Business Continuity Implications of Major Sporting Events


By predicting and preparing for implications relating to major sporting events being held in Europe this year, businesses can better navigate the challenges posed by large public events, exploit opportunities, and ensure continuity of operations.

With only a month until the football Euros in Germany and just over two months until the Olympic Games in Paris it is worth considering the business continuity implications of such events. Here are ten areas which may be worth considering in advance of these, or similar, events:

1. Infrastructure Strain and Traffic Congestion. International travellers to Europe may well extend their visit and include a trip to the UK. Whatever the occasion, a large influx of visitors is likely to lead to overcrowded transportation systems and congested roads, affecting the mobility of employees, delivery of goods, and general logistics. For an event that is planned to last for weeks, this represents a disruption event rather than a minor irritation. This may be mitigated by organisations considering the implementation of flexible work schedules, remote work policies, and alternative delivery routes and times to maintain operations.

2. Security Concerns. The heightened security measures and potential threats (e.g., terrorism, cyber-attacks) can disrupt normal business activities. Additionally, the gathering of large groups in ‘fanzones’ or around outside screens can bring additional security or crowd control issues. To combat these factors, it is worth considering enhanced security protocols, cyber defences, and, of course, working with event organisers and local authorities to ensure that business operations remain secure.

3. Supply Chain Disruptions. In addition to the infrastructure and traffic issues highlighted above, the reallocation of resources and logistical challenges can disrupt supply chains, leading to delays and shortages. Even a shortage in one area can have knock-on effects on others, such as the CO2 shortage that impacted drink supplies ahead of the 2022 World Cup because of low ammonia production for fertiliser. To mitigate these issues businesses can stockpile essential supplies, diversify suppliers, and establish contingency plans to manage supply chain interruptions.

4. Economic Impact. While major sporting events can boost the local economy, there is also the risk that they cause price inflation and shift consumer spending patterns. Market analysis can allow businesses to adjust their pricing strategies and stock levels accordingly and consideration of the post-event slump in sales could be offset by planning follow-on events or by a change of business priority.

5. Public and Customer Relations. Increased demand for certain products/services and heightened media attention can affect a company’s public image and customer relations. Whilst this can be positive in increasing footfall and sales, it may result in the business being overwhelmed and unable to meet demand thus generating a negative reputation. As a result, effective communication strategies, public relations planning, and customer service enhancements should be established in advance to manage public perception and customer satisfaction.

 6. Operational Adjustments. In addition to considering alternative work schedules there may be a requirement to adjust other operations. For example, vehicular access may be limited to certain times. If the option exists, it may be worth considering temporary relocation to remove this issue. Businesses that rely on occasional temporary staff to manage surge periods may find that the pool of available personnel has been diminished by the requirement for stewards, games-makers or similar. Planning in advance to include temporary relocation strategies and adjusting operational hours can help maintain business continuity.

7. Employee Well-Being. Staff may experience increased stress and workload due to changes in commuting patterns, work schedules and intensity. This can affect employee well-being, especially if they are unable to recover after the event. Organisations should provide support resources, explore flexible working arrangements and wellness programs can help maintain employee morale and productivity. Another factor to consider is the timing of events that may be of particular interest to staff, such as when their national team is playing or where there an exciting final or medal opportunity. Allowing flexible or adjusted work hours could mitigate the effects of late nights or inconvenient time differences and will be appreciated, as well as being safer for people who commute the following morning.

8. Regulatory and Compliance Challenges. Businesses may face new or additional regulatory requirements related to safety, security, and environmental impact during the Games. Early engagement with organisers and local authorities will ensure these factors do not come as a surprise and that associated training requirements can be met in in advance.

9.  IT and Communication Systems. Increased demand on communication networks and potential cyber threats can disrupt IT systems, particularly for systems such as electronic payments. This can be mitigated by strengthening IT infrastructure where possible, ensuring robust cybersecurity measures, and having backup systems in place to help maintain communication and data integrity. Also consider the option of restoring cash payments or alternative online methods that do not rely on single systems.

10. Environmental Considerations. Large-scale event can strain local resources and infrastructure, potentially leading to environmental concerns such as waste management and pollution. As with previous areas early liaison with organisers and local authorities is likely to be required. Perhaps use these events to drive the change to sustainable practices if they are not already in place.

In summary, there a great deal to consider for every organisation that may be affected by large events such as the Olympics. Consider reviewing your Business Continuity Plans and conduct a dedicated business impact analysis specifically for the period of the event which will help identify critical functions and potential vulnerabilities. It is also important to keep all stakeholders informed about potential impacts and planned responses to ensure coordination and preparedness.

By predicting and preparing for these implications, businesses can better navigate the challenges posed by large public events, exploit opportunities, and ensure continuity of operations.

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