Ministry of Sport

Coronavirus: The Impact On The Broader Sports Industry

The continued spread of the Coronavirus is causing havoc for trade and travel worldwide, but the broader sports industry is also suffering, as key sporting events across the international calendar are being postponed or cancelled.

The AFL has today announced that St Kilda’s round 11 clash against Port Adelaide, originally scheduled to play at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium, will instead be played at Marvel Stadium in round 12.

Since 2019, St Kilda has received a fee as part of the deal for selling a home match, so the club will now attempt to salvage as much lost money as it can from the switch.

Both clubs will also need to factor in lost business and sponsorship opportunities in the unique Chinese market.

“Our team have monitored the situation in China closely and we have taken advice from the Australian Government, the World Health Organisation and our Chief Medical Officer,” AFL chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, said.

“It is evident that the coronavirus still poses a significant risk internationally and quite simply we will not compromise the health and safety of any of our clubs, supporters and AFL team members.

Formula 1, Formula E and MotoGP have all cancelled events, and uncertainty looms over numerous race weekends around the world.

The first two rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 season in Melbourne and Bahrain are set to go ahead, however, the Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed indefinitely.

Moto GP’s season-opening race in Qatar, which was due to take place this weekend, and its second round of the championship in Thailand, have both been struck from the calendar – replacement dates for the events have not been announced.

The NBA has told teams to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs, the league’s latest response in its ongoing monitoring of the coronavirus crisis.

In a memo sent to teams last weekend, the league offered 10 recommendations to players in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, including not taking items such as markers and pens, balls, or jerseys from autograph-seeking fans.

The Italian football league’s professional competition, Serie A, which had five matches scheduled to go ahead behind closed doors, including the key clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, has been postponed until May because of the coronavirus crisis.

The fixtures were originally due to be played without fans, but on Saturday the league decided to call them off as part of “urgent measures for the containment and management” of COVID-19.

China’s top-flight football tournament, commonly known as Chinese Super League or CSL, has again been postponed until after May and with this latest change, it is likely that the schedule of the CSL will need to change drastically, with the frequency of double fixtures each week to increase in order to finish the season in time.

These alterations to sporting events are placing tremendous amounts of pressure on broadcasters as they scramble to fill the void of missing events, whilst also needing to reschedule future matches.

The list of sporting events being cancelled, postponed or going ahead with no spectators, is growing daily and currently includes Olympic qualifiers, rugby, boxing, horse racing and the HSBC Women’s Golf World Championship – among a dozen others.

More changes are expected in the coming days and weeks, especially in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan, which has been one of the more heavily affected countries.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney