The economic impact of the 2020 UCI Cyclo-cross and Track Cycling World Championships

Mar 9, 2021, 14:00 PM

The UCI World Championships and UCI World Cup competitions held in 2020 brought together 4,000 athletes from 82 countries at 38 events organised in 20 countries, as revealed by a report conducted by the professional services firm EY and commissioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of world cycling.

The coronavirus pandemic had a very significant impact on the 2020 UCI International Calendar, with more than half the events on it having to be cancelled. The figure varied between 26% and 72% across cycling’s disciplines, with nearly 60% of road events being called off. Meanwhile, 64% of UCI series events (UCI World Cups, UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour) were cancelled.

The 2020 UCI World Championships for cyclo-cross and track cycling took place before Covid-19 restrictions came into effect in March. Several other major UCI World Championships, such as those for road and mountain bike, went ahead later in the season, albeit in different formats devised in response to the global pandemic. These events were able to take place thanks to the strict health protocols put in place by the UCI, which were observed by all the parties concerned. The end of the year even saw a first for cycling with the organisation of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, also staged in a revised format.

Thanks to the popularity of the UCI World Championships with athletes, teams, National Federations, partners, the media and the general public, host cities and regions were rewarded for their commitment to staging the events, not least in terms of their local economies and image.

The report, commissioned by the UCI and prepared by EY for the third year running, explores the very positive economic impact of the 2020 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships on Dübendorf (Switzerland) and of the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot on Berlin (Germany). The UCI’s aim is to have economic impact reports for as many of its World Championships as possible in the future.

The report revealed that the UCI World Championships for cyclo-cross and track cycling generated a combined total of nearly 6 million euros in additional economic activity for the two host cities and regions.

The 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot, which took place in the German capital between 26 February and 1 March, are a good example of this additional activity:

-  a total of 20,000 spectators attended the event, some 9,500 of them unique spectators, along with more than 1,000 athletes and team members from 45 countries, and more than 300 representatives of the media. The average stay was four nights and the daily spend per visitor was 96 euros;

-  the event contributed around 2.7 million euros to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the city and region, equivalent to 101 jobs (over a year);

- the UCI World Championships experience in Berlin met the expectation of the vast majority of visitors: 92% of those surveyed said that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied”;

-  the event was broadcast widely on TV (with a cumulative audience of 196 million across 98 countries) and received significant coverage on social media (7.4 million impressions on Instagram, 3.5 million on Twitter, and 9.9 million people reached on Facebook).

UCI President David Lappartient said: “Even though the Covid-19 crisis seriously affected the 2020 season, the UCI events that did take place were very successful in both sporting and financial terms. The report compiled by EY with the support of our Federation highlighted the extremely positive impact that our World Championships had on host cities and their regions. As the report shows, the UCI Cyclo-cross and Track Cycling World Championships made significant contributions to local economies, in terms of cycling and visitors.  

Peter Arnold, UK&I Partner, Economic Advisory, at EY, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic made 2020 an especially challenging year. As we look to recover from the pandemic, our review of UCI events held in early 2020 reminds us of the benefits that cycling can offer. These include uniting people to celebrate sporting achievement, which inspires wider engagement with cycling, and attracting visitors to host regions, with the consequent economic benefits .”

Union Cycliste Internationale – Events economic impact report – Annual review of 2020