Mass participation sports fear virus bust

Overlooked for federal stimulus, Australia's industry body representing mass participation sports events fears many of its virus-hit businesses won't survive.

Half Australia's mass participation sports event businesses expect to go bust by the end of the year after being overlooked for COVID-19 relief funding in this week's federal budget.

The Australian Mass Participation Sporting Event Alliance had strongly lobbied for a $48 million stimulus package to help hundreds of ailing small businesses associated with the industry.

It is estimated about 8500 events were delivered last year for sports including marathons, triathlons and surf lifesaving.

But the sector has been brought to its knees in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic prompting widespread cancellations and postponements from March onwards.

That included notable marathons in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast being abandoned.

Fearing mass extinction, the AMPSEA turned to the federal government for support in May but wasn't allocated a cent.

In a survey of 300 of its member businesses last week, 50 per cent said they wouldn't survive 2020 without recovery assistance - up from 41 per cent in April.

AMPSEA chair Chris Heverin said the industry, which normally employs more than 11,000 people and pumps $1.1 billion into the economy each year, had been ignored in Tuesday's budget.

"To be honest, it's baffling why we were left out of the mix, particularly when we're seeing a near 100 per cent loss of revenue," he said in a statement on Saturday.

"While AMPSEA applauds the support announced for music and business events, mass participation sporting events have been overlooked.

AMPSEA had been seeking access to stimulus through a merit-based grants program for COVID-Safe events.

Mr Heverin said marathons, triathlons, cycling races, fun runs and ironman events didn't just strictly have health benefits but also create jobs and inject cash into regional communities.

"With federal assistance we can be a key player in the country's revival but we can't help but think it was an opportunity lost by the government on Tuesday night," Mr Heverin said.

Olympian and distance running champion Steve Moneghetti, an AMPSEA ambassador, reinforced the idea community sports events' value is multi-faceted.

"We want to emerge from this crisis having supported the people who work in the sector and rely on events to survive, while lending a hand to Australia's economic and social recovery and the health and wellbeing of its people," he said.