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COVID-19: the impact of postponing or cancelling sports events in India

Cricket India
Friday, 17 April 2020 By Shan Kohli , Lokesh Kaza , Abhinav Shrivastava

With the rapid spread and dangers to public health posed by COVID-19, governments across the world have implemented social distancing measures and travel constraints across the earlier months of this year, with these measures intensifying into lock-down orders and prohibitions of large gatherings.

These circumstances led to mass cancellations or postponement of national and international sporting events across the world – events such as the English Premier League, Indian Premier League (IPL), Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2020 Formula One season, the 2020 National Basketball Association league season, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2020 and Wimbledon 2020 have either been suspended, postponed or cancelled.

All suspensions, postponements and cancellations are disruptions that have legal and commercial consequences for all stakeholders of the event, from the organiser, teams, sponsors, broadcasters and commercial rights holders to the audience. This article examines the contractual and legal implications of cancellation and postponement of sporting events across these stakeholders.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • Contractual remedy – the Force Majeure clause
  • Legal remedy – principle of frustration of contract
  • Impact and approaches to consider
    • Event organisers
    • Broadcasters
    • Event sponsors, on-ground sponsors and on-ground vendors
    • Ticket holders
    • Athletes
  • Conclusion and next steps

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Written by

Shan Kohli

Shan Kohli

Senior Associate, LawNK

Shan Kohli is a Senior Associate at LawNK and is a graduate of The National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. Her research interests include sports governance, the interplay between sports and intellectual property law and gender & sport

Lokesh Kaza

Lokesh Kaza

Associate, LawNK

Lokesh Kaza is an Associate at LawNK, a boutique law practice specialising in sports, media, technology and intellectual property laws. He is also a researcher at the Sports Law and Policy Centre, Bengaluru and his research interests include sports integrity and social development through sport. Lokesh graduated with a B.A., LL.B (Hons) from the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in 2018. 

Abhinav Shrivastava

Abhinav Shrivastava

Counsel, LawNK

Abhinav Shrivastava is Counsel at LawNK, a Bangalore based boutique law practice specialising in sports, media, technology and intellectual property laws. He heads the Privacy and Data Protection practice at LawNK, and is a graduate of Kings’ College London and NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

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