Will the postponed Tokyo Olympics help kick start Japan’s economy, or will it push it even further into financial ruin? What will sports look like when they return after the coronavirus-induced shutdown?
The Associated Press recently sought the insight of Victor Matheson, professor of economics at Holy Cross and a renowned sports economist, on this issue. Matheson, who has authored a study with colleague Robert Baumann on the impact of foreign tourism on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, holds the general belief that “in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for host cities.”
“If Tokyo is hoping that a surge of tourism is going to cover the costs of moving the games by a year, they are likely to be very disappointed,” said Matheson.
Media around the world have been turning to Matheson to weigh in on the economic implications of the coronavirus on the business of sport, as well as its future post-pandemic.
In a story for UK’s The Telegraph, Matheson estimated that, for as long as sport is on hold, “at least 90% of this industry revenue is lost,” a significant number when you consider that sports competitions are thought to generate around $90 billion a year worldwide.
“In the past we’ve celebrated sports as a great return to normal,” Matheson said in a Reuters interview, but “I think it will be a much more muted atmosphere (this time) because you’re going to be looking at that person in the seat next to you.”
And when asked specifically by ESPN on the potential impact on Major League Soccer, Matheson seemed optimistic about its future. “At this point, every owner has hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, either in the form of expansion fee or in a stadium or some combination of the two. There are a couple billion reasons why MLS owners aren’t going to walk away.”
Reuters, Mar. 13
USA Today, Mar. 15
The Telegraph, Apr. 11
ESPN, Apr. 15
Associated Press, Apr. 17
Nikkei Asian Review, Apr. 22
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