Following the news that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA was the first professional sports league in the United States to suspend its season indefinitely. At the time the season was suspended on March 11, 2020, there were still 259 games left in the 2019/20 NBA regular season. Combined league gate revenues lost as a result of these cancellations were estimated at between 350 and 450 million U.S. dollars. The following day, the NCAA, the organization responsible for college sports, followed the NBA’s lead by canceling all of its remaining winter and spring championships, which included the hugely popular ‘March Madness’ men’s basketball tournament. Television and marketing rights for this tournament alone add up to 867.5 million U.S. dollars, all of which was thrown into chaos with the news of the tournament’s first cancelation since its inaugural season in 1939. As well as the financial hit that each college due to compete in the event will suffer, the city of Atlanta, which was to host the Final Four stage of March Madness, is also set to be hit particularly hard. The city stands to lose more than 100 million U.S. dollars in areas such as ticket sales, advertising, and sponsorship due to the postponement of this event.
Moving onto the racetrack, the Formula One calendar has also been affected by the pandemic. On March 12, Formula One canceled the Australian Grand Prix, and the upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam were postponed the following day. The potential loss of revenue from the combined hosting fees across the whole season, which are paid by the individual host nations, could amount to over 602 million U.S. dollars. As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the F1 season, it comes as no surprise that the Formula One Group lost 45 percent of its market value on the stock market, amounting to a loss of an estimated five billion U.S. dollars.
One event which is yet to be canceled, but which is in serious doubt due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is the Summer Olympics. The 2020 edition of the games is due to be held in Tokyo at the end of July and, despite the fact that the International Olympic Committee urged athletes to continue their preparations for the event, question marks remain about whether it will go ahead. This is a decision that the IOC is clearly not taking lightly, especially given it will affect 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,4400 Paralympic athletes who have been training for years for this occasion. As with any Olympic Games, the financial burden on the host nation is also enormous. The new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo cost 277 million U.S. dollars alone and Japan has committed a total of 13.4 billion U.S. dollars towards organizing the event. Although the IOC has insurance in case the event gets canceled, it remains to be seen how much of a financial hit Japan will suffer should the Olympics not go ahead as scheduled.