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COVID-19 travel restrictions impacting Australian elite sport

COVID-19 travel restrictions impacting Australian elite sport
September 23, 2020

A report from investment analysts Kalkine Media has advised how travel and border restrictions are impacting Australia’s elite sports industry, blocking revenue streams and delaying competitions.

Published this week, Kalkine Media advise "travel curbs have considerably reduced the participation of Australian swimmers in the approaching International Swimming League" while highlighting "Australia has pushed back its top basketball league, National Basketball League (NBL), to January 2021."

It also notes that the Twenty20 women's Big Bash League "has recently been shifted entirely to Sydney amid COVID-19 limitations" and that "the W-League season is unlikely to commence until 2021".

The analysis continues, while Australia has been enjoying billions of dollars in revenue from the sports domain over the past several years, the year 2020 is as different as chalk and cheese (and)  COVID-19 is the reason.

“The pandemic-driven travel and border restrictions have delivered a heavy blow to the Australia’s elite sports industry, blocking revenue streams.

“As per a report unveiled by the Australian Government in May 2020, the nation’s sports industry produced $32.2 billion in sales in 2016/17, leading to a contribution of $14.4 billion to the GDP and supporting 128,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

“Undeniably, Australia’s sports industry has been making a material contribution to the nation’s GDP and employment levels. However, the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant travel restrictions have taken a massive toll over the flourishing industry, causing widespread postponement or cancellation of sports events.”

Kalkine media then summarise some of the Coronavirus-induced travel restrictions impacting sport:

International Swimming League
Australia's overseas travel restrictions are set to considerably reduce the participation of nation’s swimmers in the approaching International Swimming League (ISL). The league is expected to launch on 16th October 2020 in Budapest, Hungary.

While the roster comprises a list of 28 swimmers hailing from Australia, speculations are rife that just four Australians will be participating in the event. However, these participants may not receive financial support from the federation, Swimming Australia, if they travel overseas without an approved exemption.

It is worth noting that the ongoing border restrictions include limitations on athletic-related travel and have been recently extended up to 17th December 2020.

National Basketball League
Amid COVID-19-driven travel restrictions and financial concerns, the NBL 2020/21 season will now not start until January 2021. The league was initially planned to commence in October but has now been rescheduled to next year.

The delay in the event is expected to boost the chances of the crowd to watch matches and provide a revenue boost to the basketball league. While the exact date of the event is not yet decided, it remains flexible and is contingent on a range of factors, comprising: community transmission numbers; travel and border restrictions; and availability at venues across New Zealand and Australia.

The health and safety of participants are expected to be given an utmost priority, especially after a temporary shutdown of Melbourne-based NBL clubs in August post 12 new COVID-19 cases.

Women’s Big Bash League
Originally planned to start on 17th October 2020 across six Australian cities, the nation’s Twenty20 women's Big Bash League has recently been shifted entirely to Sydney. The event will now take place a week later in Sydney amidst COVID-19-induced travel curbs and quarantine requirements.

While women’s Big Bash League is expected to start on 25th October 2020, the men’s league is scheduled to begin on 3rd December 2020. To ensure the league proceeds in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines and government regulations, Cricket Australia has worked in close partnership with the NSW government.

W-League
Due to the existing COVID-19 border restrictions in New Zealand and Australia, the W-League season is unlikely to commence until 2021. Football Federation Australia (FFA) intends to get a full campaign up and running for the W-League despite coronavirus disruptions.

While a delayed start seems inevitable, FFA is hopeful of completing the W-League season as smooth as the A-League season. To recollect, FFA’s A-League became the nation’s first professional competition to finalise its season successfully after being suspended in March 2020.

Kalkine Media conclude "although COVID-19-driven travel limitations have derailed the timeline of several sports events, initiating leagues in the current scenario would have resulted in harsh setbacks. Instead of getting disheartened, sports enthusiasts can recall nation’s remarkable performance over the last few years in punching above its weight in the sports segment."

Main image shows the International Swimming League 2019 finale.

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6th August 2020 - Sport Australia looks to sell off part of AIS’ Canberra campus

20th July 2020 - ICC postpones Twenty20 World Cup

2nd July 2020 - FFA discussion paper looks to start the transformation of football in Australia

19th June 2020 - FFA agrees new broadcast deal with A-League 2020/21 season set for winter finish

20th May 2020 - Global sports sponsorship market predicted to fall by 37% this year

1st May 2020 - Coronavirus has multi-billion dollar negative impact on global sport

19th December 2019 - Myrtha Pools’ acrylic wall to feature at International Swimming League grand final

27th August 2019 - Eurosport makes two-year broadcast commitment to new International Swimming League

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