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11 April 2020 | in NUSF News, COVID-19 updates

A tournament behind closed doors; CTUSF’s strategy to deal with COVID-19 crisis

Even as the sports world has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, including the postponement of the Olympic Games, the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation (CTUSF) has found a way to continue their major tournaments, all the while keeping athletes and spectators safe. How are they doing this?

ctusf pic 6

“Right from February onwards, when the number of infections were doubling every few days in China, we started to discuss ways to prevent our sports events from becoming coronavirus hotspots,” said Ching-Yu Tseng, Secretary General of CTUSF. “We informed all the spectators to put on masks before entering the venue, and we bought equipment like thermometers and thermal imagers to check everyone’s body temperature on arrival.”


ctusf pic 5Those plans also needed adjustment as global coronavirus cases continued to rise through March. The CTUSF then needed to adjust their tournaments plan almost on a daily basis.


“Basically, we are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) instructions. When the CDC decreased the numbers of people allowed in indoor gatherings from 300 to 100, we had to come up with supplementary measures,” Tseng said.


Finally, CTUSF decided to host closed door tournaments and make use of the internet to bring the events to their audiences.


“We decided to host all the final tournaments behind closed doors,” added Tseng. “Take our basketball tournament for example, where we allowed very few spectators to enter the venue.”


At this tournament, CTUSF asked each university to handpick 50 entrants, including all athletes, staff members and spectators. All these 50 people were expected to act together in a group, even while entering or leaving the venue.


ctusf pic 1 Apart from controlling the numbers, each person who entered the venue had to record their arrival with a signature, sanitize their hands and check their body temperature.


For spectators’ safety, CTUSF also implemented a seat separation policy. “We utilised a checkerboard pattern, to leave every second seat unoccupied and thus maintain at least 1.5 metre distance between spectators,” Tseng explained.


Holding major tournaments behind closed doors was an unprecedented step for CTUSF and communicating with fans and sponsors presented a challenge.


“We made videos to remind audiences to stay at home and watch the games on TV or YouTube,” said Ariel Huang, chief of Marketing at CTUSF. “Also, we took all our promotional activities online. For example, we created contests that encouraged sports fans to take a selfie while watching our tournaments on TV or online.”


The online promotional activities paid off as their SSUtv YouTube did exceptionally well. Ariel Huang pointed out “We saw significant growth with regard to viewers and viewing time. Compared to last year, we had over 50% more viewers, which is really impressive. This also helps us attract more sponsors.”


As a result of these measures and adaptations, CTUSF managed to complete this year’s tournaments and draw even more online audiences to university sports.


Secretary General Tseng said, “We did not expect that our SSUtv would become one of the most popular sports channels on YouTube in this region. Perhaps because of the coronavirus, we once again realised the potential and importance of our online channels. Especially in such times of uncertainty, it can help us communicate and connect with the young generation and the world.”


All photos: courtesy CTUSF