Downhill ski, medals triumph and failure, world records and curling - a risky business?

Published in Post Online - 7 February 2014

Ahead of Sochi, Sportscover Europe business development director Paul Thomas looks at the insurance risks behind the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.

By Paul Thomas, Business Development Director at Sportscover Europe

7 February, 2014

With the arrival of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, this week sees the start of one of the world’s great sporting spectacles. With 98 events across 15 disciplines, it looks set to deliver a feast of entertainment and endeavor. Sport takes central importance across the world, but it has particular resonance here in the UK. It was the UK, after all, that codified a good proportion of the world sporting events that take place every day -including the curling event at this year's Winter Olympics

As we all know, curling is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric rings. It is related to bowls, boule and shuffleboard, and will no doubt play an integral role in the nation's sporting imagination next week.

But as with the London Olympics of two years ago, which attracted the scrutiny of the world's media and a plethora of security analysts, areas such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Georgia - all nations close to Sochi's location on the north coast of the Black Sea - are likely to be a part of the narrative

Two recent bombings in Volgograd and reports of suicide bombers dubbed "black widows" in operation prompted the US government to say it viewed the Games as an "attractive target for terrorists."

It is hard for us sports lovers in the UK to get our heads around this kind of talk. Sport is ingrained in our collective psyche as being a topic of fierce pub debate, tribal loyalty, or even national handwringing -like when the ball clearly crosses the line but the linesman somehow misses it, as happened in the last FIFA World Cup when Frank Lampard had his shot ruled out against Germany - but security nonetheless looks set to play a major role in the Winter Olympics.

Yet Sochi is merely part of a greater festival of sport that we can look forward to this year. Lest we forget, another global sporting extravaganza, the FIFA World Cup, takes place this Summer in Brazil, the spiritual home of football.

Closer to home we can look forward the Tour de France visiting the UK once again and commencing for the first time in Yorkshire. Of course, these events are not without risk, and it is here that the Lloyd's insurance market comes into its own as a leading provider of specialist sports cover for participants.

Indeed, when it comes to the blue ribbon events of the year, the top athletes will certainly be well-advised and have appropriate bespoke protection. But worryingly, at the amateur level there is still a lack of education of the benefits of suitable insurance cover.

With diverse participant bases, it can be challenging for sporting bodies to satisfy the varied insurance requirements of their membership. Having access to additional products is therefore crucial to ensure peace of mind, whatever your sport or performance level.

Ultimately, whether you operate as an amateur light head third eleven prop in the Rugby union or an elite Olympic downhill skier, advice about personal welfare and insurance protection will always be needed -and the London insurance market is particularly well serviced to provide it.