ASIAN SPORTS: SOME THINGS JUST CAN’T THRIVE VIRTUALLY

GREGORY BENNETT WRITES – By now, we are all accustomed to watching sporting events with cardboard cutouts of faces in the stands and the sounds of exciting, virtual crowds blasting from stadium speakers.  But is it really as exciting as an in-person experience? Will these teams be able to support themselves without ticket sales, stadium vendors and fan support?

Stadiums have had to rely on outside sponsorships for continued monetary support.  But fans at stadiums bring additional revenue, not only through interior vendors but through post-game merchandise sales and events. Sadly, in July of 2020 the Chinese Super League-the major soccer league- kicked off its season with a fan-free stadium.

So now, teams are fearful of their profit loss margin.  Akane Okutsu, Rurika Imahashi, and CK Tan, staff writers from Nikkei.com, discussed `that prior to Covid19,  “Under normal circumstances, a typical match would attract an average crowd of 50,000, according to local media. Ticket prices are determined by each team’s ranking, so they vary.  But for one match in November, prices started at 150 yuan ($21).”

Now, as the pandemic seems to be more under control over time, teams are moving forward with limited occupancy seating policies.  Japan’s Pro Baseball league has allowed for just under half of the stadium seating to be filled with live fans.  This is an attempt at easing people back into stadiums so as to create avenues for revenue and decrease profit loss.

The disastrous decline of sports in Asia is mirrored around the world, especially in the United States, as teams have had to seek outside sponsors.  But as the pandemic seems to be more under control, limited seating will be slowly  introduced depending upon the severity and risk of Covid-19 in each particular region. Kouichi Wakaki, a professor at Japan’s Meisei University, warns the public of these hardships, stating “whether sports teams can withstand the current ordeal depends on how well governments [across Asia] can curb new infection and contain risks.”

As the world recovers unevenly, so does the universe of global sports.

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