As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the world, many sporting fixtures are having to be rescheduled, postponed or cancelled entirely. Some of the more obvious examples of this have been a Seria A fixture between Inter Milan and Sampdoria, upcoming fixtures in Genoa, Bergamo, Ferrara and Turin (all in the North of the country), as well as Six Nations games between Ireland and Italy, and Italy and England. There has been less obvious sporting cancellations too, such as the Top Rank Boxing event due to take place in China last month.
Turning to the Six Nations, Italy were due in Dublin this weekend. The Italian men were set to take on the Ireland on Saturday, while the women were due to face the Ireland women's team on Sunday afternoon. Both games have been cancelled and speculation about the economic consequences has commenced.
Such fixture postponements are rare (although Ireland Six Nations rugby games were postponed in 2001 due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK) and provide a fitting setting to examine a branch of economics that first students will meet in introductory lectures; substitution and income effects. The postponement of both games will have an effect but it is probably nothing like what people expect.
For instance, the match on Saturday at the Avivia Stadium was due to have around 51,700. The vast bulk of these people would have been from Ireland. Probably 95% or more. The postponement of the game means that these people will simply substitute their spending to something else - most likely in Ireland.
Some sectors of the economy do feel the postponement worse than others. Pubs around the Aviva, as well as transport services, restaurants and hotels all take a hit, but someone else probably gains. The money doesn't disappear. After all, one of the functions of money is that it is a "store of value". If the game goes ahead at some point - which is more than likely - those that lost out this time should gain later down the road. The net effect might be neutral. All that will have is that the time of consumption is pushed back. Ireland Inc. loses little or nothing either way from the 95% of domestic fans.
The 5% that were due to support Italy might be lost. This is an income effect. If they fail to travel, the money that would have been spent in Dublin does 'disappear'. However, if flights have been paid for (with Ryanair) and hotels booking with cancellation fees, the losses might be much smaller than expected. Many could still probably still travel to Dublin. The losers here are again the services in and around the stadium, but winners will exist elsewhere. Maybe other tourist attractions.