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Aiming to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to event hosts, the IAEH surveyed its 41 member organisations across 22 countries from Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

Survey feedback showed;

• Significant impact of cancellations and postponement across the world
• 80% of members don’t yet have a date for when they expect ‘stadium’ events with an audience to re-commence
• Only 3 countries, and none in Europe and the Americas, already have guidance in place for staging spectator events in future
• The first events to return are expected to be;

– Professional sports/arts events behind closed doors
– Small local events with limited attendance
– Festivals and events which integrate an online presence

• Event hosts are actively supporting the event sector, through funding, multi-stakeholder collaboration and digital innovation

Continuing this discussion on the impacts of COVID-19, the IAEH will be hosting a free virtual ’round table’ WEBINAR on response strategies. IAEH members from Canada, United States, Scotland, Japan and New Zealand will be discussing  the current status and mid to long term solutions to mitigate the damage while supporting the recovery of the industry in the months and years ahead. REGISTER and join on 10th June at noon (BST).

Survey date: 28 April to 1 May 2020


The events industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sporting, cultural and business events have been
banned around the world to avoid further spreading of the coronavirus. IAEH members, who are not-for-profit organisations that represent cities, regions and countries that host major events, have been dealing with many postponements and cancellations, and working to mitigate the damages to the whole industry.




The damage caused by event postponements and cancellations varies according to the location and size of the host organisation but all have been affected. Members reported that events scheduled to take place even after this summer (Northern Hemisphere) and, in some cases, all the way until early 2021 have been postponed or cancelled.



Participants were asked to list the biggest challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis and some positive lessons learned from these difficult times.

The three biggest challenges created by COVID-19 as reported by IAEH members are:
1. The economic impacts of event postponements and cancellations, including job losses and expected future cost increases due to social distancing requirements.
2. The uncertainty about the short and long-term future, including current and future travel restrictions, making planning very difficult.
3. The shift in priorities of both individuals and organisations during the current crisis and in the post-pandemic world.

Lessons are certainly being learned through dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. When asked about anything positive they could take from this experience, members highlighted the following:
1. New ways of working and communicating that can have a positive impact not only reducing organisations’ expenses but also to the environment (e.g. positive climate effects with less travel).
2. Creative and innovative solutions that have been used to address the problems caused by the pandemic but that can be carried forward and applied to the industry post-pandemic. This includes a wider use of technology and the digitisation of events.
3. New and strengthened collaboration between local/national stakeholders, the results of which include revision of contracts, particularly force majeure clauses and insurance policy improvements.

The word cloud below summarises the survey responses.



This survey’s results also show the uncertainty of the situation which makes planning for the future a big challenge. The large majority (80%) of members who participated in the survey reported that there is no planning date for ‘stadium’ events with an audience to re-commence.

Different kinds of events may resume at different times. Members reported that the first events to return are likely to be:
1. Small outdoor events where physical distancing rules can be respected.
2. Professional sports or performing arts without an audience. Domestic competitions of individual sports such as golf, tennis and BMX could also be allowed soon.
3. Cultural, business and even sport events that are able to go online. Event digitalisation is a new trend and proving to be a valuable solution at least until social distancing rules are fully eased.


When events and larger gatherings are to be allowed again, new guidance on safety measures and protocols, such as hygiene standards and health checking, will need to be implemented. Survey participants highlighted the work of their governments in defining the new norms and reported that these had not yet been published at that time. Only 3 countries, and none in Europe or the Americas, have measures already in place, but those are being continuously updated to reflect the current situation in the specific location.


IAEH members indicated that they have established new ways of supporting the event industry in response to COVID-19. This included:
1. Funding to support event organisers or organisations servicing the events industry.
2. Initiatives to support events to go digital including local/national media campaigns to generate engagement and alternative sources of revenue from virtual events.
3. Cooperation between stakeholders to access local/national support initiatives seems critical. Members reported that new associations and platforms are being created to address the crisis and guarantee that the response is well coordinated.

IAEH members also reported a shift in event support objectives from focusing on events that drive visitation to focusing on events that primarily drive community benefits and showcasing opportunities.

For this survey’s technical information and questions/comments please email
The full results of the 2020 IAEH Members’ Survey is available for members only at

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