"We must all stand together and respect the rules” – Giacomo Agostini on Italy’s fight against Covid

Laureus World Sports Academy Member Giacomo Agostini is a sporting legend. He won 15 world titles, taking risks throughout his career on the race track, but nothing, he says, has prepared him for the situation in which he finds himself today.
He is the most successful rider in the history of motor cycling and faced many challenges on the track, but in the last few weeks he is confronting a different kind of danger.
Giacomo lives in Bergamo in Italy, a town and country which have been seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic. He describes the situation as terrifying.
Giacomo, now 77, says: “I get a lump in my throat when at night I hear the sirens passing by, the situation is terrifying. It is a very sad, especially in Bergamo which is the epicenter. You could never have imagined, in 2020, anything like this happening.”
Speaking in a recent interview with Sky Sports Italia, he says he was away from his home when it became obvious how serious a threat COVID-19 was going to become.
"I decided to go back to Bergamo and shut myself in the house, stay under 'house arrest' here because there are all my things, there is the house where I lived for many years, so I didn't want to stay away. But the situation is very critical. It is terrifying when the army trucks come to take coffins away. I also think of family members who are being carried away by a loved one to some destination. It is a really difficult moment.
“Of course, there is fear, given the suffering that the sick feel, the way we die, but I also have confidence, because I shut myself in the house, I respect the rules, and everyone should respect them. It is a big sacrifice but if we do it all together we will get out of it, otherwise we will continue to drag the problem for many months.
“I think a further tightening on closings for a period is right. It is a great loss, but life is more important than money. If there are companies still open, people continue to go around, instead only those that are essential for living, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, food stores should remain open. The rest is superfluous. You have to stand still. It is a huge effort, but we must make ourselves realise that it is a truly dramatic moment.
"We must all stand together, respect the rules, because they are important. As they did in China, where they closed everything, there was a curfew, everyone behaved according to the indications. Here I still see people chasing around, go running, even people who go to the beach. If we go on like this we will prolong the agony. Only by staying united, we will all be able to win this war.”
How does he spend his time in his house, unable to leave.
“Luckily I have my trophy room, I have thousands of photos to fix. I've been tidying them all since I started. I'm classifying them by folders: travel, friends, and my wife has allowed me to also make a folder of friends. At times like this, it’s nice to remember some places, some people that were far away in my memory.
“I also have a dozen motorbikes here: I clean them, charge the battery, switch them on. I take care of them. I put the garden in order.”
Giacomo is disappointed with the impact this will have on the World MotoGP Championship this year, but he accepts whatever happens has to happen.
“For me who loves this sport it is a blow to the heart. The excitement that the races still give me today, even just watching them, waiting for Sunday to see who wins, who is the best, I miss all this. But we have to realise that it was an inconceivable misfortune. I would never have thought that, given the level of medicine and technology, a virus could bring us to our knees.
“We will get out of it, but it will still be long, because when it passes we will not be able to immediately go back to the old habits. Even for the Grand Prix and big sporting events, we cannot think of bringing together tens of thousands of people, because the world is in crisis, not only Italy.
“This is the big problem: even when the infections start to drop, however, there will still be sick people, so we will have to wait not only for the transmission to stop, but for everyone to be healed.
“At the moment rightly they are all locked in their houses. The luckiest ones have their own gym, the others will still be trained. Honestly, the athletic part is fine, but the real training is the one with the bike. They will all be a little less trained: instead of turning in 1'30, they may turn in 1'31, but the best will always win.
“The biggest problem is not to get hurt, because with Grand Prix close together, a small injury can make you lose many races. Then you also need to understand how close can they actually be, because there are bikes to be put in place. It's tiring, but one race a week can be done."

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