Sports Event Tracker: July 13 update

Two Circles analysts track the number of sports events taking place globally against an originally-scheduled, pre-Covid-19 sporting calendar. Only events for professional, competitive sports events with a projected paid ticketed attendance of at least 5,000 (pre-Covid-19) are considered.

Update: July 13
Time period: January 1-July 12, 2020
Originally scheduled number of events:
Actual number of events taken place: 12,532 (48.8%)

2020 Global Sports Calendar (Cumulative Weekly Events)

Sport’s return in North America defies growing US Covid cases

The proportion of sports events that took place in the United States and Canada compared to the pre-Covid-19 calendar rose to 41% last week; though lower than the worldwide average of 84%, this was the highest level since March 9-15 and up from 33% the week before.

The US has both the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world, and despite new cases having plateaued at around 20,000 a day in May, the number began rising in June and now exceeds 60,000 per day. Comparatively, in Canada – which has teams in all US major sports leagues bar the National Football League – there were only 565 new cases recorded on July 13 according to Worldometer (versus 65,488 for the US).

The increase in sports events last week was due primarily to the return of Major League Soccer on July 8 in a spectator-less ‘bubble’ at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Eight matches of the ‘MLS is Back Tournament’ took place over the course of the week, with 18 scheduled for this week.

The tournament format features a group stage, which will count towards standings in the 2020 MLS regular season that was suspended after 26 games. Following the group stage, 16 teams will advance to the knockout stage that will culminate in a tournament final on August 11. Following the tournament, the MLS regular season will resume with a revised schedule, concluding with the play-offs and the 2020 MLS Cup.

Originally, all 26 MLS teams were due to participate in the tournament (23 from the US and three from Canada), but FC Dallas and Nashville SC withdrew after several players tested positive for Covid-19.

Next week, with the long-awaited return of Major League Baseball on July 23, the proportion of events taking place (versus the pre-Covid-19 calendar) is projected to increase to 75%. A full regular season, where each team would play 162 games, was originally scheduled to begin on March 26, but the new shortened season will see each team play 60 regular season games.

In the other major leagues, the current NBA regular season – which was originally scheduled to end on April 15 but was suspended in March – will resume on July 30, also in a bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 2020 season of the Women’s NBA (WNBA) will resume five days earlier in a bubble at the IMG Academy in Florida.

The NHL – whose current season began on October 2 last year – has decided not to complete its regular season and instead will resume on August 1 with an expanded 24-team Stanley Cup play-off at two Canadian hubs, Edmonton and Toronto. The season will reach its Stanley Cup Finals climax in Edmonton in early October.

The NFL, which had completed its season weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, will start its new season on September 10.

2020 Sports Calendar (Proportion of Weekly Events vs Pre-CV19 Schedule)
Previous Sports Event Tracker updates:
July 6: Japan to welcome fans from Friday following staggered sporting return
June 29: German sport weathers Covid storm with Bundesliga completions
June 22: Sport returns to China after five-month hiatus
June 15: Football and Royal Ascot put UK sport on road to normality
June 8: Football return boosts Portugal’s Covid-19 recovery
June 1: Germany leading European race to sporting normality