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By: Bill Buechner
Among many other more serious impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many prominent sporting events have been cancelled or postponed, including the NCAA Tournament, the Masters, the Kentucky Derby and the French Open tennis tournament. Also, all American professional sports leagues (except for the NFL) have suspended their seasons indefinitely or postponed the beginning of their seasons, including the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. Each of these scheduling changes has resulted in the loss or postponement of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
On April 1, Wimbledon announced the cancellation of its championship tennis tournament that was scheduled for June 29 to July 12 in London. However, unlike the other events and leagues mentioned above, Wimbledon reportedly purchased event cancellation coverage that includes coverage for an event cancellation caused by an infectious disease. (The British Open golf tournament, which has also been cancelled, also reportedly purchased pandemic insurance coverage). The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which operates the Wimbledon championships, apparently purchased pandemic insurance coverage about 18 years ago after the SARS outbreak in 2002. Neither the insurer nor the exact terms of the policy have been publicly disclosed, but several media reports indicate that Wimbledon paid an annual premium of approximately $2 million per year for comprehensive pandemic event cancellation coverage.
The UK Daily Mail has reported that Wimbledon will receive approximately $141 million under its pandemic event cancellation policy. Having paid approximately $34 million in premiums over the past 17 years, it appears that Wimbledon’s decision to purchase the infectious disease coverage will benefit Wimbledon to the tune of approximately $107 million. Media reports estimate that Wimbledon has received approximately $310 million in revenues from the tournament in recent years.
In contrast to Wimbledon, other events without similar insurance coverage, such as the Masters, the Kentucky Derby and the French Open, are scrambling to avoid or reduce massive losses by re-scheduling their events for the fall and hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over by then and that fans and viewers will attend and watch these sporting events during a different time of year than normal. Professional sports leagues without pandemic insurance coverage and hoping to limit or prevent substantial losses face uncertainty as to if or when they will be able to start their season (MLB and NFL) or if they will be able to complete their season, including playoffs (NBA, NHL, MLS).
The FMG Coronavirus Task Team will be conducting a series of webinars on Coronavirus issues on a regular basis. Topics include COVID-19’s impact on finances and loans, the FFCRA, the CARES Act and more. Click here to view upcoming webinars.
FMG has formed a Coronavirus Task Force to provide up-to-the-minute information, strategic advice, and practical solutions for our clients. Our group is an interdisciplinary team of attorneys who can address the multitude of legal issues arising out of the coronavirus pandemic, including issues related to Healthcare, Product Liability, Tort Liability, Data Privacy, and Cyber and Local Governments. For more information about the Task Force, click here.
You can also contact your FMG relationship partner or email the team with any questions at [email protected].
**DISCLAIMER: The attorneys at Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP (“FMG”) have been working hard to produce educational content to address issues arising from the concern over COVID-19. The webinars and our written material have produced many questions. Some we have been able to answer, but many we cannot without a specific legal engagement. We can only give legal advice to clients. Please be aware that your attendance at one of our webinars or receipt of our written material does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and FMG. An attorney-client relationship will not exist unless and until an FMG partner expressly and explicitly states IN WRITING that FMG will undertake an attorney-client relationship with you, after ascertaining that the firm does not have any legal conflicts of interest. As a result, you should not transmit any personal or confidential information to FMG unless we have entered into a formal written agreement with you. We will continue to produce education content for the public, but we must point out that none of our webinars, articles, blog posts, or other similar material constitutes legal advice, does not create an attorney client relationship and you cannot rely on it as such. We hope you will continue to take advantage of the conferences and materials that may pertain to your work or interests.**