Pandemic turns Azerbaijani athletes into taxi drivers and postal workers
On May 7, 2021, the qualifying game of the European Volleyball Championship between the national teams of Azerbaijan and Montenegro is to take place in Georgia.
But fate decreed that a team of taxi drivers and postmen would represent Azerbaijan. What is the reason for this incident?
The coronavirus pandemic has, like almost any other sphere of public life, hit sports. Athletes have long been out of work. The situation in Azerbaijan is complicated by the fact that sports are allowed only in the open air. In other words, those who have to train and perform in gyms can only wait for the end of the quarantine.
Azerbaijani sports journalist Sabuhi Musa speaks about the desperate situation of the athletes. According to him, the ban on training in gyms has led to a high level of injuries:
“The European champion in indoor track and field athletics Nazim Babayev will represent our country at the Tokyo Olympics. But he cannot prepare for the competition. In the middle of winter, Babaev was forced to prepare for starts on the street and the result is obvious: he was injured in both competitions held in Istanbul. Now his participation in the European Championship is questionable,” says the journalist.
He also added that currently, members of the fencing team are scattered around the world to be able to train in gyms.
“Is this how we develop sports in Azerbaijan?”, asks Sabuhi Musa.
The volleyball players of the Azerbaijani national team were unable to find another way to earn money but to become taxi drivers and postmen.
Due to financial problems, the team captain Alexei Chervyakov left the country. Not because he was invited to another team – the volleyball player is looking for any kind of work at hand to survive.
Another player of the Azerbaijani national team, Tural Hasanli, first started working in a sock sewing workshop, but then got a job in the postal service and is now delivering letters. His teammate Elmin Alyshanov makes a living by working in a courier service.
Volleyball player Asif Aliyev has returned to his native Jalilabad region and is engaged in agriculture. But he is not even a farmer – he grazes the cattle of his fellow villagers.
Agil Agazade, another player in the Azerbaijani men’s national volleyball team, found a source of income in a taxi service, writes apasport.
One of the most famous Azerbaijani sports journalists, founder of the azerisport portal Vugar Zeynal told JAMnews about the plight of many domestic athletes:
“Yes, I know that in many federations the situation is extremely difficult now. Athletes have nowhere to train, perform and, accordingly, earn money.
Many of them have turned to taxi drivers – if you have your own car, then this is now the easiest way to provide for family. But the majority prefer to hide this state of affairs, finding it humiliating for themselves,” says Vugar Zeynal.
“But it’s not only in sports. The other day I called a taxi using a well-known international application. I recognized the driver as the general manager of one of the most fashionable hotels in Baku. What to do? Everyone survives as best they can,” he summed up.