Sport has a key role in the growth of the economy and society. In fact, the sport has a widely accepted function in governments, as can be seen in the 2030 Agenda Political Declaration, which highlights the importance sports play in women’s empowerment, as well as youth, individual, and community empowerment.

As of now, almost all nations across the globe have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to lockdowns of companies, schools, and other forms of social life to control the spread of the illness, many normal elements of living, such as sport and physical exercise, have been adversely affected.  


Many high-profile sports events have been postponed or canceled, ranging from marathons to football tournaments, to track and field meets, to the Olympic Games, to basketball games, to handball, to ice hockey, to rugby, to cricket, to sailing, to skiing, to weightlifting, and many more. For the very first period in the recorded history of the modern Olympic Games, the Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed and took place this year in 2021.

Sport has a worldwide worth of about USD756 billion USD per year. Based on the results of COVID-19, over two million jobs worldwide are furnished by the sports sector. These jobs do not include merely athletes but also include the individuals who work in associated retail and sports services sectors that are tied to leagues and tournaments, which will be threatened. 


Many of the world’s leading sporting organizations have engaged in advertising and campaigns that were intended to be public service announcements against the virus. FIFA and the World Health Organization (WHO) have teamed up to launch a ‘Pass the message to stop the spread of coronavirus‘ campaign. There are also worldwide organizations dedicated to using sport as a tool for international development and peace, such as groups that have created open online forums where members may provide one other assistance through difficult times. Individuals in online discussions have also looked for creative answers to broader societal concerns, such as how sports organizations may help people who are disadvantaged because of limited mobility.

Many education institutions around the world, including schools, universities, and other institutions, have been closed due to COVID-19. It is this closure that has also had an impact on the sports education sector, which is comprised of many stakeholders, including national ministries, local authorities, public and private education institutions, sports organizations, athletes, NGOs, and businesses, including teachers, scholars, and coaches. It is also crucial that this community plays a large role in responding to and combating the present crisis, as well as promoting social equity and personal values in times of social disassociation.


The Federal Government of the United States and intergovernmental organizations across the globe may assist sports federations, clubs, and organizations in setting international norms and procedures pertaining to worker safety, health, and labor during future sporting events. By removing barriers, everyone is able to work as a team to solve present issues while planning for future sporting events that are pleasant for all stakeholders.

The effect of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the 2020 games has impacted the United States’ different components governing organizations. The Olympics’ cancellation, combined with economic losses from COVID-19, saw the immediate forecasted result of USD 800 million in losses for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (‘USOPC’) and the fifty national governing bodies (‘NGBs’) that comprise the Olympic system in this country. This prompted the USOPC to petition Congress for funding, which involved a handout of USD 200 million. This request was denied.

The sports ecosystem, comprising producers, broadcasters, fans, businesses, owners, and players among others, needs to find new and innovative solutions to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the world of sport. This includes finding ways to engage with fans in order to ensure safe sports events in the future while maintaining the workforce, creating new operating models and venue strategies.

The pandemic has seen a major increase in the legal profession for sports, especially for solicitors to determine whether or not the force majeure clause has been invoked. Due to the high degree of frustration and the strict laws governing contractual obligations, attention has been refocussed as to whether contract termination breaches the law of frustration. 


2021 was actually a seminal year for revamped drug policies to take center stage in the light of US professional sports leagues changing their regulations due to COVID-19. The Tokyo Olympics have seen major controversy brought to light during its time. One of the major issues that centered around the United States was the issue of cannabinoids being utilized during the games. The legalization of cannabis in almost one-third of the states in the USA has resulted in the main US professional sports leagues taking a new approach and choosing to provide therapy for athletes who use recreational drugs rather than impose suspensions. 

From this year forward, usage of cannabinoids such as marijuana or other cannabinoids will no longer result in disqualification from professional sports competitions in the United States. As opposed, if a player tests positive for marijuana, they are treated and evaluated for any addictions, such as addiction to opioids, and sent to a rehabilitation facility. Almost all leagues now utilize a treatment program rather than punishment for using recreational drugs, including cocaine. 

The exception is the NBA and WNBA, where a player who uses cannabinoids may still be banned. This is especially noticeable under Major League Baseball, wherein the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is responsible for inculcating a player rehabilitation program as a result of the use, or suspected use, of cannabinoids or another recreational drug. MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is the most comprehensive of the sporting authorities. However, under Major League Soccer (MLS,) a using player is subject to a drug-centric as well as an emotional and behavioral condition and healthcare program. National Basketball Association (NBA) is not as lenient. However, testing for marijuana has been discontinued, although the ban is still in place. for cocaine and other drugs of abuse.

Players who are involved in drugs abuse should be helped by the new National Football League (NFL) policy. Resources are devoted to the study and therapy of athletes, rather than retribution. Additionally, under the National Hockey League’s substance abuse policy, a player who takes a drug of abuse is required to complete a treatment program rather than be suspended from games. 


The World Anti-Doping Code, which entered into effect on January 1st of the year 2021, distinguishes between drug misuse and the usage of other prohibited substances. While the UFC Anti-Doping Policy prohibits the use of drugs of abuse, including cannabis, even under the World Anti-Doping Code the use of substances of abuse would result in an automatic suspension from competition. There would be a different duration of suspension applied to each instance of prohibited use, based on when the prohibited use happened and if it had any connection to sports performance.

Athletes whose use of a drug of abuse happened outside of competing and was unconnected to their athletic performance will immediately be suspended for three months. The three-month suspension may be lowered to one month if the athlete finishes a therapy session in an authorized manner.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete whose use of a drug of abuse took place during a competitive environment (generally defined as the period beginning at 11.59 pm on the day before a competitive environment in which the sportsperson competes and ending at the conclusion of that competition) does not automatically receive diminution to three months or less. Rather, athletes in this situation are eligible for a decrease only if they can demonstrate that their usage was unrelated to athletic performance. Even yet, the shortened term of disqualification is anticipated to be in the 12–24-month bracket (depending on the athlete’s degree of culpability), which is much lengthier than the three-month automatic ban for out-of-competition usage.

Athletes who use a drug of abuse during rivalry and in connection with sports participation are regarded the same as athletes who use a performance-enhancing medication. Players in this situation risk a two-year ban on cannabis, heroin, or ecstasy use, or a four-year ban on cocaine usage.


With the changes in the doping laws that govern athletes, a landmark change in sports law also comes from the pioneering compensation program offered to amateur athletes. There are approximately a thousand schools and institutions under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. They have split into three divisions; [A.] Division I, [B.] Division II and [C.] Division III. NCAA regulations treat student-athletes as amateurs, and they do not get compensation for their athletic efforts. The NCAA derives billions of dollars in income by marketing and promoting ‘amateur’ intercollegiate sports, which is why student-athletes have increasingly come into the spotlight for the treatment they’re getting inside college athletics.

It must be noted that the NCAA retains a COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group which specifically includes medical professionals from all three divisions and each of the Autonomy 5 conferences. It includes representatives from organizations and medical groups that have been working collaboratively with the original advisory panel and NCAA membership.  The Group is responsible for [A.]  understanding emerging COVID-19 research and data to adequately provide direction to the NCAA membership in the context of training, practice, and competition, and is responsible for testing paradigms and mitigating infection spread; [B.] creation of COVID-19 protocols applicable to training, practice and competition in winter and spring sports; [C.] providing protocols for all sports competitions and championships, including on-site management of student-athletes and essential personnel, non-essential personnel and fans.

Currently, there are state laws pending that would allow college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) as well as multiple bills awaiting approval in Congress that would enable college athletes to claim payment for the very first time; and there is a case pending before the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) that might could enable college athletes to earn while availing restricted education-related benefits.


Following the historic O’Bannon v NCAA case, which established that players had the right to share in NIL, the drive for collegiate athletes to get individual endorsement money started in earnest. After the O’Bannon case, many states tried to pass legislation that would have enabled collegiate athletes to receive compensation for their unused no-trade rights. To avert the potential undercutting of the NCAA’s unified approach to college ‘amateur’ sports, a committee was established to propose alternative solutions to the NIL issue. At the beginning of 2019, the NCAA Working Group presented its recommendations, but the NCAA divisions have not yet responded. Concerns were raised that the NCAA may not have sufficiently accounted for the socio-economic disparity in its analysis of the additional limitations on student-athletes. This decision was made to postpone a vote on the proposed set of NIL rules.


It is imperative herein to understand the background to the sports industry that was established. The Sports Act set up a cohesive structure in a variety of different ways, coming truly into power in 1978. Over everything relating to the USOC’s involvement in the Olympic Games, including representation of the United States, the USOC received ‘exclusive jurisdiction over all Olympic Games matters.’  By establishing national objectives for amateur sports, and developing good connections with different athletic groups, the National Olympics Task Force aimed to provide Olympic participants and U.S. athletes in general with an additional purpose and role. Dispute resolution processes were also standardized, while efforts were made to support women, minorities, and handicapped athletes in developing their programs.

 Prior to being authorized to decide which American athletes may participate in the USOPC-mandated sport, the now-USOPC is obliged to choose a separate governing body to set athlete qualification standards in that sport. These selected National Governing Bodies govern their sport or set of sports and create rules for competition and sanctions competition on a regional and national level. As well, it enables the 50 national governing bodies to finance their own activities, thanks to sponsorship deals. One major issue is that U.S. Olympic Committee regulations mandate that CEOs be paid and appointed while board seats are optional.

In 1998, the Sports Act was modified to incorporate provisions relating to Paralympic athletes, who had previously been independent of the USOC’s authority. This duplicated the same structure for Paralympic athletes that had been previously in place. It had the effect of increasing involvement in decision-making decisions in sport, especially in the USOC and NGBs, via the creation of ‘athletes advisory councils.’   

The board compromise was needed in order for 20% of the USOPC to be made up of amateur athletes. As well, the USOC was now obliged to employ an ‘athlete ombudsman’ to serve as an advocate for athletes’ rights. Additionally, a new law gave the USOC authority to remove suits brought against the USOC in federal court for violations of the Sports Act, and a clause was added that prevents courts from entering injunctive relief against the USOC during an Olympic competition where the claim is made within 21 days of the event.   The main point of discussion is the private rights of action were entirely abolished,  against the USOC and NGBs. This new legislative strategy confers an odd status on the USOPC. It is not a governmental body, and there are very limited rights for those who have been adversely affected to take legal action. To a limited extent, it must answer to the public and to Congress. The USOPC is an essential government role, serving the interests of the United States by acting as a spokesman for the United States to the world and managing the United States Olympic Movement sports.


Although the USOC is federally authorized under the Sports Act, Congress has very little control over it. While a Federal Charter doesn’t have any real connection with the federal government, it does provide a state a title of distinction. The USAOPC is required to provide a four-year report to Congress, and during the course of the controversy that surrounded the Larry Nasser sex abuse scandal, the Senate and House committees delved into the matter as well. However, in spite of recent efforts, supervision of the USOPC has often been inconsistent.

Ordinarily, courts uphold national governing bodies’ norms and judgments. Individual athletes have had a difficult time finding both explicit and implied claims against national governing organizations and IFs. Because of this, they have usually chosen to resolve conflicts through private mechanisms. Public agencies are especially reluctant to interfere in private-body disciplinary proceedings. The likelihood of legal challenges seems to hasten attempts to reach consensus among the various international sports organizations and federations.

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1. Ludvigsen, Jan Andre Lee, and John W. Hayton. ‘Toward COVID-19 secure events: Considerations for organizing the safe resumption of major sporting events.’ Managing Sport and Leisure (2020): 1-11.

2. Parnell, Daniel, et al. ‘COVID-19, networks and sport.’ Managing Sport and Leisure (2020): 1-7.

3. ‘Pass the Message: Five Steps to Kicking Out Coronavirus.’ World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news/item/23-03-2020-pass-the-message-five-steps-to-kicking-out-coronavirus. 

4. Well-known football players from different countries have been participating in the campaign. They encourage people to follow five important steps: wash hands, coughing etiquette, maintaining physical distance, and staying home if they are sick.

5. Ehrlich, Justin Andrew, et al. ‘COVID-19 countermeasures, sporting events, and the financial impacts to the North American leagues.’ Managerial Finance (2020).

6. Ludvigsen, Jan Andre Lee, and John W. Hayton. ‘Toward COVID-19 secure events: Considerations for organizing the safe resumption of major sporting events.’ Managing Sport and Leisure (2020): 1-11.

7. Wong, Ashley Ying-Ying, et al. ‘Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports and exercise.’ Asia-Pacific journal of sports medicine, arthroscopy, rehabilitation, and technology 22 (2020): 39-44.

8. Carmody, Sean, et al. ‘When can professional sport recommence safely during the COVID-19 pandemic? Risk assessment and factors to consider.’ (2020): 946-948.

9. Hart, Anne. ‘Torching Athlete Rights: Examining the Fiduciary Duties of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Board of Directors.’ BCL Rev. 61 (2020): 2695.

10. Legg, David, et al. ‘The International Olympic Committee–International Paralympic Committee Relationship: Past, Present, and Future.’ Journal of Sport and Social Issues 39.5 (2015): 371-395.

11. Hansen, Seng. ‘Does the COVID-19 outbreak constitute a force majeure event? A pandemic impact on construction contracts.’ Journal of the Civil Engineering Forum. Vol. 6. No. 1. 2020.

12. Levinson-King, Robin. ‘Why Cannabis Is Still a Banned Olympics Substance.’ BBC News, BBC, 28 July 2021, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58003743. 

13. Draper, Kevin, and Juliet Macur. ‘Sha’Carri Richardson, a Track Sensation, Tests Positive for Marijuana.’ The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 July 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/07/01/sports/olympics/shacarri-richardson-suspended-marijuana.html. 

14. Drug, Major League Baseball’S. Joint. ‘Prevention and Treatment Program (2011).’ Effective Date, December 12 (2011).

15. David, Paul. A guide to the world anti-doping code. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

16.‘Compensating College Athletes: Moving the Ball Forward.’ Bloomberg Law, news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/compensating-college-athletes-moving-the-ball-forward. 

17. Seeburger, Michael T. ‘What’s in a Name, Image, and Likeness for Student-Athletes?’ New Jersey Law Journal, 12 Aug. 2021, www.law.com/njlawjournal/2021/08/12/name-image-and-likeness-in-college-sports/. 

18. National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, 468 U.S. 85 (1984) was overturned

19. In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletic Grant-in-Aid Cap Antitrust Litigation, 375 F. Supp. 3d 1058 (N.D. Cal. 2019).

20.  In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletic Grant-in-Aid Cap Antitrust Litigation, 958 F.3d 1239 (9th Cir. 2020)

21. Several bills have been introduced in Congress that seek to provide a federal uniform solution to the chaos looming on the horizon over the NCAA ‘amateurism’ issue. The leading bill, called The College Athletes’ Bill of Rights, was introduced by Senator Cory Booker, a former American football player at Stanford University.

The College Athletes’ Bill of Rights has the potential to drastically alter the current intercollegiate sports landscape since it would grant college athletes a federal right to monetize their NIL rights and mandate that ‘fair and equitable compensation’ be paid to college athletes. The compensation would take the form of revenue shared with the athletes, calculated on a sport-by-sport basis. The College Athletes’ Bill of Rights would also increase access to healthcare for college athletes, expand rights to scholarship money, and eliminate penalties that exist for athletes who transfer schools.


23. NCAA v. Alston, 594 U.S. ___ (2021), unanimously striking down an NCAA restriction on the education-related benefits a college can offer student-athletes.

24. ‘A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words-and Maybe a Thousand Bucks Too, According to the NCAA.’ JD Supra, www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words-and-8057043/. 

25. Koller, Dionne L. ‘A Twenty-First-Century Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.’ Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 20 (2017): 1027.

26. Nafziger, James AR. ‘The amateur sports act of 1978.’ BYU L. Rev. (1983): 47.

27. The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act is a United States law (codified at 36 U.S.C. Sec. 220501 et seq. of the United States Code) that charters and grants monopoly status to the United States Olympic Committee, and specifies requirements for its member national governing bodies for individual sports.

28. Chalip, Laurence. ‘The future past of the amateur sports act: Developing American sport.’ Journal of coaching education 4.2 (2011): 4-29.


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