Global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) released results of a new survey focused on the impact of COVID-19 on cities hosting major sporting events. The key findings revealed that the current situation and disruption in the international sports event market by the COVID-19 virus will likely lead to significant strategic adjustments for many cities significantly involved in event hosting.

The online survey was sent out to an international selection of 100 host cities and answered by those responsible for event bidding and hosting for each respective city. Of note:

  • COVID-19 crisis impacts budgets. In terms of the budget allocated to event hosting by various levels of governments, 78 percent of host cities expect to suffer financial losses in 2020 due to the cancellation or postponement of sporting events in their city or region while 43 percent of cities think they will suffer from a budget cut for event hosting in 2021 and 17 percent after 2021.
  • COVID-19 crisis impacts strategy. In terms of impact on overall hosting strategy, there seems to be a possible shift to focus more on national events, taking away focus from hosting future international events, with 37 percent of the cities saying that it is likely that they will host less international events in the future, while 17 percent saying that they will likely most more national events as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • COVID-19 crisis impacts hosting plans. Eighty-four percent of the cities estimate that the COVID-19 situation will have a strong impact on their event hosting plans in 2020, but at the same time, 58 percent think that the impact in 2021 will be only modest.

Lars Haue-Pedersen, BCW Sports Practice Managing Director, said: “We wanted to get a first look at how experienced host cities view the disruption caused by the COVID-19 situation so that we can provide smart counsel to our clients, including both rightsholders and hosts. The results confirm our presumption that the current disruption in the international event market can have serious implications for both right holders like the International Federations and their host city partners. For quite some time, both sides have been accustomed to stable long-term planning ensuring that everything is in place several years ahead. With COVID19 this stability has been challenged, and strategies likely need to be re-worked and contingencies put in place.”

The survey was conducted over a one-week period from March 23-29, 2020. To download the survey report click here.

Photo courtesy Reuters