Coronavirus could make Olympics 'economically unviable'

24 October 2020, 23:23

Dame Katherine Grainger is chair of UK Sport and an Olympic gold medallist
Dame Katherine Grainger is chair of UK Sport and an Olympic gold medallist. Picture: PA

Coronavirus could make the Olympics economically unviable in the future, the chair of UK Sport has told LBC's Ruth Davidson.

Speaking on An Inconvenient Ruth, former Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger said the devastation caused by the pandemic could wreak havoc on ticket sales, of which the sport event relies on heavily.

Ruth asked: "If you can't have crowds then they become even less financially viable and why would people host them if it will bankrupt their country?"

Dame Katherine replied: "Yeah and long before this pandemic struck us all, we're getting more challenged by countries willing to host those big global events because of the enormous costs that are associated with it and the ongoing impact they can have on the host country and the host city."

Read more: Wales brings 'fire-breaker' lockdown into force to curb Covid-19

The former gold-medallist reflected on how the Olympics could change could respond to the new challenges to keep the game running.

One of her suggestions was to perhaps pick one place, perhaps Athens when the games originated, to become the permanent venue.

She added: "We all talk about how this pandemic will change us longer-term and where we can find some sort of benefit from the awful stuff that's happened to people's lives.

Read more: Millions of people in England and Wales face tougher covid rules

"Is it time to have a fresh look at how to minimise the cost of bidding for the Olympic Games?

"There's huge benefits that come with it but what you don't want to bring is this cricus of the Olympic and Paralympic games and then leave and leave anywhere worst off for having hosted it."

Ruth mentioned how New Zealand was able to hold full-capacity rugby matches at stadiums and other countries such as Germany able to hold thousands of spectators.

"It's just not safe to do that at the moment," said Katherine, "But I think ticket sales in this country could make or break them."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify