ISL Statement: Pride in Successful Season, But Admission of Financial Challenges

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The International Swimming League (ISL) wanted to give the sport a season and something to look forward do in a pandemic-laden year of 2020. As a result, the ISL season went into a bubble in Budapest in a new format and saw fast swimming and healthy athletes. The ISL released a statement about the pride it took in having no positive cases from the bubble all season and maintaining the sport in a controlled environment. However, it also referenced the financial difficulties that all leagues have experienced during 2020.

Grand Final Day 1

Here is the statement in full:

After a stunning Season 2020, the International Swimming League comes to a climax this weekend with the Grand Final in Budapest – proving the league was correct in its belief that the show must go on, safely.

Despite the significant financial challenges that all sports rights-holders have faced this year and against all the odds, the ISL has managed to deliver a fantastic product in its second season. We have witnessed an incredibly successful 6 weeks in the Budapest bubble, while supporting athletes, highlighting talent and showcasing superhuman capabilities.

All this has been done safely with no positive COVID tests for swimmers. We invested considerably to do all we can to protect the health of everyone in the bubble. This has been a significant undertaking.

Our belief is that we are working for the greater good of swimming. This year could have been a career-ending disruption for many swimmers who need to make a living. The swimming industry has been put under great strain with all pools closed and no competitive meets. There was a huge gap with no competitive swimming at the world level and we felt it our duty to step in to help save the sport.

We needed to maintain momentum after the first season, and at no point did we want to postpone our operations until 2021. We believe we have an obligation to our athletes both from a financial and mental point of view. This has meant a huge additional financial commitment to the project in 2020. We launched the ISL Solidarity Program in April to financially support our athletes to help prepare them for the current ISL Season 2020, in the lead up to major events in 2021, and a full ISL season in 2021-2022.

The work has not been easy. For the first two seasons, we have been mostly focused on showcasing athlete talent and our product to the widest audience possible. We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising. The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.

Our head-down approach to deliver Season 2020 may have caused friction with some suppliers but we will honour all obligations, which are less than 5 percent of last year’s overall expenditure. Going forward, and before planning starts for Season 3, we will need to close all outstanding issues from the past and we will adjust our internal organisation and processes to improve our operational discipline to continue being a reliable partner to all our suppliers.

We are optimistic for the future and are hoping for the best that the sports industry quickly bounces back, and we find certain brands with which to partner to support our cause.

On this basis, we look forward to a fantastic end to the current season this weekend with the ISL Grand Final featuring the world’s best swimmers.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Elsa

    I was informed by people (coaches and swimmers) in the bubble that there actually were positive COVID cases in the bubble, more than one. But excuses like “stomach bug” was used in the media to cover it up.

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