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Game for profit

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on July 25, 2014 Published on July 25, 2014

Joint ventures: The CWG in Glasgow, Scotland, hopes to generate advertisingand tourism revenues for the host and new business opportunities among theparticipating countries   -  Wiki Commons

Global sporting events are increasingly turning venues for investment and trade promotion

The action on sporting fields is now spilling over into the backrooms as well. Global sporting events — be it the recently concluded football world cup in Brazil, the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Scotland or the ICC cricket world cup in Australia and New Zealand in February — are increasingly turning venues for business and trade promotion.

World events like these have long been known to generate big business from tourism and advertising. Manchester, for instance, attracted 10 lakh visitors over the 10 days it hosted the 2002 CWG. More importantly, in a spinoff effect, an additional 3 lakh have since visited the city annually, generating nearly £46 million in revenue.

Similarly, the 2006 CWG fetched Melbourne about £150 million in tourism revenue, according to KPMG.

Besides selling one million tickets for the 250 medal events contested by 6,500 athletes, this year’s CWG in Scotland is being beamed across the 71 participating countries which, between them, account for nearly a third of the world’s population.

And the ICC cricket world cup will be watched globally by over one billion, apart from the thousands enjoying it live in Australia and New Zealand.

Kickoff for revenues

But countries are now realising that these events hold out business opportunities way beyond just tourism and advertising. So, for instance, Hero MotoCorp created a huge hype in Brazil during the football world cup days after it announced the setting up of a manufacturing plant in Colombia as part of its expansion into South America. Brazil, says Pawan Munjal, managing director and chief executive officer of Hero MotoCorp, is a market that his company plans to enter in 2016, in time for the Summer Olympics hosted by Rio De Janeiro between August 5 and 21.

At the CWG, Scotland has hosted a business conference at Glasgow University addressed by global luminaries such as the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and English business magnate Richard Branson, and attended by over 200 CEOs and heads of governments, including China and European countries. Currently, trade within the Commonwealth is estimated at £300 billion annually, and the conference looked for ways to augment this. The focus was on issues and opportunities common to all countries, such as employment and skills, infrastructure development, financial services and the development of smart cities.

Creating common wealth

Further, the Scotland House Conference Centre is hosting 11 business event programmes showcasing key sectors such as food and drink, renewable energy, oil and gas, financial services and creative energies, besides cross-sector opportunities such as global sporting events.

Workshops and events scheduled around the CWG this month promote partnerships between different sectors and assist companies venturing into new markets.

Linda Murray, Director 2014, Scottish Enterprise, sees events such as the CWG as a good opportunity to develop new relations with countries and entities and strengthen existing ones. “If we think of Africa, it is a relatively untapped market for Scotland, and the Games provide a great opportunity to try and build strong relationships, particularly around oil and gas and energy,” she says.

Meanwhile, in February, Australia and New Zealand will be in focus not only among cricket fans but also various businesses in India. Match Australia, a government programme that connects Australian businesses with global partners through major sporting events, is lining up events to promote opportunities in trade, investment, and the education and tourism sectors.

Calling ‘ Swamy Army

“For each match, we will focus on holding a series of business round tables, where we hope to have top Indian and Australian businesses talk about how they can collaborate and form joint ventures and also supply one another with new products and services,” says Nicola Watkinson, Austrade’s senior trade and investment commissioner for South Asia.

A range of industry sectors will be in focus. “Premium food and wine, particularly for South Australia, and also resources and energy, IT particularly in Victoria… and areas such as education and research,” Watkinson elaborates. There will be tailored visits and meetings for each Indian delegate arriving in Australia during the cricket world cup.

The organisers also plan to hold a golf tournament that will pit former Indian Test greats against their Australian counterparts.

The 49 cricket world cup matches will be divided between venues across the countries of Australia and New Zealand.

The 44-day event will start on a Saturday, but for fans from the Indian subcontinent the real action will begin the next day when arch rivals India and Pakistan battle in a day-and-night match at the Adelaide Oval.

The organisers are hoping a record crowd will turn out to watch it live. According to one of the organisers, South Australia is hoping that just as England arrives with its Barmy Army, India will come with its own ‘Swamy Army’ to help break the record set for the largest number of spectators at an Adelaide match during the 1932 Bodyline series.

Published on July 25, 2014
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