Reported by Wong Zi Ying and Sabrina Lee Wei Ling
On 18th of April 2021, RWC Community Series organised a Webinar titled “Revitalising Mass Participants Sports Event” via Facebook live. The discussion surrounded on the sports event which has mass participation and RWC was given the privilege of hosting 2 representatives who are part of the Sports Industry Coalition: Mr Lim Chong Ghee, the Regional Director of the World Endurance Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the owner and organisers of Ironman events in Malaysia and Mr Khoo Wei Siang from ChampionChip Sports Timers Sdn Bhd.
The webinar is covered in three-folds which are “What is the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic and after the lockdown”, “the impact on the peripheral of the sports economy” and in such a situation“How can we resolve the current situation”?
Definition of Mass Participation Sports Event
Generally, sports events can be classified into two categories which are spectator sporting event and participative sporting event. The participative sporting event can be further divided into another two segments which are the elite participation and public participation.
Mass participation sports event involves the public, whereby anybody who is interested can sign up to participate in sports. Mr Lim, who is one of the representatives of the Sports Industry Coalition (SIC) stated that SIC was formed in March 2021, consisting of more than 100 industry players and members. Members of SIC can share their opinions and voice up their concerns of the challenges faced during the pandemic. The representatives of SIC gathered all the information and statistics from the event organisers and through the owners of the event registration portal. The numbers of mass participation sports event and participants were significant before the pandemic hit our country. In 2019, there were about 3,000 mass participation sports event which fall mostly during the weekends, and it involved estimately 4.2 million participants. SIC also had conversed with Ministry Youth and Sports to reopen the mass participation sports event.
Impact on the peripheral of the sports economy
Mass participation sports event usually require a lot of manpower and resources, for instance, the IRONMAN Malaysia event requires 1,800 volunteers and crews over a span of 4 to 5 days or a bigger scale of sports event in KL requires up to 2,000 volunteers a day. According to the information from the SIC members, all the events have employed up to 300,000 full time and part time crews which includes volunteers and security guards. This forms a significant number of work opportunities in the workforce. There are multiple tiers in the workforce: first tier – the event organiser; second tier – the service provider (which provides raw materials or services) etc. However, if one tier does not progress, it will affect the whole supply chain as it is a domino effect. As a result, these groups of people went jobless. The government looks at SIC as a whole, they tend to forget that SIC is an independent body which is formed by multiple tiers of workforce.
Impact on sports tourism
With regards to domestic sports tourism, people are willing to travel to another states to participate in sport events, and this is a perfect weekend for a short staycation and food hunt. SIC had conducted a study on their members pertaining to the economic impact before the Covid-19. As a result, sports had made a significant economic impact to the country, whereby approximately 1.3 billion was contributed to the tourism industry in Malaysia. This significant economic contribution excludes the airfare tickets, the contribution of SST and the expenses of tourists.
Articulation and Advocation by SIC with the Ministry
There are more than 100 companies on SIC’s current member list which includes event organisers, vendors and suppliers from different companies. Nevertheless, all SIC members share the same goal and objective – “for the betterment of the sports” in the area of mass participation sport event.
Despite all the challenges faced, several fruitful discussions were held between SIC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as other ministries. SIC hopes to seek for the reopening of mass participation sports events in a gradual manner, without creating a new cluster or another outbreak. Event organisers must adhere to the strict standard of procedure (SOP), protocols and guidelines in order to achieve the outcome of the reopening of mass participation sport event.
SIC will continue to plead to the government when the number of covid cases decreases. SIC had put forward a few ideas when submitting the proposal to KBS, such as to start with a smaller scale of events adhering to strict SOP, different ways of flag-off and ensure that participants are physically distant from each other. Participants will be separated in groups and released in batches so that they can come in different timing. Besides, event organizers shall check the body temperature of all crews and participants to ensure that they are in good health and without any covid symptoms. All participants must wear their mask while queueing, and they are only allowed to remove the mask during flag-off. Participants are encouraged to bring their own hydration bag and the organiser will only provide a backup at the water station, if and only the participants run out of water. Upon the arrival at the finishing line, the participants are advised to leave the events spot and to avoid gathering.
In conclusion, it is important that event organisers and participants adhere to the SOP guidelines or restrictions as per Government’s guidelines. Since majority of the sports have been reopened, mass participation sports is the last in the queue. We strongly urged the Government to reconsider the activation of the mass participation sports event.
Published on 22 April 2021