Elite Sport is set to bounce back in 2021

2021 has the potential to be a year like no other for Sports Fans around the globe. It is packed out with major sporting events as the likes of the 2020 Olympics have been rescheduled to 2021 and the return of many sporting events who fell victim to COVID-19 in 2020, including the Wimbledon Championships. The British Tennis Major was cancelled in 2020, for the first time since 1945 during World War II.

The mainstream sports managed to bounce back in 2020. These wealthy sports could afford to pour resources to create and implement contingency plans to ensure the 2020 seasons were safely complete. But this wasn’t the case for the majority of elite sports. The majority of elite sports abandoned the 2020 seasons, setting the focus on 2021 leaving their elite athletes in the dark for the remainder of 2020.

2021 is set to be a year where we will see Elite Sport bounce back from COVID-19. But it is not all plain sailing as we are seeing sports struggle to overcome disruptions and sporting events already being postponed due to COVID-19. The Australian Open due to take place next month is currently struggling to contain the virus. Players, officials and other staff must quarantine upon arrival before entering the bubble.

Rugby shows how fragile elite sport is to COVID-19

Another prime example closer to home is Ireland Women’s 15. 2021 is a massive year for women’s rugby as the 2021 World Cup set to take place in New Zealand. The team’s preparations have been set back multiple times this year already. The Irish Women are yet to qualify for the World Cup and the final qualification round was due to take place in 2020. The Qualification Round has been postponed to a later date in 2021. On top of this, the Six Nations have also been postponed to a later date.

With the calendar being pushed back, it is set to be a relentless year. Sport Endorse are following the developments closely as there is a wealth talent in the squad including Eimear Considine and Nichola Fryday.

COVID-19 has also effected men’s rugby. With rumours of the Guinness Pro 14 season scrapping the newly formed Rainbow Cup and returning to a playoff format. Internationally, the EPCR has been forced to postpone all European Rugby Cup due to the French clubs dropping out of the tournament. Luckily, though the men’s Six Nations is going ahead. Sport Endorse star James Lowe has been selected for the upcoming tournament, where he will look to build on his Ireland Men’s Rugby debut in November.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS sees victory in eSports

In 2020, we also saw sports get creative and incorporate technology into the sport. A perfect example is Pro Cycling. The Tour de France hosted a virtual event of the race. The virtual event took place over three weekends in July with 6 stages and a total of 39 teams competing across the men’s and women’s races. Sport Endorse partners Team Qhubeka ASSOS (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) won the men’s event. The stages were streamed on Youtube.

Read more about Sport Endorse and Team Qhubeka Assos HERE

But they didn’t stop there. It wouldn’t be a Tour de France without the famous L’Etape du Tour de France. A virtual L’Etape was organised too. L’Etape allows amateur riders to take on a Tour de France stage every year with an estimated 15,000 riders making up the peloton.

Check out the 2020 Virtual Tour de France teaser below!

Cycling was not the only sport which dived into the virtual world of eSports. Formula 1 organised virtual races on the F1 video game. The event saw F1 stars such as Lando Norris take on fans, streamers and eSport F1 pros. Norris has since bought into the idea of eSports setting up his own team called Quadrant.

A second chance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

By far the largest event to fall victim to COVID-19 was the 2020 Olympics. The announcement sent shockwaves around the world and it affected elite athletes all over the globe. Whether the announcement was a positive or negative is dependent on the athlete and their personal circumstances.

For example, Sport Endorse athletes Liam Jegou (C1 Canoe Slalom), Jack Wooley (Taekwondo) and Nhat Nguyen (Badminton) are making the most of it. Using the enforced lockdown as a chance to train for an extended period time. Their hard work is paying off as Liam qualified for the games with a gold medal at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup last year (A first for Ireland), Jack has qualified and is the first Irishman to compete in Taekwondo at the Olympics and Nhat has recently been selected for the FBD ‘Make a Difference’ Programme. The programme aims to financially assist Irish athletes on their journey to the Olympics. Nhat is currently sitting in a qualification position for the games. Nhat is ranked 25th out of the 38 qualification places available.

Check out Liam Jegou’s winning run at the Canoe Slalom World Cup below!

Jason Quigley gets back in the Ring

Pro Boxing is set to make a comeback in 2021 as professionals like Sport Endorse’s Jason Quigley can schedule and travel for events. Jason is set to fight Shane Mosley Jr. in March. Jason is a boxer in his prime and is looking to become a contender for the World Title. With chances to move into contention in 2020 non-existent, Jason quickly put his sights on 2021. Jason has kept in shape by training with the expectations of a fight materialising at any time. Finally it has materialised and Jason has a 10-month training camp under his belt. The fight will be Jason’s most important to date. Jason is in the best shape of his life and is looking forward to getting back in the ring next month to add another win to his 18-1 record.

COVID-19 has only upped the pressure for elite athletes and elite sport. Being highly competitive and cutthroat as an industry, the importance of performance and success has only grown over the last year. Athletes need support not only from fans but financial support as they navigate these unpredictable times. It is important brands embrace opportunities to support elite sports.

To learn more about the importance of your brand’s role in elite sport, Check out our blog ‘Elite Sport presents challenges for Irish Athletes’. Or take inspiration from our Case Studies as to how you can incorporate elite athletes into your brand’s campaign!

The goal of the Sport Endorse Platform is to facilitate athletes in devoting as much time as possible to getting better performances, and to spend less time searching for necessary funding/support. Sport Endorse support the elite athletes during and beyond their sporting careers. The Sport Endorse Platform is the perfect tool for brands as it provides them with easy access to a catalogue of elite talent from their computer. Brand’s can connect directly with over 650 elite athletes and post opportunities for athletes to apply for.