Will Pandemic Insurance Preserve Sports Again This Year?

The landscape has changed in 2021

Empty seats
Empty seats during the MLB game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals on July 27, 2020.
Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last year, as sporting events were canceled right and left due to the spread of COVID-19, high-profile tournaments like March Madness and Wimbledon found some relief from what could have been a painful financial situation. At the heart of this solution was pandemic insurance, something most casual sports fans were likely unaware of prior to 2020.

For all that leagues and organizations took a financial hit last year from canceled events and absent fans, it could have been worse — but with many of the same entities facing similar questions this year, pandemic insurance may no longer be a guarantee for some of them.

A comprehensive article at The New York Times by Alan Blinder and Kevin Draper provides more context. The NCAA, for instance, received $270 million after canceling last year’s Division I men’s basketball tournament. Wimbledon’s payout for the canceled tournament last year is in the neighborhood of $140 million. All of that represents good news for the organizations in question.

Whether or not the organizations will have similar coverage this year is less clear, though. Blinder and Draper point out that event cancellation insurance often covers spans of time ranging from 1 to 3 years. The NCAA is in the third year of their current policy; Wimbledon, however, is not covered for disease-related cancellations this year.

Unsurprisingly, insurance companies are offering far less event cancellation insurance for pandemics — and what is being offered, according to the article, is far more expensive than it was in the past. The other significant variable here? Whether or not the Tokyo Olympics will be held this year. A complex situation may yet become even more complex in the coming months.

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