A global audience, including IOC members, FIFA, sports ministers and leaders of event organizing committees and international federations, united for the first meeting of cities and sports, business and cultural events for the Americas on 29-30 June.
The two-day conference opened with a keynote address from IOC vice president Anita DeFrantz. Speaking of a world ravaged by the coronavirus, she said the sports industry was forced “to examine everything” as events took a financial hit. But through virtual offices, new visions of how to produce and present sports had emerged.
Three weeks before the postponed Tokyo Olympics get underway, she said the execution of Games planning for event organizers and athletes had been hugely challenging against the backdrop of the pandemic.
“We may face similar issues with Beijing 2022. The good news is we will have the experience of Tokyo to make certain things go well. The Olympics and Paralympics can bring back the joy,” she told delegates.
Prof. Uğur Erdener, head of World Archery and Chair of the IOC’s Medical and Scientific Commission, said the global vaccination program led him to believe “we are approaching the exit of the dark tunnel”.
Gabriela Ramos, assistant director general of UNESCO, said it was vital for sport to be part of policies to help countries, cities and communities emerge from the pandemic.
Erin Bromaghim, director of Olympic and Paralympic development for the Mayor of Los Angeles office, said LA had been a game-changer for the Olympic movement in 1984 and was poised to do so again in 2028. “Sustainability and reuse are baked into our hosting model,” she said.
David Siegel, president and CEO of Los Angeles Sports Council, pointed out that with more professional sports teams than any city in world, and the Olympics, Superbowl, FIFA World Cup and MLB’s 2022 All-Star Game on the horizon, LA is “uniquely positioned to capitalize on this.”
Among several organizing committees present was Santiago 2023, who gave an update on what they described as “the most important event in the history of our country”, with CEO Felipe de Pablo saying “We have a lot of tasks but we are confident in delivering and meeting the expectations of visitors.”
Peter Hutton, Facebook’s director of sports partnerships, talked about how social media could harness the power to connect rights holders with fans in authentic ways. “Live sports need to be on platforms where younger audiences are… to create interesting experiences. It can really grow the sports for the future.”
Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said there was a shift among traditional broadcasters to embrace opportunities for ongoing engagement and interactivity with fans, which had led the IOC to create its own digital platform – the Olympic Channel. “It’s a great opportunity for all rights holders.”
Brian Sullivan, CEO of NEP Group, said technology had to catch up with changing consumer desires and trends. “It’s a very exciting time. There’s a huge amount of innovation coming in the next 5-10 years. The lesson is ‘try to reinvent yourself before you need to’.”
Karin Korb, Paralympian and a Para-Sport consultant, urged event planners and rights holders to bring Gen Zers and millennials to the decision-making table to get their perspectives on environmental, social and governance questions.
Angela Ruggiero, co-founder and CEO of Sports Innovation Lab suggested that gambling presented host cities with interesting possibilities to grow revenue streams. “The question is how federations and sport grapple with the sensitivities around it.”
On NFTs, she said: “It’s definitely the shiny new object right now. If you’re getting into it, be very thoughtful. It’s a big opportunity to allow fans to own something wherever they are in the world.
In his closing remarks, conference director Ben Avison said: “According to our audience polls, all the changes we’ve been discussing here over the last two days – managing the pandemic, digitalization, private investment, ESG criteria – are having a positive impact on live events.”
Host City Americas was staged in partnership with Event Delivery Partner NEP Group, Official Sustainability Partner Aggreko; Gold Sponsor Orange Sports Forum; Preferred Event Technology Partner OnePlan, Silver Sponsors Dallas Sports Commission and Iventis; Strategic Partners Edmonton Events, Global Esports Federation, Mailman, S2|FOAMHAND and World Championship Air Race.
Following the first Host City Americas, the eight global Host City 2021 event takes place in Glasgow on 7-8 December. Follow www.hostcity.com for updates.