The impact of COVID-19 on the sports sector
All sports events are being postponed or cancelled to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Union of European Football Associations has delayed Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021 and Formula 1 has postponed several races.
On 21 April 2020, State Secretary of Central State Office for Sport Tomislav Družak chaired a videoconference of EU Sport Ministers organized by the Croatian Presidency on the implications of the coronavirus on the sports sector.
The economic losses because of the cancellations of events are vast. Sports is an important economic sector in the EU, specifically since it is employment intensive. Figures from 2012 show that 5.67 million people in the EU were employed by the sector and that is stood for an estimated share of 2,12% of total GDP in the EU.
European sport largely relies on a fabric of small clubs and associations that enable many citizens the opportunity to participate in affordable sports activities. Most of them being non-profit are driven by the support of passionate volunteers and employees and are at the greatest risk of shutting down due to the crisis.
Normally having revenue throughout the year, many sports club are now near bankruptcy. With the loss of audience revenue, sponsorship funds and media agreements that stands for biggest sources of income, COVID-19 can change the sports sector long-term.
The sponsorship market is also impacted by COVID-19, while the size of the impact is unknown now, there is a danger that companies will not be able to prioritize sponsoring the sports team when the social distancing measures are lifted.
State Secretary Tomislav Družak said during the videoconference “There is a lot of work in front of us to protect the sports sector and enable it to continue to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our citizens and the development of our society both in the current situation, but also in the post-pandemic period. But I am confident that the sports sector will emerge from this crisis as strong as ever”.
They pointed out that existing funds at the national level should be relocated, but also highlighted the use of EU funds and recognizing sports as an important part of regional development in line with national priorities and cooperation between relevant stakeholders. Besides supporting training for both athletes and citizens, firstly for those who conduct outdoor activities, where social distancing can be maintained. Additionally, different approaches with digital tools.