Jamaica’s sport industry will be hit hard with the advent of the corona virus pandemic.
The first blow came when the Inter Secondary Schools Sport Association (ISSA) was forced to cancel the 2020 edition of the Boys and Girls Championship. The event which was scheduled for March 24 – 28 was called off on Wednesday, March 11 by a team comprising the Ministry of Health and Wellness, ISSA and the lead sponsor partner, Grace Kennedy.
ISSA was quick out the blocks in estimating that at least J$150 million would have been lost. That amount would have included not just sponsor contribution, but income from broadcast rights, tickets and concessions.
The annual CHAMPS event is but one of the major calendar events which has been affected. The other sporting disciplines include an incomplete Red Stripe Premier League; Netball Jamaica was just about getting ready to start their national league in all divisions; an international volleyball club championship, scheduled for the weekend before CHAMPS, was also canceled along with several other competitions.
Subsequently, all public sporting and entertainment events have been postponed or cancelled. The only sporting event which managed to keep its foot in the door was horseracing which saw its last event being held on Saturday, March 21.
The effects on the system cannot be quantified just yet, but there are several layers that will be impacted. First off, all the athletes in all sports elite and amateur have been affected. While they are unable to compete, they are now unable to train.
Additionally, service providers, those employed directly and indirectly will all be affected; because with no events being held, there is no revenue being generated and therefore a lot of those in that industry will receive reduced pay packages for a limited time. Those who offer freelance services are on a wait and see game.
While the elite (professional athlete) may have a lifeline through the partnership with their sponsor partners, for example gear and beverage companies and other short-term partners. We await feedback from that group.
With every aspect of the industry almost coming to a halt, the fall out will be devastating. There is no timeline for the restart of any leagues now on hold. Some have been postponed indefinitely and some are considering cancellation.
National Sport budget
As a background, the Jamaican system has never been able to record a correct estimate of the contribution of the sport industry to its gross domestic product (GDP); but the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in its annual public, the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) suggests that sports (an entertainment) contribute a combined figure of up to 3.5 per cent.
The GDP as reported for the 2019 period is $14.516 billion. The sport figure would therefore be close to $500 million.
When the Government presented its 2019/2020 budget for $803 billion the allocation for sport was $4.119 billion; a figure that has shown steady increase over the years. Certainly, in the last decade the country has participated in two Summer Olympic Games – 2012, 2016 and was about to go to its third in 2020, now postponed to 2021.
The global impact is severe and already we are seeing fallouts from all the major leagues in every sport. All have had an impact on its salaries for its professional players, full and part time staff.
We now have to live through the memories of sport, games we all love so much.