From building a host city’s self confidence to rebranding a country to the world, the hosting of a major sporting event has both immediate and long-lasting impact, said panelists discussing “Branding and Legacy” at the Doha Goals Forum.
Stephen A. Greyser, Richard P Chapman Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, offered a “scorecard” of issues that hosts should consider:
· The level of sport participation and achievement in the host country.
· Business issues such as development of infrastructure, tourism, jobs generation, trade and visitors.
· Planning and operations, including preparation and management of issues such as ticketing and security.
· The event’s legacy in terms of facilities, continuity of business development, and ongoing support to sport among host communities.
· Political aspects such as “elevating one’s presence in terms of seats at the global table” and, more generally, a host city or country’s image externally.
H.E. Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, observed that “one big reason why countries and cities like to host these events is to “speed up the process of building the nation and its infrastructure, including sport infrastructure, and modernizing the country.”
He also pointed out the soft legacy benefits. After developing a large volunteer cadre during the hosting of the 2011 Asian Games, the initiative generated a momentum of its own, with tremendous popularity among Qataris to volunteer at all the subsequent sport and not-sport events being held in the country.
China too experienced great satisfaction from hosting the 2008 Olympics, said Bin Hou, a triple Paralympics champion in high jump. “When it was so successful, people were really happy, but what’s more, we had more Chinese participating in sport.” He added that physical legacies included sports infrastructure and associated assets such as hospitals and greater accessibility to restaurants, banks, etc., for people with disabilities.
“From the Paralympics, lots of facilities for disabled people were built throughout the country,” he said.
On the power of big events to impact global perceptions, panelists gave particular focus to the opening ceremonies. “The impact that the opening has is huge. Through it you introduce your city or nation to the world. It’s an opportunity not to be missed,” said Deedee Corradini, President of the International Women’s Forum and former Mayor of Salt Lake City. She also said it offers an opportunity to dispel myths and “broaden perceptions of your city.”
Jim Sloman, Chief Operating Officer for Sydney 2000, said that his city’s ceremony “struck a cord with the world” and help Sydney “put itself on the world map.”
Both Corradini and Sloman said successfully hosting the games helped dispel an “inferiority complex” among citizens. “Sydney was successful and that gave Australians great pride, knowing that they are globally competitive and can deliver successfully in a global marketplace,” Sloman said.
As well, after hosting these events both cities emerged as attractive locations for companies’ regional and international headquarters. Salt Lake City now ranks year after year as one of the best cities in the United States in which to do business, Corradini said.
From a sponsor’s perspective, associating with a major sporting event is a long-term commitment, said Boutros Boutros, a Senior Vice President at Emirates Airlines. “We believe the results of sponsorship build up through the years.” He called on leagues and event owners to see sponsors as partners and to work with them to find creative ways for sponsors to leverage their involvement. “At the FIFA World Cup 2010, FIFA allowed our cabin crew to play a role in the closing ceremony. That was the most effective branding element in the sponsorship.”