By Amelia Fisher-Starzynski from Glasgow, UK, 09 November 2015: Leading figures from the world of sport governance and major event ownership have come together in Glasgow for the HOST CITY 2015 Conference and Exhibition. The event, taking place over two days, is the foremost EU-based meeting of cities and sports, business and cultural events.
Heading up a list of world-class speakers, Sir Craig Reedie CBE, Vice President, International Olympic Committee (IOC), called for host cities of major sporting events to take their lead from the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform, which has recently seen the Olympic organisation implement a process of positive change.
In his opening keynote address on creative innovation, Sir Craig Reedie said:
“The real innovation [of the Agenda 2020 bid process] is what we choose to call the invitation phase. The aim of this phase is to provide an ongoing dialogue with targeted information tailored to meet the city’s specific needs and their own long-term development plans.
“Cities are assisted to better shape their value propositions, discussing proposals and potential solutions that deliver excellent gains without compromising the field of play for the athletes but also meeting the needs to the city and the region to ensure the Games leave a positive, long-term and sustainable legacy.
David Grevemberg, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation and head of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, continued this theme on a panel, which explored how events and cities can innovate to thrive, by explaining how fresh approaches can enable cities to activate their brands, economy and society.
“What we tried to do [with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games] was to make sure that every milestone we achieved resonated with accessibility and inclusivity for all. That was a narrative that the entire partnership subscribed to and held each other accountable to. That approach was innovative in terms of its responsibility.
“The model we created, certainly for the city of Glasgow, will endure for some time – the innovation of creating a legacy conscious model and approach to delivering major events for a greater cause. How do we promote a more peaceful environment, how do we drive a more sustainable approach within cities and how do we help them prosper. If we can drive these things then we can stay relevant as a Federation and as an event.”
Also speaking on day one on the topic of the changing face of sports organisations were influential heads of International Federations:
* Brian Cookson, President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI);
* Sarah Lewis, Secretary General of the International Skiing Federation (FIS) and the Association of International Winter Sports Federations; and
* Louise Martin CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Chair of sportscotland
Brian Cookson, President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), said:
“The practicalities of Agenda 2020 have hit us quite hard, as a sport we’ve been asked to accept some pretty radical changes for Tokyo 2020 for instance, perhaps more radical than any other sport, and that includes looking at moving our venues quite some distance from Tokyo. That’s a work in progress; we’re quite close to a solution on that.
“But I think if anything Agenda 2020 didn’t go far enough – I think we have to keep adapting to change. Change isn’t something that you do once and forget about it, you have to keep adapting, keep evolving and if you don’t, like the dinosaurs, you become extinct and we don’t want to do that.”
Delegates were also provided with an update on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games from Hidetoshi Fujisawa, Executive Director of Communication and Engagement, Tokyo 2020.
Hidetoshi Fujisawa, said:
“It’s been a little more than two years since Tokyo was elected and the enthusiasm and passion for the games remains as clear as ever. The Tokyo 2020 organising committee has not wasted a second in preparing the delivery of the Games.
“Tokyo 2020’s vision is clear. We believe sport has the power to change the world and our future. The Tokyo 1964 Games completely transformed Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as the most innovative in history, will bring positive reform to the world by building on three core concepts: achieving personal best, unity in diversity and connecting to tomorrow.”
Additional Host City 2015 conference highlights included a panel session on how events, brands and media organisations use creative marketing to maximise consumer engagement – featuring notable speakers including Simon Clegg CBE, former COO, Baku 2015 European Games and Ali Russell, Director of Media and Strategic Partnerships, Formula E.
Day one of the conference concluded with a panel debate on how to build public support as cities bid for and host major international events. The discussion was led by key voices in international sport, including Alexander Koch, Corporate Communications Manager for FIFA and Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, Visit Scotland.
Paul Bush, OBE, who was involved in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, called into question the decision to rely on referendums to gauge public support:
“I’m not a great fan of public votes around major events, I often think they can get hijacked politically so you have to be quite cautionary about how you engage with the public.
“I do think you have to engage, we did some interesting awareness polls around the 2014 [Commonwealth] Games but in terms of actually having referendums, I’m talking about the Boston  situation or the Hamburg  situation, I think you’ve got to be really careful because you won’t always get the result that you’re looking for.”
The conference continues tomorrow with more influential speakers including, Stewart Regan, Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association, Malcolm Tarbitt, Executive Director – Safety and Security at the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), and Christopher Lee, Senior Principal at Populous.