March 25 - There needs to be focus more on the long-term development of host cities to provide a successful future for the Olympic Movement, according to a panel of bid consultant experts.
Speaking in a webinar entitled Sports New Frontier - Ultimate Sports Cities of the Future, an expert panel of Hazem Galal, a partner of world-leading professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers; Terrence Burns, managing director of Teneo Strategy; and Lars Haue-Pedersen, chief executive of TSE Consulting, discussed how cities can get the most out of hosting major events and how rights holders can position themselves to attract more bid cities for their events.
The debate looked to solve the increasingly apparent problem of a lack of bid cities for major sporting events, in particular the Olympics, which is seeing more and more cases of potential bidders put off due to political and economical reasons.
Burns, who worked on the successful Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic bids, claimed more needed to be done by the IOC to help educate future hosts as they look to bid for an Olympic Games.
He suggested a future host development committee could be set up to work with future hosts in the five years before a bid to give them the necessary tools to prepare for an Olympics, rather than just burdening them with the responsibility of organising a major international sporting event.
"There is a problem with the product and a problem with the cost of the product," said Burns on the webinar hosted by SportAccord International Convention and SportBusiness.
"Times have changed.
"Properties like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should setup something like a future host development committee where they need to work with the cities rather than just leaving it to chance."
All three experts agreed cost is the main factor when it comes to bidding for a sports event, no matter the size.
Looking at the commercial success of other major sporting brands such as formula one and tennis' Grand Slams, he talked of the benefit of knowing where an event will take place for the next five or ten years.
In cities that have a recurring event year on year, like a Grand Slam or formula one, they already have the infrastructure in place to produce a successful event without the spiralling costs associated with multi-sport events.
"There should be a focus on a circuit base of cities which probably, from a business point of view, will be more sustainable," said Pedersen.
Little work has to be done each successive year to make these events a success with the sustainability factor crucial in providing a political and economical success each year, it was claimed.
This strategy, as explained by Galal, makes bidding for an event more appealing to even small and medium sized cities who know that the initial investment needed to develop the infrastructure for an event will provide a sustainable and beneficial future for that city, and in particular that sport in the city.
"There are benefits of making sure there is a calendar of recurring events like in the formula one," said Galal.
"For small and medium sized cities it is a much safer approach if investing in infrastructure."
The Qatar-based Galal claimed, though, that even a small city has every right to dream and be ambitious about hosting a major event provided they have the resources necessary to host a successful event and a vision for a long-term strategy for their city.
These cost factors not only effect the initial process of vying for a feasible event to host, but can also determine the public's desire to see their city organise a sporting event.
Public opinion is a major factor in a bids success, as can be seen in the Munich 2022 referendum where local citizens voted not to bid for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and keeping the public on side can make or break a Games.
Pedersen claimed "when a costs figure gets out, it stays out," with the media and public alike latching onto it and using it in any future argument.
These figures usually do not factor in any revenue gained from hosting an event, such as sponsors or broadcasting rights, which, although the figure may highlight the costs, will not be a true portrayal of the final net figure for the organisation of the event.
The three experts all agreed local bid committees need to be trained and educated in major event operations with emphasis placed on a long-term partnership between the rights holders and the city, as opposed to just week-long or month long partnership when the event is taking place.
"What cities want to see from rights holders is a partnership," said Pedersen.
"The city is there for the long run."
Burns added: "It's not just about the five days or the 17 days for the city, its also about the long-term benefits."
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