Covid-19 effect on event hosting sector revealed in IAEH survey

The IAEH survey shows that it will be a long road back to full stadiums (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Association of Event Hosts has released the results of a survey investigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its members.

The IAEH’s 41-strong membership comprises event hosting authorities representing 23 cities, six regions and 12 countries from around the world, and the results of its survey represents the clearest picture to date of the effect the global outbreak has had on the live events space.

The report shows that events as far ahead as the first quarter of 2021 have already been cancelled or postponed as a result of the pandemic, with all respondents stating that events throughout the second half of 2020 have been affected.

However, the report notes that 64 per cent of respondents said that their most distant affected event was within the next three months. This is partly evidence of decisions being taken as late as possible, but also indicative of the fact that a significant proportion of sporting events take place during the northern hemisphere’s summer. 

A majority of IAEH members said that more than 50 events under their jurisdiction have been postponed or cancelled in total. Event hosts have preferred to postpone where possible, but eight of those surveyed reported that they had cancelled outright over 50 scheduled events.

As many as 80 per cent said they currently had no date for when stadium events with fans present would be able to recommence, with just five respondents having a plan in place to begin staging events with an audience this year.

IAEH members reported that small outdoor events where social distancing can be respected, and sports with individual competitors such as golf, tennis and BMX, are the most likely to begin again soon. 

Meanwhile, only three countries – none of which are in Europe or the Americas – currently have any kind of official guidance in place for staging spectator events in the future.

According to the IAEH, the top three challenges being faced by event hosts were: economic impact, including job losses and increased future costs; uncertainty about both the short and long-term future; and the changing priorities of individuals and organisations in a post-pandemic world.

It also noted, however, that the crisis has been an opportunity for learning, with the key lessons being: new ways of working and communicating; creative and innovative solutions to the problems caused by the pandemic but which can be carried forward; and new and strengthened collaboration between local and national stakeholders.