- Executive Summary
- Letter from Juan Antonio Samaranch
- Foreword by Sir Martin Sorrell
- Chapter 1: Ring Side Seat
- Chapter 2: Scorpion Wars
- Chapter 3: Shock and Awe
- Chapter 4: The Shoemaker's Vision
- Chapter 5: Beyond a Brand
- Chapter 6: Beating the Ambushers
- Chapter 7: Operation Perfect Hosts
- Chapter 8: Making IT Happen
- Chapter 9: To the Brink and Back
- Chapter 10: Coming Home
- Chapter 11: The Future of the Rings
- Foreign Language Editions
New York Times - Big Sporting Events Find New Frontiers
When the Summer Olympics open in July with the lighting of the caldron in London, it will mark the return of one of the world’s greatest sporting events to one of global sport’s traditional strongholds.
This will be the third time that London has staged the Games — it was also the host in 1908 and 1948 — and the British capital will hold the 2017 world athletics championships in the city’s new Olympic stadium. But London is, in fact, running counter to an unmistakable trend.
The world’s biggest sporting events are gravitating, at least for now, away from traditional sites like London and in the direction of emerging powers and economies.
“The biggest challenge I think going forward is for the maturer cities to be able to really define their narrative in the face of the quite compelling narratives that are being created elsewhere,” Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London Organizing Committee, said in an interview this week. “Because the narrative at the moment that is clearly holding sway is: This is an area we’ve never been to before, this is our chance to really drive legacy, drive engagement within the movement and help young people into sport.”
A study by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies last year explored the shifting balance of bidding power and focused on five major events: Summer and Winter Olympics, the World Cup in men’s soccer and both the swimming and the athletics world championships.
From 1990 to 1999, these major events were staged 16 times. Fourteen of them were held in “Western countries,” taken by the Danish study to mean Western Europe, Australia and North America. Two were in Japan.
From 2000 to 2009, the figures were similar, with 12 of the 16 big events in Western countries, two in Japan and one — the 2008 Summer Olympics — in China. Japan and South Korea also co-hosted the 2002 soccer World Cup.
But this decade will be radically different, with the West becoming a minority player in the major event business.
“More and more countries and cities as they come of age are saying, ‘You know what? That big-event agenda? We’re now ready for it,”’ said Michael Payne, the former marketing director for the International Olympic Committee. “There’s an appreciation of what it can do for the economy, the country. Whereas in the past, it was perhaps the exclusive remit of the Western world, you’ve got more and more countries with the resources and the understanding that gives them the ability to go for it.
“Now that’s not to say you’re never coming back to Europe or North America or Tokyo,” he added. “But I think it does mean the sports bodies, given a choice and all things being equal, will be interested in exploring a new territory.”
Not every major championship has yet been awarded, but it looks, above all, like the decade of countries like Brazil, Russia, China and South Korea. Brazil, in an unprecedented back-to-back double, will stage the 2014 World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which will be the first Olympics staged in South America. Russia will have the 2013 world athletics championships in Moscow, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the 2015 world swimming championships in Kazan, and the 2018 soccer World Cup.
China had the world swimming championships in Shanghai last year and will have the 2015 world athletics championships in Beijing. South Korea had the world athletics championships in Daegu last year and in 2018 will host its first Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang.
“I think there are two important points,” said Ricardo Leyser, secretary for high-performance sports in the Brazilian Ministry of Sports. “The first point is that now these emerging countries are not afraid to bid, so for the first time some countries are bidding and bidding in a serious way. The second point is that we have a connection between the development of the economy and sport.
“In Brazil, for example, we probably now have 10 times more money and budget for sports than 20 years ago,” he added. “It’s a big change. And you see sports in Brazil since probably 2002, every aspect has had a big jump. The activities are increasing in an amazing way, and I think that it’s a consequence of the economic development.”
The focus for now from the fast-developing world is on the biggest prizes. The Danish survey found that the Western world was still staging a solid majority of second-tier global sports events in this era. But this could be counterbalanced by the push toward the Middle East and Asia on professional circuits like Formula One and men’s and women’s tennis and golf. Just this week, the men’s tennis tour agreed to a sale that will eventually eliminate a tournament in San Jose, California, and add one in Rio de Janeiro.
The biggest prizes, like the Olympics and World Cups, can define or redefine a country’s image in a hurry. But this is probably not the case for a world city whose profile already well established.
“Look at the three current games of Beijing, London and Rio,” said Payne, an independent consultant who advised Rio on its bid. “The Olympic Games will not change Britain. The Olympic games will be a very useful catalyst for developing East London, but brand Britain and the nation is not going to be reformed or transformed by the Olympic Games.
“The impact of the Olympic Games on China was major, albeit that I believe only history will record in a decade’s time the true impact,” he added. “And the impact upon Brazil will be major in terms of Brazil stepping up on the world stage and the world community discovering Brazil. They don’t really know a lot about it, so in that sense Brazil has far more to gain than if you were just going back to a country or city that is fairly well known.”
There is plenty of potential dark side, too. the modern Olympic movement is brimming with cautionary tales, from Montreal’s mammoth stadium debt in 1976 to the many shuttered venues in Athens after the 2004 Games.
All this despite a bidding process that has become much more rigorous and transparent.
“In the Olympics, the initial phase and analysis has become far more of a detailed technical review,” Payne said. “One example: You can no longer say, ‘Right, I’m going to build all this stuff.’ The response is: ‘O.K., fine, show me you already own the land. Ah, you don’t own the land on that, so how do you propose to get it and what’s going to happen if someone is going to put a protest in?”’
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, the I.O.C. was very trusting, and there was Dick Pound’s famous remark about the bid books being some of the world’s greatest fiction,” he added, referring to Richard Pound, a former I.O.C. vice president.
Outside technical experts, architects and consultants have become de rigueur for candidate cities as they build their formal arguments.
Stratos Safioleas was a strategic consultant for the Olympic winners London and Pyeongchang and for the Chicago bid, which lost to Rio. He is now working with Baku, Azerbajian, in the race for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The other bidders are Doha, Qatar; Tokyo; Madrid; and Istanbul. But Rome, a traditional stronghold and former host, fell away because of Italy’s financial difficulties.
“As you try to make an assessment of the trends in the future, you probably saw I.O.C. President Jacques Rogge make a reference to the importance of the sustainability of the Games,” Safioleas said. “I think we will see this becoming more and more important in the next biddings as the Olympic plans will try to fit, let’s say, the future needs of a city and of a region and not the other way around.”
Sustainability was certainly a part of London’s winning pitch. So was urban renewal, with the push to redevelop hardscrabble East London. So was the desire to renew global youth’s love affair with the Olympic movement. Coe still sees a compelling argument there for future bidders from the developed world.
“I think it’s going to be important for the mature cities to be able to carve out a narrative that says, ‘Of course we need to have global sporting events that by implication go around the globe, but don’t forget we have our own challenges here.’ We may be mature. We may be sophisticated markets, but we’ve got as many challenges getting young people from relatively economically prosperous backgrounds into sport as the emerging world — the advancing and developing world — does in terms of trying to excite their attention.”
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