The latest testing of more than 2,500 players and staff returned eight positive results for coronavirus, the second successive fall from the high point of 40 cases a fortnight previously.
Of course, it is eight cases too many but the belief or, perhaps more accurately, the hope is more stringent protocols are beginning to have the desired effect in reducing transmission rates at top flight clubs.
For now, the show remains very much on the road, no doubt to the huge relief of the league, for whom the logistical and financial nightmare of having to stop the season simply doesn’t bear thinking about.
We are still dealing very much in short-term gains, however. Just as with everything else in life, planning for the mid to long-term remains tricky, with uncertainty over how the next few months will proceed already prompting questions over the summer’s sporting calendar.
Uefa has already deferred any decision over the already delayed Euro Championships until March at the earliest. Staging the tournament in its proposed format, which would see matches spread across 12 countries, looks a tall order at present.
Yet even that might be considered a minor headache, compared to the prospect of 15,000 athletes descending on Tokyo for the Olympic Games.
The Japanese government last week issued a strong rebuttal to claims the Games, already postponed from last summer, were about to be cancelled for good.
In truth such a call seemed premature, even while Japan continues to be hit hard by the virus. But that doesn’t make it any easier for athletes, who in addition to seeing their training schedules disrupted, are now left wondering whether the event they have devoted four years of their life preparing for will actually happen?
The strain can be considerable. A survey last year by the IOC of more than 4,000 athletes found 32 per cent listed mental health as the biggest challenge they were facing.
In recent weeks and months some have sought the help of Sporting Minds, the charity set up last year by Himley cricketer Callum Lea aimed at helping young athletes deal with the issue of mental health. January has seen a noticeable spike in demand for their services.
“There’s been a big increase this month and the Olympics has become a much bigger topic of discussion,” says Lea, who points out the unique pressure of preparing for an event which only comes round once every four years.
“If you get an injury in football or cricket and miss a season there is always next year,” he says.
“Those are sports with 40 or 50 games a season, sometimes more. But with the Olympics the margins are much smaller and the window for success much finer.
“In many cases athletes are chasing childhood dreams and now have real fears over whether they will be able to fulfil them.”
Lea, who is aged just 20, admits even he has been surprised by the growth of Sporting Minds since deciding to start the charity 18 months ago, initially as an Instagram account, after experiencing his own issues with mental health while trying to make his way through the ranks at Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
Designed to be a network in which young athletes can be open and honest about their experiences, the charity is also offering direct help through a partnership with Bupa which funds free one-to-one sessions.
To date they have supported more than 450 athletes, though the number is growing all the time as the pandemic continues to create uncertainty.
“Athletes are creatures of habit,” says Lea. “A lot of the time they build things around what they can control – recovery, how they train, how they eat, how they sleep. Their training patterns are going to be controlled to the finest point they can.
“When something like this happens, a pandemic which offsets the schedule, everything goes out of the window. I am not surprised we have had Olympic athletes getting in touch.”
Now less than six months before the opening ceremony, it is easy to see why the Games are at significant risk.
Much of Japan is currently in a state of emergency, while a recent poll suggested 80 per cent of its population are against the Olympics going ahead.
Yet if athletes are searching for a positive, they may find it in the fact there are several billion reasons why the organisers will be doing everything they can to make sure the Games go ahead as planned. Around 11 billion pounds worth, to be precise, which is the estimated cost already to the Japanese economy in preparing for the event. On top of that, three-quarters of the IOC’s revenue comes from broadcast deals for the Olympics. Almost all the rest comes from sponsorship linked to the event. Cynical as it may sound, in sport money often talks.
Last week IOC president Thomas Bach said there was “no reason whatsoever” for the Games not to go ahead as planned.
Which would be comforting, were it not exactly the same phrase he used last year, three weeks before the event was postponed from its original date.
Predicting where the world will be in six months is impossible. A quick decision on this year’s Games is not expected, yet neither can it be put off forever.
“It can’t be a last minute thing,” US triple jumper Christian Taylor, president of the Athletes Association said this week.
“Of course we want to see what happens with the vaccine, not just in Japan but globally. But I believe by the end of March going into April, we need to say where we are, this is the reality.”
For more information on the work of Sporting Minds visit sportingmindsuk.org