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A new ball game: Table tennis, shooting & Esports are having a mainstream moment In a world where social distancing is the norm, sports like table tennis, shooting and Esports are the real winners as capital and marketing spend gets redirected to less popular sports. In an interview with KiaOra India’s Priti Garude, CricHQ New Zealand, CEO for South Asia, Sreedhar Venkatram shares his thoughts on the recovery path for the global sports industry.


here’s a first time for everything. Who would have thought records would be broken or that 5 wicket hauls would be celebrated in an empty or near to empty stadium. However, that’s precisely what Australian cricketer, Aaron Finch and Indian bowler, Ravichandran Ashwin would have experienced in their recent cricket matches that were held in our new normal - an era of sports without a live audience. Lockdown 4.0 in New Zealand and a series of continued restrictions in India have led to individual teams playing behind closed doors. Loud echoes that are normally reserved for cricket grounds were now witnessed only by television screens. The spread of COVID-19 has put many sports and other associated industries on the back seat. Match cancellations, lack of broadcasting revenue, drop in sports betting, membership fees and ticketing revenue, has had a devastating impact on the bottom line of many sporting organisations. According to a KPMG report, European football clubs reported a loss of around 4 billion euros (3.59 billion pounds) in revenue. Back home, NZ Cricket has budgeted a loss of $3.5 million in the year ending 31 July 2021, as a result of cancelled international tours as well as management of government mandated health protocols during matches.

Grassroot organisations take a hit

The resultant domino effect has also affected local clubs and smaller grassroots organisations who operate on a shoestring budget and are usually reliant

on national bodies to provide support. Talking about the impact of COVID on the sports sector, Sreedhar Venkatram, CEO South Asia, Cric HQ said, “The one worry is how badly COVID has affected the grassroot organisations. (We need to figure out) how the National Governing Bodies can subsidize them and make them vibrant so future generations can grow up engaging in sports which lay the foundation for their health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on the entire sector affecting those who participate and the organisations that provide play, active recreation and sport services.” National organisations in many countries have provided relief to the sector. Sport NZ provided initial relief funding as well as pandemic management support and advice to the sector. In July 2020, the New Zealand government announced a $80 million sports recovery package of which $10 million was allocated for community resilience by Sports NZ.

Subsidiary industries take a hit

Cricket clubs and organisations are not the only ones affected by the cancellation of matches. Subsidiary industries like hospitality, tourism and manufacturing also took a hit due to the lack of sporting events. The Rs. 2000 crore sporting industry in India was severely impacted. According to the Secretary of the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council (SGEPC), the city of Meerut based in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which produces about 45% of exported sports goods, was expected to have lost at least Rs 200 crore in April 2020.

16 | KiaOra India | Mar 2021 INZBC.ORG