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Sports in empty stadiums: the impact

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, live sports were impacted in many significant ways. This article describes the effect of playing sports in empty stadiums.

Vihaan Bharwani

While sports resumed on the field in different parts of the world, the one significant change was the absence of spectators to view matches, in order to curb the spread of the virus. This impacted several parties - while for some it was a nightmare (such as stadium organizers, players, and the fans themselves), for broadcasting companies it was a blessing in disguise.

The ban of spectators during cricket matches had an adverse impact on the stadium organizers. No fans means no ticket sales, no food sales, no merchandise sales. This impacts a very diverse range of people such as hotel staff, security staff, stadium staff, stall owners selling food and other products like jerseys. This impact comes in the form of no revenues to companies, stadiums and hotels and unemployment for many of their staff.

The absence of crowds also affects the players psychologically as they are used to playing in the center of loud, packed stadiums. The now awkward silence and the missing chants, support, and sounds, feel very strange to them and could hamper their performances. What the crowds also did was give their support and encouragement to the teams which made, in some cases, the difference between winning and losing. As Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli stated, “the magic will be missed”. Although virtual crowd noises have been introduced lately, it is definitely not a like-for-like solution.

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And of course, not to forget, the fans themselves, some of whom are die-hard fans of sports, and how they will be impacted by the absence of their most enjoyable entertainment. While some routinely attend matches, others choose times to view, and this would have been tough to all who had wished to watch matches and events in the stadium. Take the Olympics, for instance, which occurs once every 4 years. Fans, who spend loads to cheer for their country, were deprived of their entertainment.

The one segment of the world it does benefit, though, are broadcasting companies. The decreased viewership of matches in the stadium and a corresponding increase in television viewership due to the lockdown helped these companies to attract more sponsors and advertisers.

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