Athletes should be the focus of every great sporting event, while the television production, sponsors and public sector support are other keys to success
At major sporting events, the competition begins at the same time the bidding process is opened. The Olympics are the biggest multidisciplinary competition worldwide. Through sport, the staging of the Games puts the host country on the world map, revives its economy, boosts tourism, modernizes and, in the best of cases, increases its infrastructure and, most importantly, completely transforms a city that will live the legacy of those games once the competition is over.
The legacy both in terms of infrastructure and of the management experience is one of the best introductions when bidding for future sporting events. The Olympics have helped create an organizational model that, on a smaller scale, is replicated in other disciplines which, with the holding of major international events, manage to attract the interest of the public and a greater appreciation and dissemination of their sport.
Sports that do not enjoy a massive following in their regular competition calendar can be great shows at specific moments if their organization is professional and attractive to sponsors and the media. The Super Bowl is a clear example: the whole world comes to a standstill during the NFL final. Sponsors fight to be on the list, artists chosen to cover the breaks see this sport as their best promotional platform, and advertisers pay millions to fill those minutes of advertising in a sport that, the rest of the year, attracts almost exclusively the interest of the American public.
But what determines whether a major sporting event enables everyone involved to win and have a great impact? It depends, above all, on good planning. And who better to speak about this subject than a man who has been involved in organizing world championships in handball, swimming and athletics, Davis Cup finals, the World Race and the Spain-Portugal bid for the FIFA World Cup Football 2018-22. Isidre Rigau is a strategic planning consultant for major sporting events and the founder of Suma Sports. In this interview, he talks about the resources that are essential for successfully organizing major sporting events.
What are the main elements in the organization of a major sporting event?
First, the athletes; the focus should be on what is the essence of sports organization, which is basically that athletes get the best sports results, and achieve excellence. To do this, we need the technological means and exceptional facilities. The second element would be the television production, because if we do not we televise the event it won’t have any impact in the world. And third, the sponsors, who get us the financial resources to make it possible. There should be a balance between these three elements. And probably, in any event we have to organize, public sector support is fundamental, whether for services or financial resources. So, in the end, we’re talking about four elements.
What key aspects cannot be neglected in the organization of a major sporting event?
Often, when organizing large events, people get lost in the debate between who provides the resources or who makes such events visible and, in the end, what really matters is what the athletes do, who are the real heroes. And so what should drive most decisions is the sport.
What’s the latest trend in sporting events?
The most fashionable sporting practice right now, which is not regulated or federated, is everything related to roller sports.
What are the essential requirements for a city to be chosen to organize a major sporting event?
First, reliability: you have to convey that you have the knowledge, availability and expertise, so that whoever is granting the event has the confidence that the city has all the ideal qualities in terms of facilities, environment or climate for the event to be better. Once you have been granted an event, you must return that event to its owner with added value, and that’s what the city offers.
Let’s talk about an event like the World Roller Games 2019 to be held in Barcelona and for which you are doing the strategic planning. What makes it interesting for the city, its citizens and for sponsors?
Barcelona is a world leader in some of these modalities; in skateboarding or skating, in the tradition of classic skating; in roller hockey, Catalonia is a world leader, and our players, who provide the bulk of the national team, have a long tradition of world championships and European championships. So, what Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole can offer the World Roller Games is very important. Exceptional surroundings, exceptional sporting stages , exceptional facilities and a proven ability to manage any event.
What are the timeframes for an event like the World Roller Games? When does it start to be organized? For how long? Where do you start?
It’s in 2019. So, the logic would be that in 2016 we basically work on strategic elements, which would be the master plan, the marketing plan, the technology plan, the television project, and develop the whole corporate image. In 2017, we start building a small structure that basically works on organizing the various competitions. This structure will probably end up with around 2,800 people, between volunteers and professionals , working in the operational phase.