Another insightful Strength in Numbers session this week and great to see so many new faces and countries on the sessions. Here are some highlights:
1. With lots of government restrictions in Hong Kong, only a few very small races are allowed to return. These restrictions include testing and regulation of the number of participants and runners (no more than 200).
2. There have been a number of positive signs in Asia last week as we note the events that have been happening including the Ho Chi Minh Marathon with over 10,000 participants, Buriram Marathon with 13,000 participants, Sands China Macau International 10K Race with over 9,000 participants and the Wuxi Marathon with 27,000 participants.
3. We’ve seen progress in Romania as the new regulations released by the Ministry of Sport included the approval of antigen tests, which previously only accepted PCR test results. With this new regulation, testing became more affordable as it only cost five Euros for an antigen test compared to the previous ones that could reach over 100 Euros per test. Vaccination is also moving fast as they are projecting to have vaccinated 10 million people by the end of August this year – which is the majority of the adult population. It’s also good to note that small events in the mountains with 100-150 people have also started happening.
4. There may be learnings we can pick up from watching the European Football Championships from 11 June to 11 July which will have spectators. In considering mass participation, what relevant information can we take from this that can help us progress in our industry?
5. Lebanon is still experiencing challenges with the slow rollout of vaccines combined with massive economic pressure and very little happening in the mass participation space. However, we also note that many private sports groups like the Lebanese Basketball Championships and the Lebanese Table Tennis Federation have started rolling out events. Hopefully, this paves the way for mass participation as we move forward.
6. We’ve also seen some different feedback on event cancellations. In the US, the organizers of a cancelled event felt that they “drained the haters” as they received less angry responses from participants who have been inconvenienced. The opposite, however, is happening in the Philippines as repeated event cancellations and postponements gave rise to many frustrated “haters” who do not understand and end up blaming the event organizers.
7. Organizers of an approved event in the US, which is scheduled in July, are currently facing two main challenges. As the event is in its 47th year, most of the experienced volunteers are already in their 60s and 70s. In engaging with the volunteers, they found that there is of course the fear of safety; and the second is the reluctance to adopt new ways of delivering the event from a Covid-19 safe perspective. Engagement, reselling, and retelling the story is key.
8. In Canada, there are still limited events happening in April, May, and June. The government, however, indicated that there is an “opportunity for an exemption”, but no clear guidelines as to what this means. Further, they’re saying that they are expecting a ‘normal summer’.
9. Question to the group (and in the industry generally): As we approach the first anniversary of Black Lives Matter, in terms of diversity and inclusion, what are events and organizations doing – which is authentic support and not just seen to be jumping on to the bandwagon to look like they’re supporting something which they’ve done nothing about – to potentially make a statement in terms of their support for diversity and inclusion?
10. In the Philippine sports industry, many amateur leagues are now turning professional, as this allows them to apply for a government license. Volleyball, basketball, and the like now have an opportunity to return with a pro license that gives them government consideration. This may be seen as an opportunity for mass participation in other countries.
11. Events in Australia continue to make their comebacks albeit with social distancing. General feedback from participants indicates that there is no significant difference between the vibe and experience. There were some examples of events that were cancelled at short notice with snap lockdowns, it realized the great collaboration between events and suppliers. Suppliers recognized that without the events, they don’t have clients. We also note the lasting legacy of race directors and event organizers as they collaborate on calendar dates to minimize clashes; as well as good collaboration with government councils in finding new dates.
12. There was an indication of staff burnout as they face the challenge of being on a never-ending treadmill of uncertainty over return dates. In instances where events now have the green light, the staff are hugely excited but are concerned as well as they are intimidated by the huge amount of added work on requirements to put up events. Nevertheless, they are overwhelmingly excited to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they are finally able to move forward.
13. To address issues around the staffing issue, it was suggested to check out a great podcast called “At the Table”. One great article is the “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.
14. There were also challenges with numerous event dates offered by councils, that ultimately end up clashing with other events, creating PR issues within the community. One notable example is that the Boston Marathon was discovered that their nee assigned date clashes with Indigenous Day, which means that a number of events will have to be postponed or disrupted due to road closures. This created a significant PR challenge for Boston Marathon organizers. Do as much research as you can before you finalize or reschedule an event.
Join us on 26 and 27 April for the next Strength in Numbers session: