Reading time is 7 mins


We’ve been fighting the pandemic for 1.5 years. The entire world has almost declared mobilization for vaccination and taking measures against the virus. However, we still have not managed to return to our old normal, and there is no clear consensus on who and how the virus affects. One of the most debated issues is whether regular sports provide any protection against Covid or create a lack of resistance. In particular, the fact that athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics were infected with the virus has deconstructed the relationship between sports and the virus.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by a year and eagerly awaited, nevertheless began in the shadow of the pandemic. The virus, which increases its contagion with different variants, caused the Olympics to start first without spectators and now withdrew athletes who tested positive.

The Olympics finally kicked off after more than a year, but with COVID-19 spreading uncontrollably in Japan, organizers had to take unprecedented steps to keep competitors and the public safe. Despite this, the dreams of athletes infected with the corona virus fell into the water.

Five athletes from the United States, six from the Czech Republic, three from Great Britain, and two from South Africa had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics


Tokyo is in exceptional condition, recording its highest daily number of new covid-19 infections in six months, while many in Japan, like public health experts around the world, opposed the country’s decision to go ahead with the Olympics.

Guinea, the African nation that plans to send five athletes to Tokyo, has announced it will not participate in the Olympics “due to the resurgence of covid variants.” World Health Organization Director, addressing the International Olympic Committee, acknowledged there will be cases of COVID at the games. “Identifying, isolating, monitoring, dealing with and stopping the contagion of any case as quickly as possible will be key to success,” he said in a statement.

The WHO chief stressed the importance of vaccines, estimating that 100,000 more people will die from Covid before the Olympic torch goes out on August 8.

On Monday, Toyota, the country’s largest carmaker, announced it would not air any television ads in Japan related to the Olympics and that company executives would not attend the opening ceremony.

The same day, news broke that a person from the U.S. women’s gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19 just four days before the Games began. U.S. officials said the gymnast tested positive while training in Narita, about 35 miles east of Tokyo, on Sunday. The gymnast and another person on the team were quarantined, NBC News reported. “Out of respect for the privacy of the individual, we are unable to provide further information at this time, “the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.

The gymnast was said to have tested positive after arriving in Japan, but it was also revealed that there have been at least a dozen new cases linked to the games since Sunday.


Along with the Olympics, a number of questions about how the effects of the virus appear in athletes, as well as the course of the disease, have also been raised again. This again revealed that despite the nearly year and a half of the pandemic process, there are still many unknown questions about the virus. Some of these are also related to the effects of sports. Are those who play sports less infected; or does sports reduce resistance to the virus? How did athletes who survived the disease combat the long-term effects of Covid?

In this process, stories of athletes who fought in different sports and were diagnosed with COVID were also frequently raised.


Jayson Tatum admits he has a fitness problem even though he’s back on the field.

Mohammed Bamba of the Orlando Magic and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics are the two NBA players who have to battle COVID. Bamba, known for his smash-blocking ability, was diagnosed with the virus on June 11, 2020, and even after nearly six months of his recovery, he still wasn’t feeling well. Bamba, decked out as a 2021 NBA All-Star, played just 16 games for the Magic.

Like many, Bamba had first lost his senses when infected: the inability to taste and smell. He also dealt with fatigue and November muscle pain. His condition is still not exactly what it used to be.

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum also failed to perform fully after the virus. Tatum had to fight the virus for more than two weeks after becoming infected on January 9.

Tatum admits he has a fitness problem even though he is back on the field: “when I run on the field a few times, I get breathless or I get tired a lot faster. I’ve noticed that since I became COVID. It’s just something I’ve been working on this. I’ve been better since the first game I played but I still deal with it from time to time.”


The fact that each successful athlete struggled with the virus and had difficulty achieving their former fitness also raised suspicions that sports did not have as protective an effect against the virus as thought. But research has shown that physical activity, in fighting the disease, reduces the risk of hospitalization and death.

People who are less physically active are more likely to be hospitalized and die with COVID-19, a new study in the US shows. According to these new calculations, being sedentary puts people at greater risk for COVID-19.


In the study, people were asked how much exercise they did over the two-year period before the pandemic. Using this information, people were divided into three groups. The first group, described as “permanently sedentary,” did not exercise for more than 10 minutes a week. The second group was described as “those who did a bit of activity,” exercising for between 11 minutes and 149 minutes a week. The third group was divided into those who “consistently engaged in physical activity”, exercising for 150 minutes or more per week. Exercises were defined as moderate to strenuous activity.

Compared to people who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week, people who were constantly sedentary were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized and die due to COVID-19.


January October 2020 data from nearly 50,000 people with COVID-19 was used in the study. But the researchers also note that there are some mixers in the study. And they try to sum up the situation with a classic example of a stirrer, such as the relationship between murder and ice cream. It is noted that murders have increased and decreased in parallel with ice cream sales. But no one thinks that ice cream leads to murder, or that they are more likely to eat ice cream after committing murder. The truth of the event; ice cream sales are higher when the weather is hot, and murders are also rising in high temperatures.

When we consider the relationship between COVID-19 results and physical activity, it is also emphasized that the possible deceptions are almost infinite. Long-term health conditions such as diabetes increase the risk of COVID-19 and can make it difficult to exercise. Although the researchers of the study try to calculate this condition, they note that it is quite difficult to fully control it.

It is also noted that socioeconomic factors also play a role. In short, many behavioral and environmental factors are linked, including diet, weight, alcohol and drug use, and physical activity. It is extremely difficult to separate the influence of one from the other.


Despite these limitations, the study says that being more active improves health and reduces the risk of developing the disease. And the World Health Organization also says that some physical activity is better at being than not at all. At the same time, he stresses that time spent sitting or lying down should be reduced.

Another study, published in Science Direct, analyzes death rates in physical activity and COVID-19 cases in U.S. states. The study decries the relationship between the physical activities of 100,000 County residents and corona virus disease.

The analyses show that physical activity rates soften the decoupling between cases and deaths, and that the relationship is strong when physical activity rates are low.


Another study, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States, assesses some risk factors such as unhealthy eating, obesity, and physical inactivity in patients infected with COVID-19, as well as their impact on disease severity and duration.

March-April 2020 the research uses data from all patients admitted to University Hospital’s respiratory emergency department. The study analyzed data from 206 patients. The results revealed that patients with lower levels of physical activity were more severely affected by the disease.

According to the study, increased levels of physical activity may partially reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease. It was also found that increased fruit and poultry consumption, as well as some diets, such as drinking less tea, were significantly associated with a less severe form of the disease.


In a controlled study involving 36 women, the risk of upper respiratory tract infection decreased during moderate exercise.

In addition, another study, which tracked 1002 adults for 12 weeks during the winter and autumn seasons, found that the level of physical fitness and frequency of aerobic workouts per week were quite important and were also associated with a decrease and duration of upper respiratory tract infection.

Overall, in line with the studies mentioned earlier, the current results found a significant association between physical activity and decreased disease severity among decid-19 patients decidedly. But a statistically significant association between moderate to high physical activity and the duration of signs and symptoms was not observed.


Follow me
President of Organ Transplant Center at MedicalPark Hospital Antalya

Turkey's world-renowned organ transplant specialist. Dr. Demirbaş has 104 international publications and 102 national publications.

Physician's Resume:

Born on August 7, 1963 in Çorum, Prof. Dr. Alper Demirbaş has been continuing his work as the President of MedicalPark Antalya Hospital Organ Transplantation Center since 2008.

Prof. who performed the first tissue incompatible kidney transplant in Turkey, the first blood type incompatible kidney transplant, the first kidney-pancreas transplant program and the first cadaveric donor and live donor liver transplant in Antalya. Dr. As of August 2016, Alper Demirbaş has performed 4900 kidney transplants, 500 liver transplants and 95 pancreas transplants.

In addition to being the chairman of 6 national congresses, he has also been an invited speaker at 12 international and 65 national scientific congresses. Dr. Alper Demirbaş was married and the father of 1 girl and 1 boy.


Eczacibasi Medical Award of 2002, Akdeniz University Service Award of 2005, Izder Medical Man of the Year Award of 2006, BÖHAK Medical Man of the Year Award of 2007, Sabah Mediterranean Newspaper Scientist of the Year Award of 2007, ANTIKAD Scientist of the Year Award of 2009, Social Ethics Association Award of 2010, Işık University Medical Man of the Year Award of 2015, VTV Antalya's Brand Value Award of 2015.


Doctor of Medicine Degree Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine Ankara, General Surgeon Ministry of Health Turkey EKFMG (0-477-343-8), University of Miami School of Medicine Member of Multiple Organ Transplant, ASTS Multiorgan Transplant Scholarship. Lecturer at Kyoto University. Lecturer at University of Essen, Research assistant at the University of Cambridge .

Professional Members:

American Society of Transplant Surgeons, American Transplantation Society Nominated, Middle East and Southern Africa Council Transplantation Society 2007, International Liver Transplantation Association, Turkish Transplantation Association, Turkish Society of Surgery, Turkish Hepatobiliary Surgery Association.


Our website contents consist of articles approved by our Web and Medical Editorial Board with the contributions of our physicians. Our contents are prepared only for informational purposes for public benefit. Be sure to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Medically Reviewed by Professor Doctor Alper Demirbaş
Follow me