IFSC Releases Its 2019 Annual Report

Adam Ondra celebrates a top at IFSC World Cup Vail 2019. Photo by IFSC / Dan Gajda
IFSC 2019 annual report
Adam Ondra celebrates a top at IFSC World Cup Vail 2019. Photo by IFSC / Dan Gajda

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) released its 2019 annual report to the public last month. The report―which follows the most successful year on record for the IFSC financially―summarizes the federation’s activities across all departments. It includes details about IFSC governance and commissions, athlete and competition figures, digital marketing statistics, as well as specific budget lines. Below are a few figures that caught our eye here at Climbing Business Journal.

80% increase in annual turnover

The IFSC announced multiple big deals at the start of 2019. Dentsu and Synca, marketing and TV giants based in Japan, contributed to a threefold increase in broadcasting revenues from the previous year. An agreement with Earth Corporation―also based in Japan―was announced only a few weeks later. By the end of the year, IFSC sponsorship revenues had nearly doubled from 2018 to 2019. Altogether, annual turnover surpassed €3 million for the first time, about 80% more than the year prior.

As of December 31st a similar turnover was forecast for 2020; however, the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will impact the final numbers for 2020. “…We have recently found ourselves faced with unprecedented obstacles far beyond our control and therefore must adapt,” reads IFSC President Marco Scolaris’ introductory words.

Eldorado Climbing


7,700 spectators at World Cup Vail

The IFSC also published spectator estimates for 2019. Vail, the only IFSC event on North American soil last year, ranked 4th in attendance on the IFSC World Cup circuit. With an estimated 7,700 spectators in 2019, Vail trailed only World Cup staples Munich (9,000), Briançon (10,000) and Chamonix (18,000).

The bouldering competition in Vail represented one of the longest standing events in IFSC history. Last year was particularly noteworthy, since the event factored into the Tokyo 2020 qualification process and marked Vail’s last edition. This year the World Cup in Vail moved to Salt Lake City and would have included speed climbing as well. Following the COVID-19 outbreak though, the IFSC postponed the international bouldering season―the comp in Salt Lake City included.

44.5 million climbers worldwide

In 2018 the IFSC commissioned Vertical Life―based in Italy like the IFSC―to develop a new results system. The federation later enlisted Vertical Life in a project to estimate the number of climbers worldwide. The study included both indoor and outdoor climbers but excluded hikers and adventure park climbers. After weighing the average percentage of climbers per country with the total world population―and after excluding populations in extreme poverty―the IFSC estimates there are 44.5 million climbers worldwide.

The results system was among the developments highlighted by IFSC Secretary General Debra Gawrych in the annual report. “From working on the “Road to Tokyo 2020” and numerous other event and administrative activities, we have made tremendous strides in 2019,” reads Gawrych’s message.

Both the 2018 and 2019 annual reports of the IFSC are published on its website and can be downloaded here.