Sporting Challenges

March 5th, 2012 - The challenges of transporting goods in the high-pressure world of international sporting events

"Organizing logistics for the booming sports industry requires special skills Towards the end of December, the organizers of India’s new motorsport league needed to transport 18 racing cars from the U .K. to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit. Drivers including former Formula One champion Jean Alesi were waiting to test the cars for the launch of the new i1 Super Series.

“The timing was tight because we had less than ten days,” says Laurent Canot, fair and events department manager at SDV in Paris, who organized the transport of the Radical Sportscars’ SR3 roadsters weighing around 66 tonnes in total.

“We had to find planes with the right capacity and availability.”

The i1 Super Series will feature nine teams competing in races across locations including Bahrain, Qatar, India and Abu Dhabi. The winning team will take home §2 million in prize money, further proof of the high economic stakes of sporting events.

“Sports events have become big business,” says Canot. “It’s a rapidly-growing sector that is increasingly attracting investors from China, Russia and the Gulf States.” SDV ships goods to around five major events a year, Canot estimates, with other recent missions including the Tour of Oman and Tour of Qatar bicycle races.

The global sports market will reach §145.3 billion in revenue between now and 2015, according to a recent report by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, growing at an annual rate of 3.7 percent. North America will remain the largest market, the firm predicted, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa and then Asia.

Transporting materials to sporting events, meanwhile, represents a special kind of challenge as several locations may be involved and timeliness is clearly critical, says Canot. Customs declarations are complex, typically involving different kinds of materials – car tires, oil, petrol and spare parts in the case of a car race, for example.

Security must be managed, especially in the case of the highest-profile events such as the Olympic Games, Canot adds. Access to the Olympic sites is restricted to certain times, for example, and the transport company must first register details such as the number plates of the trucks and the names of the drivers with the organizers. Materials entering Olympic Villages must also be scanned and checked by security before entering.

Transporting goods for Olympic Games often requires problem-solving skills, Canot says. SDV, for example, worked with the Organizing Committee for the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010. It sent 15 tonnes of materials to the three Olympic sites in Canada including skis, clothing and medical supplies for the French team.

At one point, SDV needed to collect a special machine used for preparing skis from the Jura region in eastern France, package the unwieldy cargo and ship it swiftly to Vancouver. “We find solutions,” says Carnot. “Sports events is a sector that earns huge amounts of money but it’s not the same as working for a industrial group. The human side is very important.”

SDV also transported 30 tonnes of materials for the official French broadcaster of the Winter Olympics including cameras and studio furniture. It took ten days to deliver the goods from France to Canada by air. There is little room for delays or other problems in such operations, Canot warns. “Failure is not an option,” he says.

Key Figures
  • 20%

    More fuel-efficient for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350

  • 70%

    of Urbanisation is expected by 2050

  • 27

    mega-cities are expected by 2050, with at least 10 million people, compared to 1...

  • +18,4%

    of growth for E-commerce retail market in Europe in 2015

  • 82%

    of goods are moved by road

  • 1 billion

    Population in Africa

  • 60%

    of Africa’s population will be urbanized by 2050

  • 7,5%

    of growth for Indian GDP in 2014

  • 4,9%

    of growth for African GDP in 2016

  • 6,1%

    of growth for East Asian GDP in 2015, the world’s fastest-growing region

  • 19 224 teus

    transported by the MSC Oscar, the largest container ship in the world

  • 396 m

    is the size of the MSC Oscar ship

  • 120 h

    is the Non-Stop Flight Record done by Solar Impulse

  • 4,5%

    of growth in 2015 for Global Airfreight demand