Across the Finish Line: Decoding the Role of Logistics in Modern Sports

An unimaginable number of sports tournaments are held across the world throughout the year. A lot of preparation goes into putting together a successful event. Logistics operations is an inseparable part of every sports extravaganza and also one of the most challenging and complex things to organize. Some of the biggest sporting events like the Olympics or the Cricket and Football World Cup require elaborate logistics planning to meet the transportation needs of players and their support staff.

Sports logistics however isn’t just limited to the transportation of players from one place to another. It involves large scale sports venue management that includes transportation of sports equipment and other utilities for team members. Sports logistics can be categorized into equipment logistics management, athlete’s logistics management and venue logistics management. Let’s explore and gain a deeper understanding of the significance of logistics in sports.

Key functions of logistics in sports

Managing International venues: Right from knowledge of international cargo transportation and meticulous planning that is in line with the updated rules and regulations of the host country to have an insight into local transportation bottlenecks and movement timelines, a logistic service partner catering to international sporting events needs to have in-depth knowledge and preparedness well in advance. Especially for large scale events like Olympics that involve players from across the globe, local-host country guidelines can be confusing. Adding to that, differences in language and culture can seem overwhelming. It thus falls upon the logistics service providers to ensure all the transportation activities involving players, equipment and staff are in line with the rules and guidelines set by the event organizers and in tune with international guidelines of the host country.

Adherence to the laws of the host country: A thorough understanding of the laws and regulations of the host county is pivotal for the success of a sports event. It’s the responsibility of the logistics service provider to plan the transportation without violating any rules and regulations laid by the host country. The right logistics partner will secure all the necessary permissions, abide by the laws and ensure adherence every step of the way so there are no hiccups throughout the entire journey.

Safe transportation of delicate, high-end equipment: Unlike earlier, sports events today deploy high-end technologies to assist umpires and referees and enable better decision making. Equipment like cameras and computer systems that trace the ball’s trajectory, transfer information seamlessly and ensure the best viewing experience for fans and spectators enjoying the game through television and digital platforms all play a significant role in making an event successful. Safe transportation of such delicate equipment from the manufacturing unit till the venue is of paramount importance. Logistics service providers ensure that appropriate arrangements have been made to transport and handle such equipment in addition to the sports equipment of players.

Access to cultural experiences/ leisure and tourism: Managing the movement of players during downtime or during leisure or planning local sight-seeing activities also falls under the purview of logistics service providers. From access to leisure facilities and enjoying cultural experiences to insights into the best routes in and out of the city for faster movement among the crowds, all is to be planned through effective logistics. Logistics planning ensures transportation networks are managed optimally to fulfil the tourism and recreational demands of players.

Assistance during crises and medical emergencies: The possibility of a crisis situation cannot be ruled out during sports events and effective measures need to be in place to deal with such events. In partnership with assigned security details and local authorities, logistic service providers need to be aligned and prepared with a crisis movement plan in terms of escape routes, access to vehicles and new alternate venues etc. Logistics providers coordinate with the security personnel to stay prepared to deal with any unexpected situations and ensure maximum safety of players and staff. Medical emergencies may also arise any time due to injuries on ground or other reasons. During such emergencies, it’s necessary to quickly transport players from the ground to the hospital. Even in case of medical emergencies off ground, it’s the logistics services that facilitate movement from one place to another.

An overview of logistics operations behind the Indian Premier League (IPL)
IPL is easily the biggest sporting event in India and this year it is even bigger than the ICC World Cup in terms of logistics activities. IPL 2022 is the first full-fledged sports event happening in India post-COVID and it is being played across four venues – Wankhede stadium and Brabourne stadium in Mumbai, DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai and Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
With approximately 12000+ hotel bookings, 20,000+ air tickets and the movement of 1000+ players with their kits from one place to another, there is a humongous amount of logistics work involved. Right from the raw materials to the supply of kits to the players, a strong supply chain network is the backbone behind the success of events like IPL.
The tournament has multiple teams with an army of technical staff accompanying each of the teams from across the globe and a host of match officials. The distribution of equipment and jerseys is another thing to be taken care of. This year’s IPL has 10 teams as opposed to the usual 8 teams which put
s more pressure on the logistics division.

Making it count

Technology plays a crucial role in speeding up operations and keeping costs low. Just like in other sectors, Logistics companies have adopted AI and IoT driven systems to enable proactive scheduling and route optimization and offer better visibility for event organizers and players in all phases of the sports logistics operations. Forecasting transportation times, eliminating manual work and coordinating all levels of logistics interconnected to each other is now enabled through efficient tech adoption.

Winding up

The key to a successful sports event lies in optimizing its logistics operations. A small error or delay could not just lead to financial losses but spoil the overall experience for everyone including spectators. Like any other event, sports events require top-notch logistics services driven by strategic and data-led planning to ensure a robust network and streamline processes every step along the way, and that is why, organizers and players must only work with those who have been there, done that, successfully, every time!

This article is authored by Mr Hector Patel, Executive Director, and Board Member, Jeena and Co.

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