The coronavirus outbreak has thrown Singapore’s mass running event calendar into disarray.
The May 23 Osim Sundown Marathon, which drew 25,000 runners last year, has been cancelled.
Next month’s 2XU Compression Run, which had about 16,000 participants a year ago, has been postponed to May 31.
With Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warning on Thursday the pandemic will continue a year or longer, the number of mass runs in Singapore this year could shrink significantly from last year’s 116.
To stem the spread of the Covid-19 disease, the Singapore Government announced additional measures on Friday.
Among them were that ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events, with 250 participants or more, must be deferred or cancelled.
For events that have already been committed to, organisers must demonstrate that satisfactory precautionary measures have been put in place before they can proceed.
These developments have cast more doubt over mass runs here, with the market set to take a financial hit. For example, the Sundown Marathon, which was expecting a similar turnout to last year, cost over $1 million to organise.
James Walton, the sports business group leader at Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia, believes the sports industry would be impacted in a similar way to the retail and food and beverage sectors as people are avoiding mass events.
He said: “The situation is evolving rapidly. The people most affected are some of those who are gig-economy workers like students and emcees, who work on these events.
“The event management companies will struggle. It does cut across all sections of the economy, so it’s difficult to put a number (on the total figure) at the moment.”
The situation is evolving rapidly. The people most affected are some of those who are gig-economy workers like students and emcees, who work on these events.
JAMES WALTON, Deloitte Singapore and South-east Asia sports business group leader, on the impact of the virus on the mass run industry here.
At this point in time, you can’t be selfish about the financial impact and implications but there’s also some sort of a business obligation to keep people in jobs.
R. SASIKUMAR, Red Card Global founder, on going ahead with events with proper preventive measures in place.
For Sundown organisers, public health and safety has always been their priority. Said spokesman Mark Phua: “Every year, Sundown attracts runners from over 30 countries. This also means it elevates the health risk above all other public outings.”
Other promoters are monitoring the situation closely.
The JP Morgan Corporate Challenge on April 8 was deferred to Nov 26 while the Home Team NS Adventure Race (March 21) and the Terry Fox Singapore Run (March 22) were postponed indefinitely.
The Income Eco Run on April 26, which had close to 9,000 runners last year, is “currently assessing the evolving Covid-19 situation” and a decision will be made in the coming weeks, said its spokesman.
R. Sasikumar, founder of sports marketing agency Red Card Global, said it is not all doom and gloom for those who choose to go ahead with their events.
He added: “No one wants bad things to happen to people but there are also things to consider when you are running a large-scale event.
“There’s a lot of preparation, resources and money poured into it. At this point in time, you can’t be selfish about the financial impact and implications but there’s also some sort of a business obligation to keep people in jobs.”
He stressed, however, it was important for organisers to take extra steps to reduce the risk of transmission if they proceed with their runs.
Some events like the MetaSprint series, which held the duathlon race of its three-category (aquathlon, duathlon and triathlon) programme last Sunday, conducted temperature screening for all participants and accompanying family members.
They were also required to fill up a travel declaration form before entering the venue at the F1 Village.
Participants said these actions offered reassurance.
National triathlete Emma Middleditch, 17, who was the women’s champion, said: “I contacted Metasport several weeks before to ask about mitigation plans and was satisfied with their plans and the way they were handling the situation.
“The website and race briefing provided plenty of clear and precise information on Covid-related measures they were putting in place.”
Adopting a virtual race approach could be an alternative solution to mass runs, said Walton.
For example, the Star Wars virtual run, which will take place in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, is based on this concept.
Runners picked a selected distance, download an app which has a tracker to record their mileage – clocked either on the treadmill or outdoors – and must complete the total distance by a certain deadline.
Walton added: “You can run a marathon wherever you want to and get your medal, so that people get that motivation that they get from sports in a much safer way.”
Have a question on the coronavirus outbreak? E-mail us at [email protected]
To get alerts and updates, follow us on Telegram.
Source: Read Full Article