed effectively if a majority of people are left at the mercy of the deadly virus. Developed countries must act responsibly and abandon vaccine policy. Vaccine nationalism will be destructive not only to their own country, but also to the global economy, on which they heavily depend. It is prudent to make coordinated efforts to eliminate this deadly virus, which cannot be done by immunizing 50, 60 or even 90% of the world’s population. Unless the elimination is global, it won’t work.
The virus’s pernicious tentacles seem to be gripping the world again. Even after killing more than 5.54 million people, in addition to affecting more than 328 million, the contagious virus still seems to be out of control. The pandemic has already caused a loss of more than four to eight trillion dollars to the global economy in addition to pushing more than 100 million people into poverty.
Some experts estimate that more than half a billion people were pushed into poverty in 2020 as they paid for healthcare costs out of their own pockets. The IMF chief also admitted that one of the factors contributing to the slow recovery is the uneven distribution of vaccines. The situation could only be resolved effectively by vaccinating the countries of the South, which are home to a significant part of the world’s workforce, on a war footing.