One of the biggest thrills that entails being a sports fan is having the possibility to visit different cities around the world to be able to witness some of the most important sporting events year in and year out. Take the Super Bowl for example, the most important event for football fans and Las Vegas NFL odds makers alike. The Super Bowl has become one of the most important sporting entertainment events worldwide year in and year out, being the most important sports related event in the US without any shadow of a doubt. For sports fans, being able to travel and follow their favorite sporting teams, athletes and events is a pinnacle in their fandom. But in recent times, changes have had to be made.
Nowadays, after the long and devastating times of living through the uncertainty given by the global health pandemic that affected almost all of the world have started to pass with more and more speed and force, let’s look at how sports related tourism and travel was affected by the past troubling times and how it changed.
Nobody Was Ready For COVID-19, Especially The Sports Industry
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic striking all over the world, industries from all walks of life, including the global sports industry had to stop, regroup, rethink strategies of how to not only survive, but once again thrive in the face of hardship and challenge and get going again. For sports fans, especially those who liked to dabble in the world of sports related tourism and travel, this meant new ways of approaching their hobbies. Many of the main events in the sports calendar were either delayed, postponed or even cancelled.
Events of the magnitude of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and both the UEFA Euro 2020 Tournament and South America’s CONMEBOL Copa América Tournament, the two main national soccer tournaments in the world after the FIFA World Cup tournament, sporting gatherings that have always been top priorities for sports tourism fans had to reschedule in order to maintain not only their participants health and security, but also to prevent massive outbreaks of the pandemic virus to spread amongst fans.
Sports Without Fans Are Not Really Sports
It’s no secret that at first, when sports started to return, being able to watch our favorite sporting events was a great way to get our minds of everything that was happening in the world, but at the same, seeing those same sporting events in empty stadiums and arenas, just felt different. The passion and sentiment that sports fans bring to events is unmatched and it’s one of the main factors of what makes sporting events so popular.
Cities that based themselves as sporting capitals had to endure the hardest of times due to the lack of sporting related tourism activities. Sports related travel companies could’ve never foreseen the hardship they had to endure in order to survive and get back again. Thankfully, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, activities are starting to take flight again.
Better And Safer Times Lie Ahead
One of the main goals both the sports and tourism industries have shared and continue to share as time has gone by is to be able to bring their activities back to normal as soon as possible. What does this mean for each industry? On the one hand for sports, it means being able to host fans in full capacity back in stadiums and arenas. Also to be able to once again host all the major sporting events that usually brighten up the yearly sports entertainment calendars around the world. Thanks to vaccination efforts made by governments worldwide as well as the implementation and following of strict health and safety protocols, this has become a reality. The aforementioned events like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and both the EURO 2020 tournament and Copa América 2020 tournament were able to be held again in 2021.
While for the Olympics having fans in the stands was not an option, one of the main signs of hope for what lies ahead was to be able to see Wembley Stadium in London, one of the main shrines for soccer fans around the world being able to have fans at almost full capacity once again for the England vs. Italy finals matchup of the EURO 2020 tournament. In the United States, being able to see fans once again in the stands for NFL games, like last year’s postseason and Super Bowl and this year’s preseason games, as well as MLB and NBA games became a true and proud sign of optimism and better times ahead.
For tourism, especially sports based tourism and travel, it’s basically the same. Thanks to vaccination efforts and people understanding, for the most part, what entails safe traveling and tourism during pandemic times, these industries have been able to start coming back with more and more force. Sports related tourism is once again starting to become a go to activity for passionate sports fans all around who wish to follow their favorite teams or go to specific sporting events or sporting related cities. The path to getting back to normality, or to getting to a new normality is clear, staying safe and obeying the rules and protocols, if this is achieved, we will be looking at sports related tourism and travel as strong as it once was or even stronger.