New balls, Please!

A return to recreational activity perhaps?

Almost the entire world has been under some form of lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As these restrictions begin to ease in some parts of the world, the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”) has compiled the latest national updates regarding guidelines on a return to recreational tennis.

All ITF circuits and event categories scheduled to take place during the newly extended period are suspended, including ITF Juniors, ITF Seniors, UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, Beach Tennis Tour and the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour.

ITF President David Haggerty said: “These are tough and disappointing decisions to make, but health and safety remain our primary concern. We continue to review the global situation and assess all our options to resume international competition the moment it is safe to do so. We are working closely with tennis stakeholders to review the calendar and make the right decisions together.”

While the global pandemic continues to prevent international competition, the partial lifting of government restrictions in some nations has permitted the resumption of recreational tennis and national competitions. The ITF has issued the following ‘Return to Tennis’ guidelines for the staging of competitions with appropriate integrity, health and safety measures in place and advises recreational players to follow information and instructions from their national federation as they return to play. “New balls, please” I hear you shout, but please don’t touch mine!

Money makes the…Ball go round?

Six positive cases for coronavirus have been detected at three English Premier League clubs after 748 players and staff were tested ahead of a return to training. English Premier League Clubs began returning to training in small groups after protocols on safety measures were signed off. The German Bundesliga became the first top European league to resume after the restart plan was approved by Angela Merkel’s government. Regular testing of players, games played behind closed doors and replacements wearing face masks are part of the strict hygiene measures. Germany currently has 175,210 cases of the coronavirus, which has so far claimed over 8,000 lives. However, Bundesliga clubs want the season completed by June 30 in order to claim €300 million ($327 million) in television money. While other sports are in the dark about when they can resume competitions, the restart of top tier football is controversial.

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Virtually there

Following on from the historic cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon and the cancellation or postponement of nearly every mass-participation running event in the world, the Comrades Marathon Association announced the launch of the Comrades Marathon Association officially sanctioned virtual race, ‘Race the Comrades Legends’.

The ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ will provide a platform to engage with other runners throughout South Africa and the rest of the world as well as the opportunity for family members to participate in the action, all with the reassurance of safety and convenience, while in South Africa doing so within the constraints of the government’s national lockdown regulations and participating in a way that seeks to unite South Africa and the world in one amazing virtual event.

The evolution of product

Prior to the outbreak of the virus, many stakeholders adopted the view that scheduled fixtures and competitions would be replayed at some date in the future, and therefore their financial exposure was not that great. The current scenarios and circumstances has cast some doubt on those viewpoints, with many sports, leagues and competitions having been cancelled or played behind closed doors for a sustained period with significant losses in the form of broadcasting revenue and no ticket sales. Rights Holders and organisers affected by this crisis and seeking cover for future events are now understandably anxious to know what cover is currently available and how the crisis might affect future offers of cover.

Stakeholders across the sports, events and entertainment industries are asking themselves many questions:
Can I currently obtain cover for cancellation of future events arising from COVID-19?
What are the likely implications for the cost of cover in the future?
What will the future impact on the Event Cancellation market be?
And with the continued confusion in the world of events, how will my event cancellation policy respond if I have to reschedule my event due to COVID-19?

As is the case with many major crises, one can anticipate that the identification of new risks and exposures will naturally encourage both the development of new, and the evolution of existing insurance products to respond to this emerging need.

( Getty Image)

Open for business:

While there is no guarantee of an illness-free event, it is indisputable, that planning, training, and implementing reasonable health and safety measures are the best ways to protect live events and the people who create them, while also inspiring fans and spectators to return to venues, stadiums, concert halls and theatres.

Event industry professionals across the world are all planning to get back to business. However, the coronavirus creates different challenges depending on countless factors, including the size of the event, its geographic location, the physical space, and the anticipated attendees, to name just a few. Instead, in the order one would plan an event, one should identify reasonably foreseeable health risks and suggested options to mitigate them. Event professionals need to strike a balance between a simple checklist and an exhaustive consideration of all the possible options, and to make reasonable choices under their own circumstances.

Event Organisers planning to reopen can only do so when it is legal and reasonably safe to do so.  There should be a process of educating the attendee (delegate/fan) by changing and explaining expectations, considering employees/workers health and hygiene, sanitizing the venue adequately, dealing with the massive challenge of ingress and egress, managing front of house circulation, food and beverage and the merchandise offerings, allocating production issues between touring and venue operators, and finally understanding what are the legal issues that may arise as events and venues reopen during a pandemic.

One vital issue that should be considered is the legal exposure if someone claims they got sick attending or working at your venue or event. Consult your broker and speak to us at iTOO Special Risks.

Lead – Sports, Events & Entertainment
Greg Dillon

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