The London experience
In discussion at the opening session of Doha GOALS, former Olympic champion and Chairman of the London Organizing Committee for this summer’s Olympic Games, Lord Coe emphasised the collaborative nature of large sporting events and their potential for engagement, on economic, social and spiritual levels.
Among the lessons learned in London, he said, was the real importance of private and public sector partnerships: “No organisation alone has the experience or the resources to do everything,” he said, pointing to the experience gained by the London Committee which could now take this message far and wide.
“”We have an opportunity to provide solutions for other Olympic Committees and to engage young people around the world – there are many opportunities in less developed countries but inevitably you are going to take events to areas with less expertise and experience and while this is not an inhibitor, it means global representatives will have to work harder (to assist them).”
Stressing the positive effects of hosting major sporting events, Lord Coe said that even during the global financial crisis from 2008, the contribution to economic growth of the preparations for the Olympics was extensive.
“We punched through the economic downturn because our vision was clear – to use the Games to transform the lives of young people and we delivered this not just during our bid but through the seven years of preparation.”
As well as creating thousands of jobs and infrastructure business valued at billions of dollars, he said the Games also inspired a new level of contribution by people who volunteered to assist at every level of organisation: “We had 70,000 extraordinary volunteers and this was crucial – in addition, 15 million people came out on to the streets through the country to witness the Olympic Torch Relay.”
Lord Coe also spoke of other achievements of the Games, which had already raised levels of participation in sport throughout Britain as well as challenging misconceptions about people with disabilities through the staging of the highly successful and popular Paralympics.
In conclusion, he recommended any organiser of sporting events to look closely at how they communicated with the younger generation to boost their involvement: “This is crucial – you have to look at the rapidity of change and the speed of communications, the implications of this and get in to their landscape,” he said.
The global downturn had dented confidence in government, finance and the legal profession, even the media, he continued, and sport had an opportunity to fill that vacuum.
“Winning and losing is about hard work, fair competition and equality, the antithesis of some of the narrow aggressive behaviour we have seen.”