Over the last few weeks, the world of sport has been turned upside down.
Pretty much every sporting event being cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effects of this have been nearly as devastating as the virus itself, with international sports federations, largely subsidized by the IOC, finding themselves in financial difficulty, thanks to the historic postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Of the 33 international federations participating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, 28 depend heavily on the “Olympic dividend” they receive from the IOC every 4 years. This vital cash is a well-deserved thank you from the IOC for the work done by the federations, whose athletes make the Games a sporting and commercial success.
With the postponement of the Games though, these payments may have to be postponed. This is a huge blow to the federations and although the IOC are certainly going to pay, no-one yet knows how much or when. With everyone struggling to stay safe and sane during this unstable time, sport is no exception. Sponsors are starting to pull out of previous deals and the sport industry is on a knife edge.
There is one option though, which, gives control back to federations in times of uncertainty and fear. Membership.
By connecting to the grassroots – the participants who are totally engaged with sport, federations can find new cash streams and grow their sport. Even if, thanks to the restrictions in place, practicing sport is very difficult, the beauty of the digital age means federations can be creative and offer other incentives.
This imposed lockdown could be the perfect time for federations to connect on a deeper level with their grassroot schemes and athletes. With no events and training virtually impossible too, federations need to keep talking to their members and providing content to keep them engaged.
It is a difficult time for sport at the moment and without an end date in sight it is likely to stay like this for a while. International and national federations to come up with new ways to stay financially stable and to keep their sport alive and in the forefront of people’s minds.
By encouraging people to sign up federations can create new revenue flows and ensure that when we all emerge out of quarantine, our sports will be stronger than ever.