Great Big Events (GBE) managing and creative director, Greg Bowman, told Ministry of Sport he believes “crowds will rush back to sport” as soon as they are given the chance, but the dominant feeling in the sports and event industry still is uncertainty.
Since the sporting industry was brought to a halt in March due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, there have been unlimited concerns over the future of sporting events.
As sports start to make their returns around the world in fan-less venues, the financial impacts and general health and safety concerns caused by COVID-19, have the future of sport uncertain in the eyes of national federations and organisations, according to Bowman.
“The dominant feeling is uncertainty, because even we’re asked by federations ‘can our Australian athletes travel to their world series?’, and we obviously can’t give any of that information,” Bowman said, in an interview with Ministry of Sport.
“There’s uncertainty around Tokyo 2020 and what’s actually going to happen with the Olympics…
“A lot of the more well-established companies in our space have an optimistic outlook, knowing at some point, sport will come back to life.
“Then there’s still uncertainty about when we will come back to crowds, that’s another factor, the ideal scenario is it will quickly regenerate, and the crowds will rush back to sport,” he said, discussing the feeling around the events industry and GBE’s client base on the return of sport during COVID-19.
Looking past COVID-19 and the return to live sporting events with fans in attendance, Bowman said the focus on fan engagement will shift further to online and social engagement, looking past simply the ‘stadium experience’.
“A lot of the online outreach, via apps and social engagement will be more integral for sport,” Bowman said.
“For us at Great Big Events, instead of just being about game day in the arena, it will become more about engaging with fans throughout the whole event experience, even when they’re not at the stadiums.
“The whole process will be a lot more integrated.
“I think changes will definitely be made in approach to hygiene at events, in terms of proximity of people with access to clean, hygienic facilities, and ability to hand sanitise.
“In terms of it changing the nature of large crows congregating in a stadium to celebrate a sport, I think that will come back to a large degree, there’s a general hunger for that from the general public.
“As soon as some restrictions were lifted in New South Wales, we saw how quickly crowds rushed back to shopping centres; I think human nature will be for big crowds to congregate and celebrate sport and cultural activities,” he said.
“In terms of planning for very large-scale events… for example when you look at something like 9/11, that’s forever changed the security approach to large scale events around the world…
“The same thing will happen with COVID-19, it will be a consideration in planning and delivery of large-scale events.
“It’s a worldwide pandemic that has affected literally every country in the world,” Bowman said.