2020 was a tough year for everyone, and this was reflected across the whole international sporting landscape. League championships ended early — with much controversy in many locations across the world, tournaments and events were canceled or postponed, and sports fans were left in a state of perpetual uncertainty about what would come next.
Fortunately, 2020 is now behind us, and everything has gone back to normal as promised in 2021. Except, it hasn’t gone back to normal, has it? International sporting events are still in disarray as organizers desperately try to get competition back on track.
Continuing Problems for International Events
South America’s festival of soccer, the Copa America, is now on the rocks after host Argentina was forced to suspend its domestic league. As of late May, plans have been mooted to move the whole thing to the US — a huge logistical undertaking.
In Europe, with the continent only weeks away from hosting its own major tournament, there is still speculation over which nations will be able to host games, with Ireland and Spain reluctant to commit to hosting large numbers of fans inside their stadia. Meanwhile, the final of Europe’s premier club soccer tournament, the Champions League, has been forced to switch venues from Turkey to Portugal after health and safety concerns in Istanbul.
The delayed Olympic Games is also scheduled to take place this year, but 83% of those polled in host nation Japan say they don’t want to hold the games.
And it’s not only Covid-19 that is causing problems. The human rights situation in Qatar could see several top nations
— including Norway and Germany — boycotting the World Cup, due to be held next year in the Middle Eastern nation.
How Does This Affect Gambling in Sporting Events?
First of all, the good news for the industry is that most of these events will still be going ahead in one way or another. The last year has shown that international governing bodies can hold major competitions even without fans present. While this is not an ideal scenario, it does allow for an element of continuity, as events do not need to be canceled outright. For non-Covid-related issues, there is still time to find a workable solution for the situation in Qatar, and the tournament may even be moved to a less contentious location.
What’s more, the increasingly online world of gambling is proving very resilient indeed. If necessary, customers can still practice social distancing while enjoying responsible gambling. This should provide a major boost for the industry during difficult times.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. While sports fans are hungry for international tournament action, reduced capacities and organizational uncertainty are threatening to pour cold water over the whole thing. As we’ve seen in Japan, interest in events such as the Olympics — usually the flagship of international sporting excellence — has waned significantly over the last year and a half. If there is a general lack of enthusiasm for the return of global competition, this is not good news for the gambling industry. Gambling providers may find themselves dealing with a shortfall in profits, compounding the struggles of the last 18 months.
2021 could be the year that international sports events get back on track in a big way, and organizers are certainly working hard to make this happen. Whether their efforts are successful, however, remains to be seen.