Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games executive director, told Global Sports Week (GSW) Paris this evening that it was important to maintain a balance between new and traditional sports as the Olympics and Paralympics develop.
Dubi was contributing to the keynote session of the first main day of the virtual GSW offerings from its French base of the Eiffel Tower - "The Future of Sports Events: Visions of Olympic and Paralympic Leaders".
Reflecting upon the recent challenges of the pandemic upon sporting activity, Dubi commented: "Sport will continue to matter, and matter even more in the future."
Asked how the Olympics can compete for the attention of the younger generation against rivals such as esports or start-up sports where innovation is part of the core strategy, Dubi responded: "It’s about ensuring a balance so that we make sure we cover our bases while making sure we have a degree of flexibility and innovation."
He added that the IOC was constantly trying to "turn to the younger generation to ask for their help," citing schemes such as the Young Leaders in Sport.
"Engagement is the key," he added.
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet also claimed it was "a question of balance", adding: "We don’t say we want to change everything - but we have embraced new ideas and brought in urban sports and natural sports because we thought that without that the divergence of sports would not be complete.
"So we need both sides."
Estanguet added that there were new requirements now of the Olympics and Paralympics – "the younger generation want to experience it in different ways, they want to be more active, to participate.
"People don’t want the Games to impact negatively on the environment, they want it to impact positively on the community," he said.
"That is why we have started our Games-related programmes in the schools to make it easier for young people to participate in sport."
Speaking on a live link from Los Angeles, Kathy Carter, chief revenue officer for the Los Angeles 2028 Games, said: "In terms of innovation, we are watching what Tony and all the Paris 2024 folk are creating.
"Our mantra is to think differently - we are constantly looking at what it will mean to be successful over the next few years.
"Generation Z and millennials will be the core of our followers for the Games of 2028."
From a live video link in Brazil, the International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said that he felt the Paralympics were likely to become "more and more relevant", adding that each Games offered different opportunities for the Paralympic Movement to achieve different things.
"Games come and go, the Paralympic Movement stays on, but every Games offers a chance for us to get to the next level," said Parsons.
Parsons also singled out the International Paralympic Committee’s collaboration last year with the makers of Rising Phoenix, the film released on Netflix telling the history of the Paralympics from the point of view of the athletes involved, as being an example of innovation that reached out to a new audience group.