On Wednesday, amid growing concern over the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19” or “coronavirus”), the Italian government announced that all sporting events in Italy will resume. The catch? They will all take place behind closed doors—no spectators will be allowed to attend for at least the next month.
Italy, as the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, previously undertook drastic measures to slow the virus’ spread—closing all schools in the country, cancelling sporting events, and instituting bans on other public gatherings across the country.
While the epidemic has not yet reached similar proportions in the US, the virus’ spread has also not shown any sign of slowing down. Could similar measures be taken in the US? If so, what does this mean for event organizers and brand sponsors?
Brands pay big bucks—in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars—to sponsor high profile sporting, entertainment, and cultural events. What are the repercussions if event organizers are forced to cancel sponsored events because of the coronavirus outbreak? Does the analysis change if the events go on as scheduled, but spectators are banned from attending?