Sports Event Logistics: Performing Against the Clock

September 20th, 2018

Expanding, varied and heady stakes in popular sporting events make elite performance by logistics and transport partners essential for participants’ success.

The spreading popularity of major sporting events has vastly magnified the financial, organizational and even political stakes in what once were considered merely athletic contests. Now, organizers, suppliers and participants from around the globe converge on competition sites at precise times, and athletes, coaching staffs, security officials, media professionals and sponsors must be present and equipped to perform for enthusiastic global audiences. To make that happen, transport and logistics experts must not only have in-house specialists capable of managing myriad challenges against a ticking clock, but also command sufficiently deep networks of global partners to guarantee reactive, quality service on short notice.

Though they differ in scale, Olympic Games, World Cups, World Championships and international and national competitions carry similar financial, business and reputational consequences for organizers, sponsors, media and host nations as they do for competing athletes. Though venues and dates are known years in advance, many final details – from which contestants qualify, where teams reside, exact security measures used and where and how the press decides to cover various events – are determined late in the game.

That means all actors involved must act swiftly and adapt as opening dates for contests approach -- and do so with the confidence their logistics and transport providers will deliver what they require rapidly and on time. Success means glory for athletes, praise for organizers, positive impact for sponsors, big audiences and advertising boosts for media and excitement for sports fans worldwide. Failure, or even notable glitches, generates disappointment that’s difficult for anyone involved to quickly shed.

All participants and partners must therefore be in top form -- particularly transport and logistics providers. Not all freight forwarders are up to those elite performance levels, however, especially under the pressure of global sports fans looking on.

Those that are are well trained and accustomed to rising to challenges. They orchestrate networks of partners capable of handling the diverse materials transported on short notice -- then just as quickly return or convey them to wherever they’re needed next. They’re adept at providing tailor-made solutions for all disparate clients and cargo converging on often far flung competition venues; experienced in swiftly navigating security, customs and other administrative processes; and comfortable working under pressure as details shift and time gets tight.

“You need to be able to speak the same language as your clients, and rely on similar knowledge and capabilities you’ve developed in providing effective service to them in sporting events,” explains Laurent Canot, Head of the Fair & Events unit for global freight forwarding expert Bolloré Logistics. “We have a team of 13 people specialized in the distinct requirements and demands of events logistics, particularly sports competitions with tight time restrictions.”

That work doesn’t get easier when massively popular mega-events like Olympic Games and World Cups are over. Pressure remains high during normal periods as numerous competitions covering all sports are staged around the world – and at the same time countless international professional conferences, trade fairs and company exhibits are also held. Each type of event, Mr. Canot notes, has its own particular exigencies as well as common demands that his team must juggle. But he says sports activity is uniquely challenging.

“Time and timing are of the essence in all types, but with sports event logistics things start moving much later, and the clock you’re running against expires as your clients must start performing,” he says of the formidable deadlines. “With 95% or more of our sports activity bound for destinations spanning the globe, transport time further reduces our margin for maneuver. Everything goes by air -- and as fast as we can set it up.”

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

  • 70%

    of Urbanisation is expected by 2050

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

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

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    of goods are moved by road

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    Population in Africa

  • 60%

    of Africa’s population will be urbanized by 2050

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    of growth for Indian GDP in 2014

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    of growth for African GDP in 2016

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

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

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    is the size of the MSC Oscar ship

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    is the Non-Stop Flight Record done by Solar Impulse

  • 4,5%

    of growth in 2015 for Global Airfreight demand