Host City: The theme of Host City 2019 is “Innovate; Reformulate; Co-Create” - what are your expectations of this event?
Nellie Kim: To be an active participant in a big sports forum is, indeed, one of the greatest incentives to the person to continue developing their natural talents and enlarge the boundaries of their personal achievements. In this respect, all that relates to the organisation of big and inspiring events is a point of interest for us.
To share experiences and to hear about the innovative ideas of all the stakeholders in the sector – be they representatives of city councils, national governing bodies, business, potential, or actual sponsors, event organisers, technical experts and all the parties contributing to the success of major events – is vital for us as the world’s governing body for gymnastics. Learning from each other and sharing experiences is one of the key factors of becoming better and reaching higher.
Host City: As Chair of the Innovation Commission at FIG, what are you doing to bring new ideas, formats and disciplines such as parkour into gymnastics?
Nellie Kim: The idea about introduction of the parkour into the FIG programmes belongs to our President Morinari Watanabe who was personally involved in the development of the project.
In his official report from May 2019 he stresses on the fact that the future belongs to urban sports, like cycling with BMX, basketball with 3x3, volleyball with beach volleyball, as well as skateboarding and climbing etc. So, gymnastics has come up with parkour. Urban sports are booming, and we must keep in pace with this process.
Parkour World Cups have already been successfully held in Chengdu, China, and then in Hiroshima, Japan, where it was part of the Urban Sports Festival that attracted a big crowd of spectators.
As for the proposals the Innovation and the Ambassadors Commissions which I am chairing, we have submitted to the attention of the FIG authorities a number of projects over the last few months, some of which are:
- Changes to the Olympic Games 2024 Qualification Programme;
- Live streaming from the Qualification stage of the FIG World Championships using our IRCOS system;
- The Innovation Commission is exploring possibilities to include new disciplines into the FIG programme.
Host City: How is the Ambassadors’ Commission helping FIG to engage young people in its events and their co-creation?
Nellie Kim: The most direct approach to this matter is of course, the Volunteer programme applied by many of our member-Federations.
We, at the Ambassadors’ Commission also pay specific attention to the fact that there is no bigger inspiration for any child or young person than meeting their sport idols in person. Meetings with young gymnasts and fans is only one of the long list of Gymnastics Ambassadors’ activities prior and during the World Championships since the programme was introduced in 2017.
The role of Gymnastics Ambassador has already been taken by legends like Nadia Comaneci, Kyle Shuffelt and Svetlana Boginskaia in artistic gymnastics; Alina Kabaeva and Maria Pertova in rhythmic gymnastics, Alexander Moskalenko and Irina Karavaeva in trampoline, to name but a few. I was nominated as Ambassador of 2nd European Games, which will be held in Minsk in June 2019.
Many of our greatest champions from the past also visit clubs and conduct workshops in various countries across the globe to promote gymnastics and to inspire young people.
Big attention should also be given to continue promoting Gymnastics as the base for all other sports. This means Gymnastics like it existed in the schools in the past and helped children to develop basic body skills, discipline and healthy habits for the rest of their lives.
At the same time our ”Gymnastics for All” division caters for people of any age, from toddlers to old age, giving them the chance to enjoy organised classes and even take part in a massive international event called Gymnaestrada which is held every four years and attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world.
Host City: And how is FIG raising the profile of women and disabled people through its events?
Nellie Kim: At the 2018 FIG Congress the decision was taken to have at least 30 per cent women amongst elected authorities, and this was a big step forward. Because of the specifics of our sport, the majority of our athletes are female, and it is only very logic to apply their experience and knowledge after they have ended their sports career. In this respect our FIG Women’s commission is very active. It has recently organised the Women in Leadership Forum held right after the FIG Council meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia in May. To add to all this, our President Mr Watanabe is the President of the IOC “Women in Sport” Commission.
As for Gymnastics for people with physical impediments – several of our national member-federations develop this discipline. Here again, in charge is our “Gymnastics for All“ commission which comes up with projects encouraging the progress of Disability gymnastics and promotes the best practices in the field. The FIG President wanted to move even further and has asked our commission to study the problem and look at the possibilities for gymnasts with disability to participate at the Paralympic Games.
Host City: The FIG World Championships in Glasgow in 2015 were hailed as a new benchmark in event presentation. What is FIG and its host cities doing to reach even greater heights?
Nellie Kim: Yes, the World Championships in Glasgow demonstrated several novelties which became a norm in the organization of major gymnastics events across the world in that the entertainment flavour of the competitions was strongly interwoven with the traditional technical requirements of our sport. The scale of Glasgow 2015 World Championships was possible due to the enormous support from the UK Sports Governing Bodies, the Glasgow City Council and British Gymnastics.
However, not many countries in the world enjoy and can rely on such enormous financial support, marvellous venue, logistics in place and professional expertise in every respect, as they were demonstrated in Glasgow 2015.
To draw the most rational and applicable ideas, the FIG conducts a “Transfer of knowledge” meetings from one Local Organizing Committee to the next. However, I must stress the fact that the organization of each World Championships is a prerogative of the relevant National Federation. Sadly, many of our member-federations have the enthusiasm, the ideas and the knowledge, but do not enjoy the above-mentioned attributes for success.
Nellie Kim is speaking at Host City 2019, which takes place in Glasgow on 26-27 November. View the full agenda and speaker line up