Go to top of page

The Australian Sporting Environment

The past year has been an unprecedented challenge for Australian sport.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down sport at all levels, in Australia and abroad. As well as forcing the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Australia’s high-performance athletes have had to abandon competitions and reset training goals. Domestic competitions and community sport have been at a virtual stand-still, with some sports cancelling entire seasons for the year.

The affect this will have on the Australian sport and physical activity sector — which contributes around $83 billion of economic, health and education value for the Australian economy every year* - will be difficult to gauge for some time. One thing is clear, sport will be a vital part of Australia’s economic and health recovery.

Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck says the Government believes sporting clubs and organisations across Australia will play an enormous part in getting the nation back on track as we recover from the impact of COVID-19.

In spite of these challenges, the Australian sporting community has shown genuine resolve and determination to keep moving. Sports and clubs are working hard to engage with their members and get back to sport as soon as possible.

The ASC is determined to help all Australians become more active through sport, whether it’s getting involved in a local sporting club or aspiring to represent Australia.

Even before the pandemic, the characteristics, habits and attitudes of Australian society have been evolving and so is the way in which Australians interact with sport. Data indicates only 35.9 per cent of Australians aged 15 and above are meeting physical activity guidelines for their age group.

Research into the sports market tells us Australians are increasingly time poor, have limited budgets and are consumed by new digital ways of interacting and socialising. With these changes, new preferences are emerging; Australians want greater flexibility, more tailored products and activities that fit their busy lifestyles.

AusPlay data shows that in the past year about 4.6 million adults (15 and over) participated in club sport at least once (22 per cent of the population) while about 2.3 million children under the age of 15 (47.4 per cent) participate in club sport. The rate of participation in club sport peaks in the 9–11 age-group at around 70 per cent.

Just as Australian lifestyles are changing, so too is the sport industry. There is greater variety in the industry, and many levels of government and non-government support. The ASC aims to increase consistency and reduce inefficiencies across the sector, to transform the industry to better support sport in the community.

On the international stage, competition is continually intensifying and improving. While the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed to 2021, we are optimising all our resources to maximise outcomes for next year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant challenges to the sport sector and international sport more broadly. The AIS remains confident that a united high-performance system has the expertise and capacity to emerge from this crisis, continue to re-build and deliver international sporting success.

* Boston Consulting Group (2017) Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport 2017.