It has been a strange time. Not just for the MotoMatters.com website, or for motorcycle racing, but for the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic put everything on hold, in many ways. Most of them bad.
In March, the world ground to a halt in an attempt to deal with the pandemic. Three months later, things are slowly stirring into motion again. The pandemic has been largely contained in Europe, and the authorities have deemed it safe for sports, including MotoGP, to start up again. On July 19th, MotoGP returns at Jerez, followed two weeks later by WorldSBK.
The pandemic leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. As of June 21st, over 455,000 have died, according to statistics assiduously collected by UK newspaper the Financial Times. The efforts to prevent that number being an order of magnitude or more greater have had a huge economic impact, with businesses closing and many millions out of work around the world.
Having had to keep an eye on how the pandemic developed from a professional point of view, to understand when and whether racing might be possible again, I am acutely aware of the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, both in human terms and economically. I saw the impact it had on the people around me: journalists and broadcasters left with no work, photographers with nothing to sell pictures of. MotoGP as an industry is composed largely of freelancers, and it has been freelancers who have borne the brunt of this crisis.
So it has been heartwarming to have had the support of MotoMatters subscribers, Patreon backers, and people making a donation to help keep the site running. Despite the lack of racing to report on, and the weirdness of the situation, you have sent money you may have had to think twice about spending to us, to help keep the site running. We have weathered the storm so far, and that has been entirely due to your generosity. I am humbled, and I am grateful.
Your generosity has also helped keep afloat contributors and writers to the site. During the pandemic, we have published more material than usual from people such as Steve English, Tammy Gorali, Niki Kovács, Peter Bom, and Gordon Ritchie. The money saved by not traveling to races has gone towards paying for the articles, blogs, and features they have contributed to the site. I have always tried to prioritize quality over quantity, and it costs money to keep quality writers in a position to keep producing articles.
With that in mind, I would like to point out that much of what makes MotoGP coverage so special stands to be lost in the pandemic. Photographers, even the most talented, have seen their income dry up, and a worryingly large number have had to take other jobs just to feed their families. Magazines and websites have seen advertising incomes fall, journalists have seen income from writing press releases dry up.
Many of the freelancers who pack the media center at motorcycle races have struggled badly. And even when racing returns, photographers and journalists will be kept out of paddock, forcing many to find alternative employment and give up chasing their dreams. It will be a much sparser, emptier, and poorer media landscape that covers the 2021 MotoGP and WorldSBK seasons.
I started 2020 with a sense of optimism at rising subscriber numbers, and with plans to continue to expand and improve our coverage of the sport. When the pandemic hit and put racing on hold, I feared that we might not survive. Your generosity has allowed us to do just that.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your faith in MotoMatters.com is deeply touching, and your willingness to support us financially in a time of economic hardship means more than I can say. You quite literally put your money where your mouths are. That is a powerful expression of support, and I cannot adequately express just how grateful I am.
Thanks to everyone who has supported MotoMatters.com. If you haven't done so already, you can help by either taking out a subscription, supporting us on Patreon, by making a donation, or contributing via our GoFundMe page. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.