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80 per cent of mass participation events could disappear, claims coalition

The Endurance Coalition, an organisation that counts mass participation event organisers Ironman, Spartan Race and USA Triathlon among its members, has claimed eighty per cent of mass participation businesses could disappear by the end of 2020 without further government support.

The coalition described the widespread damage the Covid-19 pandemic has done to the mass participation sector in a letter addressed to leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives before imploring them to extend financial support packages to see the industry through the crisis.

The letter said: “Covid-19 is crushing us. With no discrimination on size, type or location, the threat of the virus brought our events to an immediate and shocking halt. Forced cancellations came early in March, well before restaurants and retailers were obligated to close by government mandate.

“Months into the pandemic, as states see-saw through tenuous re-openings, even those most aggressive on re-opening are understandably hesitant about permitting mass gatherings to occur.”

The letter claimed mass participation event organisers saw sponsorship and registration fee revenues dry up “by over 95 per cent almost overnight in mid-March” as lockdown orders and travel restrictions came into effect.

It added that 95 per cent of race directors in the coalition were pessimistic that they will be able to hold any more events this year.

The letter called for US legislators to extend financial support packages for businesses. It claimed 82 per cent of Endurance Coalition members had been able to access funding from the US Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which extended hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to help small businesses keep staff employed.

But the coalition said most of its members had now spent these loans completely and others anticipated working their way through the funds in the next two weeks.

The letter said the coalition strongly supported proposals put forward in the bipartisan Restart Act which wants to extend the PPP from eight to 16 weeks and would seek to provide additional loans to support businesses through to the end of the year.

“Mass participation sports can be a key payer in economic recovery,” the letter stated. “Our events fill hotels and restaurants in all corners of the country, often during off-season when communities need the activity most. They also help raise awareness and tens of millions of dollars for charitable causes large and small.

“Without your help, the hometown races which have become fixtures in many communities may not be there when it is safe to run, bike, swim, and compete in large groups again.”

The letter was signed by Ironman, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, USA Triathlon, Running USA and more than 850 other members organisations.