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Summer of reimagined sports

We previously explored how after weeks of lockdown, certain sports returned to competition. But with the Australian Summer of sports ahead we look at some of the inspired innovations reshaping these events both here and abroad.

Spring racing carnival

This time of year sees thousands of people rush to the race track for Spring Carnival and the many race days around it. And although racing has been one of the only sports that has been able to keep open throughout the year, it’s been without crowds and with heavy restrictions.

This year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival is set to look very different with restrictions in Melbourne meaning crowds are likely not going to be allowed. Fashion lovers however, are still going to be able to participate in Myer’s new take on Fashions on the field, with the COVID friendly - ‘Fashions on your Front Lawn’. The competition, will live completely online and look for participants to submit their entires as portfolios, videos and photos. Influencers have been promoting the competition on social and encouraging people to enter the competition.

In Sydney however, Randwick races have started allowing limited crowds to return with the first race day occurring over the weekend.


With the AFL players observing a season of very strict protocols, certain stadiums have started allowing crowds, with the elimination final seeing over 30,000 in attendance at Optus Stadium. In order to control the risk of infection, stadiums have also implemented zones, each with their own food, drink and bathrooms to reduce movement of patrons.

The Brownlow, which usually takes place in Melbourne, will this year take part online as a virtual event in what they are calling a 'Made for TV' event. Fans are also being asked to dress up for the occasion and join the #BackyardBrownlow tag on social.

The Grand Final which is still a few weeks away is set to be a ‘uniquely Queensland’ event with local dancers and performers including The Queensland Symphony Orchestra performing the national anthem. It's not all bad news for Melbourne fans, as Dan Andrews gives pubs a tentative go ahead to start taking reservations for the big day.


NBA & NFL use contact tracing

In order to enforce additional safety protocols, the NFL & NBA used Kinexon’s Safezone tags a wearable device to monitor physical interaction between players, staff and media. The small device beeps when social distancing was compromised and provided contact tracing data in case a player tested positive.

Source: Kinexon via CNBC

Virtual fans & sounds

A lot of leagues have also opted for virtual fans like the NBA who teamed up with Microsoft to enhance the experience. Music & announcers are also being used at games to try and replicate the usual sounds from a regular game. The MBL opting to use crowd sound effects from their virtual video game to mimic the experience for both players and viewers watching from home.

Source: Fox sports

Formula 1

The cancelled Melbourne Grand Prix marked the start of lockdowns in Australia back in March. Since then, after a few weeks of shuffling events, new protocols and testing, Formula 1 resumed in July for the 2020 season. In order to reduce risk, teams made bubbles of up to 12 people, who weren’t allowed to mix with another bubble. And although races have returned, the weeks of breaks meant some events were left cancelled.

Formula 1 has also embraced esports with this year’s events being weaved through the weeks were an F1 race isn’t taking place. This year’s Esports Pro series is the biggest to date with over 237,000 racers attempting to qualify – up from 109,000 in 2019, and with a cash prize of $750,000.

Tennis misses the crowds

The US Open went ahead without spectators, with the only crowd allowed as family and workers of the event. And the French Open is currently running with 1,000 spectators a day due to France's recent second wave. However, it's good news for Aussie fans as top players have been confirmed for this summer's Australian Open. The event set to go ahead with 25-50% capacity.

Source: NY Times

Sylvia Jahn

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