The Council conclusions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery of the sport sector (June 2020) have recognized the importance to assess the possible effects of the crisis on the physical activity of citizens and on practising sport in sport clubs, as well as on the engagement of volunteers. As stated in conclusions, the sport sector has been severely hit by the pandemic, including in economic terms. The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating consequences on the entire sector at all levels, especially on sport organisations and clubs, leagues, fitness centres, athletes, coaches, sport staff, sport volunteers and sport-related business, including sport event organisers and sport media.
Council conclusions were adopted following the Position paper on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the sport sector. The Croatian Olympic Committee initiated the idea of a position paper within the SHARE Initiative, which was later supported and signed by a wide range of sport organisations in Europe.
As the crisis is spreading worldwide, the sport sector is closing down and sport clubs are no longer offering their services to citizens to avoid the spread of disease. A number of states are in lockdown, schools are closed and people are instructed to stay indoors as much as possible. As it is the case with employees in the sport sector, voluntary work has seized as well. Employees are working from home, coaches are no longer organising trainings, and volunteers who are a huge part of the sector are preoccupied with working from home and home-schooling children. It is understandable that their focus is elsewhere right now. The question is, are they going to return to the sport sector and voluntary work in sport after the pandemic is over.
A lot of disinformation is present in media with some experts saying that we are at the peak of pandemic crisis and others announcing even stricter measures and potentially catastrophic outcomes. Given the nature of the sport movement itself, one can hope that people are eager to go back to their way of life and start practicing sport or volunteering in sport. We don’t know, however, how long is it going to take to get there.
Media is full of predictions and one of them is that the service sectors such as tourism and sport which were hit the hardest are supposedly going to reopen just as easily as they were closed down. Given the specificity of the workforce in sport, meaning that the sport sector relies heavily on voluntary work, the recovery of the sector is going to depend on how many and how fast volunteers return to their voluntary work in sport.
Remembering the resilience of the sport sector in the last global crisis that started in 2007, there is reason to expect that the sector recovers fully from this crisis, too.