Covid-19 pandemic cuts global sports calendar by half, revenue down $61bn

Germany's Bundesliga is planning a return to action behind closed doors (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

The global sporting calendar for 2020 is likely to lose almost half of its originally-scheduled events following cancellations and postponements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new analysis from Two Circles suggests.

The London-based data-led digital agency has carried out research which shows that of a planned 49,803 major sporting events, only 26,424 are likely to take place over the course of the year. In March, when lockdown conditions began around much of the word, 1,870 events took place out of an originally scheduled 5,584.

In terms of the economic impact, Two Circles estimates it will amount to a drop in revenues of $61.6bn for the global sports industry – down to $73.7bn for the year, after posting $135.3bn in 2019. Previous estimates suggested that the industry would grow by up to 5 per cent in 2020.

Two Circles defines a “major sporting event” as one involving professional athletes with an expected attendance of at least 5,000, while its models for projecting the likelihood of events taking place later in the year are updated daily based on infection rate changes and confirmed scheduling alterations.

Based on current plans to resume playing in some countries, such as Germany, South Korea and New Zealand, Two Circles estimates that 5,467 events will take place in September – a full fifth of the year’s total estimated sporting events. 

Gareth Balch, Two Circles chief executive, said: “Sports properties are keen to return as soon as possible as the longer the sports calendar is on hiatus, the worse the financial impact will be. However, sports should – and will – only return when it is deemed safe to do so, and with the support of all relevant government and medical authorities. Even hosting sports without crowds poses a complex challenge.”