The impact of COVID-19 on the sport sector is much broader than just cancelling sport events - EU monitor

EU monitor
Friday, August 7, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on the sport sector is much broader than just cancelling sport events

Source: Croatian presidency of the EU (Croatian presidency) i, published on Tuesday, April 21 2020.

On 21 April 2020, State Secretary of Central State Office for Sport Tomislav Družak chaired a videoconference of EU Sport Ministers organized by the Croatian Presidency on the implications of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the sport sector.

In order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, various measures have been introduced in MS, depending on the stage of the epidemic and other specific circumstances. In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and protecting the health of our citizens remains the top priority. The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected our society in many ways, and the crisis has also a major impact on the sport sector. In the context of public health measures different steps have already been taken in order to limit the spread.

At this particularly challenging time, which could not have been foreseen and when the lives and health of citizens are endangered, Ministers responsible for Sport have exchanged information, experiences, ideas and suggestions in order to help look for common solutions and mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic.

”There is a lot of work in front of us to protect the sports sector and enable it to continue to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our citizens and the development of our society both in the current situation, but also in the post-pandemic period. But I am confident that the sports sector will emerge from this crisis as strong as ever”

State Secretary Tomislav Družak.

EU Sport Ministers discussed different measures which have been introduced in Member States. Ministers highlighted that this situation affects the ability of sports federations to function, and that there are huge economic losses because the majority of sport events have been cancelled.

They stressed the fact that sport activities at local and grassroots level as well as regular functioning of a number of small clubs and sports organizations have also been disrupted.

They pointed out that every opportunity to reallocate existing and planned funds at national level should be taken, but also highlighted that the use of EU funds and the recognition of sport as an important part of regional development should be considered in line with national priorities and in cooperation between relevant stakeholders.

Considering the nature of the pandemic, special emphasis in the discussion was placed on ensuring the continuity of athletes’ training, preparation and capacity to enhance the physical activity of citizens while at the same time ensuring their safety and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Ministers emphasised that Member States have already taken different measures to motivate people to maintain physical activity through different trainings at home or limited outdoor activity. The European Commission has also qualified the COVID-19 outbreak as an exceptional occurrence and Commissioner Gabriel expressed readiness to support Member States’ efforts in helping sport in the crisis and post-crisis recovery.

It was agreed that flexibility regarding Erasmus+: sport application deadlines and project implementation were appreciated, as well as flexibility regarding future programmes.

Finally, Ministers welcomed the #BeActiveAtHome campaign to motivate citizens to physical activity at home to become and stay healthy, as well as joint consideration of the next edition of the European Week of Sport.