THE ANNUAL REPORT 2014 SPORTSPRO DESTINATIONS 2014
Destinations report 2014 BIDDING
The SPorTS ConSulTanCy The Briefing: Bidding
he future of major event bidding and host procurement process was a major subject of debate across the industry in 2013, as the latest round of Olympic bidding – the most high-profile example of sports event bidding - came to a conclusion. Tokyo ultimately emerged victorious from a lengthy, not to mention costly, battle with Madrid and Istanbul and will host the 2020 Games. By the time it welcomes the world six years from now, the way the largest sporting event on the planet is awarded may well have changed fundamentally. New International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has given the goahead for a review of the host city selection process, ensuring the debate will continue throughout 2014 until the IOC meets in December to form some conclusions. The Sports Consultancy, led by managing directors Angus Buchanan and Robert Datnow, are about to make what is a natural progression into the world of megaevent bidding, having overseen host city procurement processes for the likes of the Volvo Ocean Race and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and worked closely with many cities since its formation in 2006. With the Olympics tending to set the tone for many international federations, Datnow unsurprisingly begins by reflecting on the 2020 race just concluded. The three finalists all went into September’s vote at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires facing individual challenges, but whilst there have been suggestions that the two-year process has become too drawn out and expensive, Datnow puts it this way: “In the 2020 process, all of those candidate cities could have put on an Olympic Games, 8 | www.sportspromedia.com
i think it’s important to be cultivating relationships through a bidding process. and there are some things that quite rightly emerge during the applicant phase, in terms of the composition of the stakeholder group, how the Games are going to be funded in terms of capital infrastructure and operating cost,” he says. “The process is designed to enable that to happen, it’s long enough, but I think it’s equally important to be cultivating relationships through a bidding process.” Two cities, Baku and Doha, did not make it past the first, applicant city phase, with the IOC offering the cities its reasoning once it had made its decision following the submission of files by each bid. “In Baku’s case there were I think several lessons in the IOC evaluation commission report,” Datnow suggests. “They said there were issues with a lack of experience of hosting multi-sport events, security and hotel infrastructure. In some ways those are factors that the IOC knew at the very start of the bidding process and it remains an open question whether or not the IOC or any event owner running a bidding process, has a duty to communicate pass/fail criteria which it knows at the beginning of the process at the outset, or alternatively to encourage bidders to have a go and to learn live in a process, and to submit themselves to the process with all of the cost and the investment of time and political capital that
involves. I think that’s one of the things that the IOC is considering in the remodelling of the new process.” Carving out long-lasting relationships with cities, successful or not, is essential for any rights-holder, Datnow argues. After all, as he says, “there can only be one winner and the vast majority of all bidders will be successful”. Constructive feedback has become a vital part of the process. “I think it’s incumbent on the rights-holder, to communicate fairly and honestly with all bidders about the requirements; to enable enough time for those stakeholder groups to be formed and for the financial models and evaluations to take place, but to do so responsibly in such a way to encourage those bidders to come back and bid again if they are unsuccessful. “It is important not only to maintain those relationships but also to create stepping stones; to enable Baku to understand what it would need to do in order to bid successfully again, to communicate whether or not a Youth Olympic Games or a Youth winter Olympic Games or a European Games or any of the regional Games is a stepping stone on the way to becoming an Olympic host, or whether in fact it is a prize in itself. All of those things are important for bidding cities to know and for the rights holder to communicate. Certainly with the processes
we run for the Volvo Ocean Race or a WTA Championships, part of our thinking is not only to find the winner, but also to make sure we are cultivating relationships for the future.” Although both Datnow and Buchanan agree that any evolution of the IOC bidding process will inevitably have a ripple effect throughout sport, the latter offers a reminder that other host city bidding models do exist – and thrive. “We’ve found that while there are certain elements that the IOC does which are referable to the bidding processes which we run, we have been consciously working with international federations and private event owners on host city bidding procurement processes which don’t necessarily slavishly follow the IOC model,”
Buchanan starts. “We have reached our own conclusions, working with our clients, in terms of the best way of running that sort of procurement, which needs, because you’re dealing with the public sector, to recognise the way in which the public sector globally – and while there are differences, there are similarities – makes decisions and has requirements for transparency from the outset and to have full clarity in terms of the overall exposure politically and economically that they’ll have. “There is always going to be a limited pool of cities capable of bidding now or in the future,” Buchanan adds. “Preserving those relationships by making sure you’re not causing cities to spend money or invest political capital
unnecessarily from an early stage, before it becomes public, is maybe something that needs to be looked at. Once they meet those criteria and are able to meet your minimum requirements for your event, then you can encourage creativity on top of that.” As the debate over mega-event bidding rumbles on, Datnow concludes: “We see a trend amongst international federations aspiring to achieve three outcomes from bidding: the professionalisation and streamlining of costs of bidding processes; the articulation of return on investment to maximise commercial value; and engaging with the public sector to achieve better mutually beneficial partnerships and cast iron guarantees.”
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Destinations Report 2014 BIDDING
Learning from its experiences in the 2016 race, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid team chose to put a new stadium on the site of the venue for the 1964 Games at the heart of its pitch to the IOC
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HOW TOKyO TOOK 2020 By James Emmett Originally published November 2013 edition of SportsPro
A two-year campaign climaxed in September 2013 in Buenos Aires as Tokyo saw off competition from Madrid and Istanbul to land the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Behind the Japanese jubilation was an international effort dating back nearly a decade and honed to perfection. This is the definitive account of how the bid was won.
hen the IOC delegates filed into the auditorium in the Buenos Aires Hilton on 7th September to cast their votes, the race to host the 2020 Games was supposed to be too close to call. Tokyo had the technical excellence, Istanbul had the most compelling natural narrative, while Madrid had that all-important momentum. In the end, it wasn’t close at all. In the second round of voting – Madrid having been ejected in a first-round tie-break ballot with Istanbul – 60 of the 96 voting IOC members opted for the Japanese capital, with just 36 voting for its Turkish counterpart. “No-one quite predicted, maybe apart from the Tokyo campaign committee, that it would be quite the scale it was in the second ballot,” says Mike Lee, founder of Vero Communications and a bidding expert who found himself, for the first time in a long while, without a horse in the final reckoning of an Olympic hosting campaign. Though the bidding cycles have become regimented and the regulations quite tightly codified, every Olympic campaign is unique, the dynamic shaped by the makeup of its participants as well as a cocktail of wider geo-political, socio-economic and environmental concerns, not to mention the vagaries and personal agendas of the elite band of voting IOC members. Rome’s decision to withdraw on economic grounds, and Doha and Baku’s ejection before the candidate phase, the second and final stage of the IOC’s bidding process,
meant a three-way scrap between Madrid, in its third successive attempt, Tokyo, in its second, and Istanbul, back again after unsuccessful attempts for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games. The relative lack of candidates compared to previous years will have been a concern to the IOC, especially as outside forces must have tipped both Madrid and Istanbul perilously close to the exit at various stages, but made for an intriguing race nonetheless. Most insiders accept that the apex in the race for the 2016 Games came at the SportAccord Convention in Denver in 2009. It was there that the Rio bid, spearheaded by a slick communications effort put together by Lee, made a huge impact with a presentation to the Olympic movement that made spectacular use of a forceful map graphic. Having been on the ropes, Rockystyle, earlier in the campaign, the Rio effort then began to quaff that bidding elixir, momentum, which eventually saw it home at the vote in Copenhagen four months later. SportAccord 2009 was a distinct turning point the like of which, on balance, was not evident in the 2020 campaign. Instead, the Tokyo bid started strong and gained fractional uplifts in momentum at a handful of key checkpoints along the journey. A less spectacular trajectory than the one taken by Rio in the 2016 race, perhaps, but one that can possibly be explained by the cautious nature of the 2020 campaign as a whole. Bid teams, by and large, were on the back foot for large portions of the two-year
race. “It was a difficult campaign cycle,” explains Lee, who was working with the Doha bid in the applicant phase of the process. “Mainly because all three bidding cities were dealing with significant external factors that were important and relevant, but over which they had very little control – ranging from a doping issue through to protests on the streets, question marks over at least one of the bid city’s economies, and of course, ultimately, even nuclear fallout. It led to probably a more defensive campaign environment than we’ve seen in recent years.” Keep the best and improve the rest Tokyo 2020 did not make the common mistake of simply mimicking the previous successful bid – although there was a nod to the now-famous map trick that swung it for Rio in several of the team’s presentations. Instead, the team looked to build on the strength of its own effort for 2016, keeping the bulk of the plan and adding some sparkle to one or two areas. ‘Keep the best and improve the rest’, a line conceived by Nick Varley and his Seven46 communications team, became something of a refrain for bid chief executive Masato Mizuno in the team’s various presentations. Ostensibly, it applied to Tokyo’s technical plans, but it was a concept whose tentacles spread to all areas of the bid, not least to personnel. Many, but not all, of the international consultants from the previous The Destinations Report 2014 | 11
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The key players
Tsunekazo Takeda The president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) since 2001, Takeda was a natural leader for the bid. He presided over the bid committee and was elected as a member of the IOC in the midst of the campaign in July 2012.
Masa Takaya While Tokuaki Suzuki was the bid’s communications director, Masa Takaya was appointed to handle the international side of the job as he had done for the 2016 campaign. A stint at the International Triathlon Union between bids, allied to his tireless industry, served the 2020 effort handsomely.
Nick Varley A communications veteran of the successful London and Rio Olympic campaigns, Briton Varley and his Seven46 agency were tasked with defining the key messaging and narrative for the Tokyo bid, and then with bringing that to life through all the creative executions, including, crucially, the various presentations the bid team would make.
Masato Mizuno Mizuno left his role as chairman of the sportswear giant his grandfather founded to become chief executive of the bid. A well-known and popular figure within the Olympic movement, his natural charisma and outgoing demeanour were assets throughout.
Naoki Inose Having replaced Shintaro Ishihara as the governor of Tokyo in December 2012, Inose also took his political predecessor’s place as the chair of the 2020 bid council. Unlike Ishihara, Inose was fully committed to the Olympic effort and, after forming a close bond with Varley in particular proved one of the most efficacious presenters in the bid team’s arsenal.
Etienne Thobois Frenchman Thobois and his Keneo agency were contracted by the Tokyo team to provide key consultancy on all the technical aspects of the bid, save transport and security. Thobois, chief executive of the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007, had been a technical advisor to the IOC in the previous bidding campaign and was on the evaluation commission visit to Tokyo for the 2016 effort.
Tokuaki Suzuki – a former competitions director of the Asian Football Confederation, Suzuki joined the bid as director of communications in April 2012.
Simon Balderstone – another former IOC advisor and a member of the 2016 evaluation commission, Balderstone, the Australian director of the Ways and Means Consultancy, worked with Thobois on preparing the bid team for technical grillings following presentations.
advisors’ to the bid team. His willingness to front up on the Fukushima issue was crucial.
Svetlana Picou – as she did for the 2016 bid, Paris-based Picou headed up a team of strategic communications and PR executives from Weber Shandwick, the agency hired to provide international public relations support. 12 | www.sportspromedia.com
Shinzo Abe – the Japanese prime minister since December 2012, Abe was one of three senior political ‘supreme
Diane Bernstein – a veteran of the 2016 campaign, as well as operational projects on every summer Games since 2000, Australian Bernstein’s Diane Bernstein Design was brought in to provide venue design expertise for the Olympic village and media centre plans.
Neil Fergus – Fergus and his team at Australian-based Intelligent Risks were tasked with consulting on technical aspects of Tokyo’s security plan for the 2020 Games. Fergus was a senior advisor at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Mami Sato – Paralympic long jumper Sato stole the show in the final presentation in Buenos Aires with a moving speech about losing a leg to cancer and her fears for her family in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, which hit her home town.
Princess Hisako of Takamado – a senior member of the Japanese Imperial Family, Princess Takamado’s speech in the final presentation in Buenos Aires was not the only star turn she put in during the bid campaign.
Panos Protopsaltis – Greek Protopsaltis was head of transport for Athens 2004 and put together the transport plan for Rio’s successful 2016 campaign. As Tokyo 2020’s international transport consultant,
effort were retained – Seven46 effectively replacing Jon Tibbs and his JTA agency in the principal messaging role was probably the key change – while Masa Takaya, the communications factotum who Varley describes candidly as “a total lynchpin and a legend”, was the unsung backbone of the bid as he was for 2016. In fact, although Tokyo’s total bid budget came in at US$83.3 million, it was a more streamlined effort than the previous one. For 2016 there was a bigger budget still, and far more consultants contracted. “Perhaps too many,” says Varley, “with conflicting voices and so on. Their whole bid in 2016 seemed to suffer a little bit from being a bit too big, if that’s possible. The first thing that the bid decided was that they needed to be smaller and more focused.” Varley, whose company was approached by five of the six cities in the initial applicant phase, explains that the guiding principle for the bid was set on the back of the learnings from 2016 in one of the very first meetings he had with the bid team in October 2011. “They were almost surprised that they had lost in 2016 because they thought they had the best bid, and what had let them down was the story, and they didn’t put together a campaign that effectively sold the best bid,” he says. “They were top in the evaluation commission reports, but despite that they were miles behind when it came to votes being counted. The bid committee themselves were very aware that they needed to have a stronger campaign, a better sell – not a better product necessarily, although they did improve the product, but a better sell.”
Technical quality The ‘product’, as Varley puts it, was widely praised by the IOC evaluation commission report put together by Sir Craig Reedie in June. Tokyo’s traditional metropolitan strengths – its economy, its security, and its transport infrastructure – were all highlighted. The US$4.5 billion city government fund already ring-fenced to cover capital expenditure associated with the Games was recognised as ‘significantly reduc[ing] the risks normally inherent in the delivery of Games infrastructure by government.’ Tokyo’s technical concept focused on ‘operational excellence and efficiency’. Like the previous bid, all venues would fall within an 8km radius, with venue clusters fitted into two overlapping thematic zones representing the city’s history and future: the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone. The two standout changes from the 2016 effort were in the positioning of the Olympic village, moved closer to the venues in the Tokyo Bay Zone making for a more compact cluster on the waterfront, and in the decision to build a spectacular new Zaha Hadid-designed Olympic Stadium on the site of the venue for the 1964 Tokyo Games. The majority of venues would sit in the Tokyo Bay Zone, an Olympic Park-style venue cluster on the waterfront – compact, but unfenced and completely in and of the city itself. Etienne Thobois and his team from Parisbased Keneo proved to be an ace up Tokyo’s sleeve on the technical side. Thobois, who had picked through the 2016 plans with a fine-tooth comb on the other side of the fence in his previous role as an IOC advisor,
he was tasked with optimising the world’s most extensive urban railway and road system for the bid. Diamil Faye, Francoise Zweifel, youngSook Lee – Senegalese Faye, founder of the Jappo sports management agency, Swiss Zweifel, former director of the Olympic Museum, and South Korean Lee, an advisor to the successful PyeongChang 2018 bid, rounded out the international advisory team for the 2020 bid. knew exactly what improvements needed to be made before he’d even been contacted by the bid team. “To tell you the truth I always thought in 2016 that Tokyo was probably the best bid,” he explains. “I thought they were really decent people in the right spirit of the Olympic movement. We thought it would be a good thing to work with those guys; we believed in their bid and we saw from day one that there was a great chance of winning. “Technically, in all fairness, it was very easy for us to address the issues because there were not that many. The Olympic stadium was taken back to the 1964 venue, which was actually a very smart move because it took a lot of pressure logistically from that big area. It made a lot more sense. Technically, the operations would be much more fluid when the time comes to deliver the Games. “The usual strengths were there, too, which were the accommodation and the incredible transport network, and a very strong financial environment to back that up.” Tackling the elephant All three bidding cities had serious external factors that needed to be addressed. The faltering Spanish economy – and how it could be negated – always sat front and centre in Madrid’s presentations. The Madrid team also had to deal with the fallout from the trial of Eufemiano Fuentes – the disgraced doctor suggesting, in the midst of Madrid’s campaign, a profound culture of doping across Spanish sport. Istanbul, meanwhile, had to tackle its own doping scandal when 31 Turkish athletes were given The Destinations Report 2014 | 13
Destinations Report 2014 BIDDING
Princess Takamado arrives in Buenos Aires to deliver her speech to the IOC membership
bans during the IAAF World Athletics Championships after an alarming doping programme was uncovered. The timing, just a month before the Buenos Aires Session, was inopportune for the bid team. Having posted consistently strong public support numbers throughout the campaign, the Turks also struggled to steer their messaging safely through the civil unrest that began to hit Istanbul’s streets in late May. Tokyo, of course, had the Fukushima nuclear ‘crisis’ to deal with in the wake of the Tohuku tsunami of March 2011. “Both Madrid and Istanbul took a decision that they had to explain those issues,” recounts Varley. “Whether that was right or wrong I’m not sure, because actually both of them perhaps overdid the tackling head-on thing, and that brings us onto the third issue which is Fukushima. Until the last week of the campaign, that really wasn’t an issue for the Tokyo bid. We were always aware of it, it was always on the radar, but were there questions about it in press conferences? Until the last week, not really. Was it being mentioned by members in international relations meetings, as far as we were aware? No, not really. It only really became an issue for the bid in that very last week of the campaign when it became a live news story. “People at the other bids were maybe pushing it a little bit as well. But the way we dealt with it in the final presentation was to take it head-on, but tackle it very quickly – deal with it in two or three sentences, with 14 | www.sportspromedia.com
the top man, who was fantastic, and whose answer in the Q&A was even better.” Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, made a direct pledge to the Olympic movement in his address to the IOC members in the final presentation. “Let me assure you,” he said. “The situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” Lee agrees that Abe’s approach was effective, but wasn’t convinced by the bid team’s overall handling of the Fukushima messaging. “I think it was a bit mixed,” he argues. “In Buenos Aires, certainly in terms of the media events, they were definitely taking some hits. I think it was crucial in the end that the prime minister was present and dealt with the issue absolutely directly in front of the members. “They came through relatively unscathed on that in the end, but perhaps it was only properly nailed as an issue right toward the end and it did take the prime minister to do it.” After tragedy, however, comes renewal, and the bid team did a good job of emphasising the potential for rejuvenation after the ravages of the 2011 tsunami. Paralympian Mami Sato was a tour de force in the final presentation, eloquently and passionately making the case for sport as a catalyst for reinvigoration. While IOC regulations specifically prohibit direct criticisms between the bidding teams, most tend to highlight strengths within their own bid that correspond with weaknesses in their rivals’. Tokyo’s consistent positioning as the safe option, while not particularly exciting in the previous campaign, would have seemed a soothing balm compared to the volatility in both Madrid and Istanbul. Besides, London 2012 had proved that a successful Games in an established market can add just as much lustre, if not more, to the Olympic movement as a pioneering move to a ‘new’ city. “I understand that many people are saying that our bid is the safe option in this campaign,” Governor Inose said in the SportAccord presentation in St Petersburg in May. “What I don’t understand is why some people seem to think that this could be a bad thing.” The joke was well received – a fact that amazed the hundreds of Japanese media members that were following the bid
Chief executive Masato Mizuno’s charisma and enthusiasm proved invaluable to the bid team
team around the world – and struck a chord with an IOC membership looking ahead to a troubling trio of Games on the horizon. Sochi, Rio and PyeongChang all have their problems, and for the first time in years a safe pair of hands proved appealing. Learning to brag “Their presentations were better than I remember in 2016,” says Lee, and his voice is not a lone one on the matter. From the off there was a recognition within the bid team that communication, and specifically presentation, let them down in the previous campaign. “From the beginning Nick Varley has been a huge asset for the bid team and he just kept explaining how important it is to be ‘un-Japanese’ in front of the international audiences to our senior leaders,” explains Takaya with a laugh. “Thanks to his huge effort I think our senior leaders were able to fully understand how important it was, which is why they were able to act like they did on the international stages.” In order to counter Istanbul’s strong ‘west meets east’ bridging premise, Varley was keen to position the race as two European cities against one Asian one. Nevertheless, in order to make an impact with a predominantly western audience, the bid team were coached in gestures and presentational behaviour that wouldn’t have come naturally to the Japanese.
“One of the things we discussed very early on, even during the ‘getting to know you’ interview stage, was the need for them to have a more effective sales pitch, the need for them to have a narrative that connected with sport, connected with the core audience, and effective spokespeople to deliver that, people who could deliver with western-style language skills, passion, emotion, humour even, rather than it being a little bit grey, for want of a better word,” adds Varley. “That was all agreed up front.” The course was set early on, and it was kept to. Language was the first hurdle that had to be jumped for Varley and his team. Senior leadership and other presenting members were drilled on their English from the outset but still, Varley admits, a couple of the speakers “who presented in what you would think was perfect English don’t speak a word of English; they had literally just learned it and recited it.” Bid leader Takeda’s English was notable in its steady improvement from presentation to presentation. Once an English-language foundation was in place, Varley and the six Seven46 executives working on the bid got to work on the acting drills: “telling them, ‘Well, this line you’ve got here is meant to be funny; this line here is meant to be serious; this line here should be delivered really slowly because it’s important.’ All bids do it these days, but you spend weeks before the final presentation in particular drilling and drilling and drilling so that people have done it so many times that on the day it’s just another run-through.” Beyond the basics of language and presentation, one of the biggest challenges for Varley and his team lay in unshackling the modesty that Japanese culture encourages. “They see this sort of bragging as being a bad thing,” he explains. “One of the biggest challenges was trying to get them into that mindset, the western approach that says actually you’re in a pitch here, you have to brag a little bit – without criticising your opponents – but you have to talk up your strengths, and if your strengths cross over with your rivals’ weaknesses then so much the better. “So we had to really explain and convince them that it would be a good thing to talk about these big economic numbers because it’s a strength and we can’t let other cities claim their economies are this big or that
big when ours is in a totally different league. It was a factor that wasn’t used strongly enough in the last campaign. The hosting fund that the governor kept talking about is an astonishing sum of money – cash in the bank, as he says. The strength of corporate Japan; Tokyo just as a city would be one of the world’s top ten economies – these are all facts that we brought up to the fore and now they’re familiar because they’ve been repeated so many times. It’s important not to take these things for granted.” It wasn’t just the economy that was put up for comparison. Much of Tokyo’s lobbying effort focused on emphasising the nation’s impeccable anti-doping record. Much has been made of the support the bid gained from ‘kingmaker’ IOC member Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, the influential president of the Olympic Council of Asia, but IAAF president Lamine Diack was won round on the doping issue, and his active support was perhaps more important. A unified bid team with genuine star power From the moment Naoki Inose replaced Shintaro Ishihara – a controversial figure who had a tendency to alienate abroad – as the city’s governor, the Tokyo bid was united and completely committed, qualities that are easy to underestimate. Even when Inose, a marathon runner who understood the political capital in sport and who had brought a new vim to the bid in his first international presentation in London in early 2013, went off-message with an unflattering comment about the comparative standards of safety in Istanbul when he believed he was off the record, the bid team stuck together, stuck to the core messaging, and didn’t use the bid to further their own personal agendas. Takeda and Mizuno were exemplary leaders. Mizuno resigned his position as chairman of the eponymous sportswear company, which his grandfather founded in 1906, to become chief executive of the bid. Already a vice president of the JOC, Mizuno is a well-loved figure around the Olympic movement. As a sponsor of the Nagano winter Games in 1998, Mizuno was acclaimed for the recyclable
uniforms it provided for IOC officials. A natural extrovert with a mischievous sense of humour and a near permanent smile, Mizuno is from Osaka, a city whose people are renowned for their commercial acumen. But Mizuno, who likes to joke that when a company gets as far as the third generation of ownership it begins to fail, is no ruthless businessman. A fixture at Olympic Games for decades, he liked to have a photo taken of himself with whoever he met; he would always then make sure to send a copy to his new friend upon his return to Japan. Takeda, meanwhile, is a big hitter in Olympic circles. As Takaya explains, “IOC member, NOC president and bid president – this is like a royal straight flush in a bidding campaign!” Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the Second World War, Takeda-san would be Prince Takeda. The great-grandson of Emperor Meiji, who reigned from 1867 to 1912, Takeda is of noble stock. For oldschool IOC members, aristocracy carries considerable allure. It was Takeda who used his connections to secure the involvement of the Imperial household, which had pointedly stayed out of the 2016 campaign. This time around, the IOC evaluation commission was treated to an audience with the crown prince. At a banquet later that evening, prime minister Abe is said to have delivered a hugely underwhelming speech. In an atmosphere heavy with awkwardness, Princess Hisako of Takamodo then stood up and charmed the room with an astounding speech in perfect English and without the aid of notes. From that point, the bid team was desperate to convince the Imperial household agency to allow her to speak at the final presentation in Buenos Aires. When they consented, she didn’t disappoint. “I am more than pleased that it has fallen to me to personally convey our heartfelt thanks for the IOC’s assistance after the tsunami,” she told the assembled members in the Buenos Aires Hilton in September. “This is the first time a member of the Imperial family has addressed you, and I dare to hope that our paths may cross again.” Extended interviews with all the key figures behind the Tokyo 2020 bid are available online at www.sportspromedia.com The Destinations Report 2014 | 15
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KeepIng up wIth the neIghbours by David Cushnan and Ian Mcpherson Originally published September 2013 edition of SportsPro
with its capital city, buenos Aires, awarded the 2018 Youth olympic games in July 2013, Argentina’s newly created national sports strategy is starting to reap results. A country known more for its cultural offerings is beginning to position itself as sport’s next major destination.
t may not yet have the global appeal and cachet of other, more established events but the 2018 Youth Olympic Games appear set to be the catalyst for the sporting rise of a sleeping giant. Buenos Aires was considered by some a surprise winner of the vote in early July, in which it saw off the compelling story of formerly crime-ridden Medellín and a technically solid bid from Glasgow, host of the next Commonwealth Games, but those observers
missed Argentina’s growing prominence within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the fact that of the three bidding cities Buenos Aires is the only one of sufficient size to eventually mount a bid for the main summer Games. That may not have been the primary reason why the Youth Olympic Games was created but in an era when the IOC is understandably concerned about the number of cities with the financial capability to bid for its showpiece event,
Argentina’s newfound interest in all things Olympic can perhaps be seen in a new light. Although the Beijing 2008 torch relay, which passed through Buenos Aires on the way to the Chinese capital, has been suggested as the starting point for Argentina’s Olympic ambitions, a more solid step came a year later when former show jumper Gerardo Werthein, the country’s chef du mission at the Beijing Games, was elected as a member of the IOC. Werthein has since overseen not
Manu ginobili, shooting guard for the nbA’s san Antonio spurs, is one of many examples of Argentina’s tradition of exporting top athletes globally
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A view across buenos Aires from high up in the estadio Alberto J Armando, or La bombonera, the 49,000-capacity home of soccer club boca Juniors
only the successful bid for the Youth Games but the planning and, shortly, the staging of the 125th IOC Session in September. The Buenos Aires event will be one of the most important Olympic gatherings in recent memory, with the elections for the new president of the IOC, the vote for the host city of the 2020 Games, plus the decision on which of squash, baseball/softball or wrestling will make it onto the summer sports programme, all taking place during a frantic week of meetings. Day-to-day responsibility for the smooth running of what has become one of the IOC’s signature events lies with Francisco Irarrazaval, a former rugby player who is now the secretary of sport for Buenos Aires. Irarrazaval was also the chief executive of Buenos Aires’ Youth Olympic Games bid; he has spent much of the past few months on aircraft, pressing the flesh at Olympic functions and industry conferences all over
the world, and being steered carefully through the complex politics of the IOC by Mike Lee’s Vero Communications. “We’ve travelled a lot,” Irarrazaval confirms during a pause between meetings at the SportAccord conference in St Petersburg, “and we’ve tried to show Buenos Aires as a city and tried to explain what Buenos Aires can deliver to the kids that will go there and especially to the youth Olympic movement. This will be the third Games and probably it will be the future of what these Games are about. We think Buenos Aires is a perfect match, being a multicultural, multirace, multi-everything city. We get more than ten million people coming to Buenos Aires each year for different objectives.” While the likes of San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili and, of course, the great Lionel Messi underscore its status as a sporting nation, Argentina, as Irarrazaval himself notes, is currently known more as a “big factory of sportsmen, in
terms of them going out of the country” than as a host of major events itself. Irarrazaval senses an opportunity there, not least since Buenos Aires has come to be regarded internationally as a capital of culture, rather than a capital of sport. “We are a very culturally recognised city and maybe four or five years ago we said, ‘OK, we get the best shows, culture, theatre, music,’ but we were a bit back on the sports,” he says. “We had the 2010 South American Games there and we said, ‘OK, now we build a strategic plan.’” Since then the city has bid for and won the Youth Olympics for 2018, revitalised the annual marathon through its streets to the point where it is now Latin America’s largest, and staged an increasing number of global rugby matches, not least a recent England tour and games in the newly expanded Rugby Championship. An Argentinian bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is also The Destinations Report 2014 | 17
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the training ground
gustin Pichot likens developing a national sports event strategy to a training session and he would know, having played 71 times for Argentina’s national rugby team and captained his country during its most successful period to date. “You go from one stage and then to the other and then to the next one,” he explains. “And then you can go forward. Once you’ve laid the foundations, then you can dream. Argentina is learning and we are learning step by step with the experience of having all these events. This is the exercise we are doing and that’s why we are supporting Buenos Aires, because we feel strongly about this.” Since ending a playing career which saw him lead Argentina to a memorable third place in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Pichot has moved seamlessly into sports administration. He now sits on the board of Argentina’s rugby union, duties which have been dovetailed in recent months with his appointment as an ambassador for Buenos Aires’ 2018 Youth Olympic Games bid.
Argentina’s biggest sporting star, Lionel Messi
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In 2012, Argentina joined what was the Tri Nations, the annual rugby union tournament between New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Pichot believes competing in what is now the Rugby Championship has raised the standard of the national team. Again, he draws parallels with Argentina’s national sports strategy. “Sport today needs the turnover to get better and better, that’s a fact,” he says. “We experienced this with the Rugby Championship. We have four times the turnover we used to have. I’m a board member of the rugby union and what this shows, and it’s not about rugby, is that when you have an event that inspires young generations then the brands and sponsors are there – they want to attack that place and invest. “In Argentina and especially in Buenos Aires, where everything is concentrated, the brands want to go to the core, to communicate with the young consumer, so if you give them the content they will be there. That is why we’re investing. It’s in the works and there has been speculation that the country could host part of the centennial Fifa World Cup in 2030 alongside neighbouring Uruguay, which staged the original tournament in 1930. The natural evolution of a successful Youth Olympic Games, meanwhile, would seem to be a bid for the summer Games proper at some point in the next decade. It is a suggestion from which the affable Irarrazaval does not shy away. “We are building a strategic plan,” he says. “We’ve made lots of investments to upgrade the infrastructure we have so that we could be more attractive and it’s working, but I think the crowning of this will definitely be the organisation of an Olympic Games.” Although at around 40 million its population is barely a quarter that of Brazil, it is clear that the country currently preparing for the summer Olympic Games and next year’s Fifa World Cup offers a glimpse of what could be for Argentina. Irarrazaval believes what is happening over the border will reap benefits for the whole
Agustin pichot is now a sports administrator
not all about the government putting in money, it’s about having the really top [brand] names investing.” of Latin America, his nation included. “Latin America is getting the football World Cup, 2016 is Rio, so this is a new market,” he points out. “We have Messi and the best hockey player in history, Luciana Aymar, and [Juan Martin] Del Potro. That’s because everyone practises sport – there’s nobody who doesn’t practise sport or who doesn’t know about sport. Latin America is a new market and a growing market. Brazil is the sixth economy in the world and this has opened, for the Olympic movement, for Fifa, for everybody, to begin to see Latin America as new markets and I think Buenos Aires will continue that tendency.” With Werthein increasingly prominent in the corridors of Olympic power and a detailed strategy now being executed, no wonder Buenos Aires views the Youth Olympic Games as a starting point in the quest to become sport’s latest major destination. “We’ve been building the steps,” is how Irarrazaval puts it, “and we’re very fit and confident.”
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Destinations report 2014 BIDDING
Welcome to the supercIty By David cushnan For the last three years, through a successfully delivered rugby World cup, Auckland tourism, events and economic Development (AteeD) has been responsible for developing and honing the major events portfolio of New Zealand’s largest city. the results have been more than impressive.
t is 2010 and New Zealand is deep into preparations for the biggest sporting event it has ever staged. The nation’s largest city, Auckland, with a population of some 1.5 million people, is in the midst of preparing to host 15 of the tournament’s 48 matches; it is also going through one of the biggest administrative changes in its history. The amalgamation of eight council bodies into one ‘super council’, and the election of a single city mayor in Len Brown will fundamentally change the way the city operates, not least through the creation of an agency dedicated to delivering the city’s major events strategy. Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) is one of several councilcontrolled organisations formed out of the new administrative structure. “It happened smack bang in the middle of our preparations for Rugby World Cup,”
recalls Rachael Carroll, ATEED’s general manager of destination and marketing. “We had a four and a half year planning process for the Rugby World Cup for 2011 so we had to deal with quite a significant change in all government entities – loss of people, changes in responsibility, realignment of budgets. It was quite a process to go through and to ensure we protected Rugby World Cup through that. Because we had to work together as a region for Rugby World Cup, we’d already established a lot of relationships, processes and ways of working that the transition authority drilled down on to actually inform how they approached the amalgamation of the super city. In that respect you can really see the way that you plan for major events can actually be something you utilise for much broader things.” ATEED brings together the city’s major events planning, the tourism entity,
opposition to public spending on the Volvo ocean race in 2007 has turned to enthusiatic support
20 | www.sportspromedia.com
which was previously known as Tourism Auckland, and economic development. “You’re starting to see around the world and certainly in Australia that many of the tourism and events agencies are starting to merge together, given the synergies and alignment,” Carroll says. “I guess we’ve gone one step forward by bringing that economic development piece in there and I think this really works and is a competitive advantage.” Smaller, regional, community events are generally not part of ATEED’s responsibility, which are instead left to the council itself so as to allow total concentration on events such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the upcoming 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, which New Zealand is staging jointly with Australia, and the Fifa under-20 World Cup 2015. “Our overarching remit is to improve New Zealand’s economic prosperity by leading a successful transformation of Auckland’s economy,” Carroll explains. “That’s largely because for New Zealand to be successful, Auckland must be successful. We have the mayor’s vision guiding us. He’s quite clear that he wants Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. If you want to achieve that you obviously have to have a prosperous economy. We are the sector leader for tourism, we are the leader in major events. We’re really interested in those events which are large-scale, international-facing that deliver our brand to the world, drive visitation and therefore have more of an economic tilt than just perhaps a community, social tilt.”
the amalgamation of Auckland’s council bodies into a ‘super council’ has led to a single events strategy, which has been honed over the past three years
Carroll, who worked in Australia on Melbourne’s 2006 Commonwealth Games, was initially given 100 days to develop Auckland’s major events strategy in 2010, part of the new mayor’s ‘100 projects in 100 days’ policy. “Sometimes a short timeframe, focus and a mandate enables you to get things done really quickly,” she recalls. “It wasn’t paralysis by analysis, we largely knew from research around what had worked in the rest of the world what we needed to achieve around a major events strategy. We took the strategy back to the Auckland council, our governing body, and it resulted in about a six-fold increase in funding. That funding is increasing incrementally year-on-year.” ATEED has the mandate to make decisions on which events to support. Its board is made up of high-profile business people rather than publicly elected officials, which, Carroll says, “enables us to be agile, flexible, responsive and, I believe, to be making the best decisions on the strategy”. She adds: “We went back to Auckland Council and said ‘we think we can grow visitation by x, we think we can generate x amount new GDP year-on-year and you can hold our feet to the fire on those on
We have the mayor’s vision guiding us. he’s quite clear that he wants Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. an annual basis.” ATEED is measured by outcomes such as actual GDP change and year-on-year visitation numbers: pleasingly, Carroll says ATEED says the major events portfolio is now responsible for close to 300,000 visitor nights compared to just 60,000 in 2010. “We’ve been able to demonstrate success at that outcome level and that’s been quite pivotal to how we structure ourselves,” she says. New Zealand, and Auckland, has never seen anything quite like the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Even if the All Blacks had not emerged victorious from the six-week competition, it would have been hard to argue that the tournament had not been a triumph for the host nation. In Auckland’s case, Carroll argues that it was gamechanging: “It came at a time when we had a
big investment going into the redevelopment of the city, an amalgamation of local government – and the whole rationale behind that was basically to get a more regional, strategic approach to the way the city develops longer-term. We had quite fragmented council areas, previously. If you spoke to New Zealanders about Auckland, there was quite some disdain. There was not a great love for a lot of what Auckland was doing and to be honest, as a city, its brand was very much about a smallish city, still with some traffic issues and not really a whole lot of vibrancy. I think Rugby World Cup enabled us to provide a whole lot of focus on to fast-tracking the development of the city. We were very ambitious and aggressive, I’d say, around coming out two years before with a clear statement of a legacy plan to say, The Destinations Report 2014 | 21
Destinations report 2014 BIDDING
AteeD’s rachael carroll believes the “capability of the city has been lifted in the last few years”
‘This event we’re going to invest in to a level never invested in before by New Zealand and this is why we’re investing to that level.’ “One of the things most often neglected is what it did for the pride of Aucklanders and the pride of New Zealanders,” she continues. “It was the first time you really saw New Zealanders talk about Auckland as their big city. Beyond that, it’s put us on the world stage in terms of being a credible city for major events - as well as a great place to visit. That’s one thing that sets Auckland apart from other major event destinations - the 22 | www.sportspromedia.com
city itself offers all the trappings of a worldclass city, but it’s combined with a stunning natural environment. A harbour, numerous islands, and adventure activities are all here in Auckland. The combination of these factors is a real draw-card. “RWC brought in a lot of expertise and leveraged and built the expertise that existed here. Like any of these major events, you do get what they call the event-junkies who go from event to event and what that leaves locally is quite a lift in understanding – not just how to execute major events but how to leverage the full gamut of benefits that can come for that. Coming straight after the amalgamation of the city – one single mayor, one single leadership, a successful Rugby World Cup – it really set a platform and was a catalyst for Auckland’s confidence going forward for the future.” As Auckland prepared for the tournament, throughout 2010 and early 2011, the newly formed ATEED also made sure to look beyond the lifting of the William Webb Ellis trophy and ensure the city’s longer-term diary was as full as possible. “You often hear about these cycles of almost-civic depression that occurs after a major event leaves and we were very conscious about hitting the ground running straight off the back of Rugby World Cup,” Carroll says. “We had already secured the rights to things like the Volvo Ocean Race and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final pre-Rugby World Cup and those occurred in the 2011/12 period, right off the back of it.” The Volvo Ocean Race will return early next year, followed, shortly after, by the cricket and soccer World Cups. ATEED also invested a multi-million dollar sum to assist the return of the V8 Supercars series to the Pukekohe circuit just south of the city in April 2013, which Carroll believes was indicative of Auckland’s growing confidence. “It’s a good example of how the capability of the city has been lifted in the last few years. It has the confidence to take on things that are conceivably risky, although we offset and mitigate that risk through the processes that we have. As well as ramping up our bidding and prospecting capabilities, I’ve been really proud of our feasibility and due diligence capabilities as a council – in any public sector organisation, if you get
things wrong you’re going to know about it. The back-of-house due diligence we put into assessing event opportunities is quite substantial. It’s often what you don’t see but it’s often what makes all the difference.” Carroll explains she has taken much of her lead in Auckland from Melbourne, a city generally agreed to have led the way when it comes to developing and nurturing a major events strategy. “Probably the most significant factor that we learnt from Melbourne and I believe is absolutely implemented here and alive and well is the integration between agencies and the way agencies work together,” she suggests. “Melbourne, first and foremost, has the head of the state government, the head of their council, the head of their major events council, the head of their tourism entity who all work together incredibly well. They’ve got great relationships and that enables them to make decisions very quickly and integrate around these major events. When you think of the challenges of transport, of promotion and marketing, those things have to link together very well to be successful. “The mayor, Len Brown, was very ambitious around the major events strategy. Three days before he started he bounded into my office and said ‘Rachael, I want to be a Melbourne, I want to be an international major events city and I think we can do it’. That was certainly throwing down the gauntlet and quite a challenge, but certainly the mayor saw that events were a way to take us to the world and bring the world to us. That’s something that’s always been core to our strategy.” Confident that parameters such as visitor numbers, the initial priority for the organisation, can be maintained, ATEED is in the process of broadening its ambitions. “We can start to say, ‘Yes, we’re after visitation numbers, but sometimes we might be after building an event that’s true to an Auckland brand and building that over time,’” Carroll explains. “In that event decision we may not be driving visitation in year one, two or three but in year five and six we can. We’re going to become more sophisticated with what we want to achieve out of each event because visitation, GDP are now in place.” Emboldened by the positive results thus
plans for events such as the Itu triathlon World series were made before the 2011 rugby World cup as the city looked to maintain its profile as a major host
far, ATEED has now developed its own, fully-owned event. The Auckland Nines, due to be held for the first time in mid-February, is a two-day knockout tournament, staged at Eden Park, featuring all 16 clubs from Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL). Carroll, speaking a couple of weeks before this year’s debut, reports the event is a sell out. ATEED is investing NZ$9 million over five years, with the tournament locked-in until at least 2018. “That, for us, strategically is a big play into Australia,” Carroll confirms. “Australia is our core visitor market and actually over the last ten years, while numbers have stayed steady, we’ve actually lost market share, until very recently. We needed to become more competitive and reposition Auckland in the minds of Australians and here was a mechanism to do that, to put on an event that really reached into Australia. So far, we think we’re on track to do that.” Due to the way ATEED is structured, and the necessity to report back to the city council on a regular basis, close attention has been paid to the way the economic impact of major events is measured. What Carroll describes as a “very conservative” methodology has been created and honed over three years. Not for Auckland the kind
of inflated figures which can easily be picked apart. “We see many cities saying, ‘We made an investment of a million dollars and we got x million dollars back,’” Carroll says. “We take every bit of contribution from the local economy as the cost of that event, so even the ticket sales to people who live here, local sponsorship all goes into the cost of the event and then we truly realise what money came in from outside Auckland and what the net difference is. It’s brought the numbers right down – some of our events that we were saying were NZ$20 million have come down to US$2 million or NZ$3 million but we can, hand on heart, stand there and say, ‘That two or three million would not be in the economy if not for that event.’ It’s a different approach but the industry globally has copped some flak around multipliers and the public has picked up on that. “I think it’s a consistent role of a government public agency to proactively demonstrate the benefit of events, and in simple language,” she continues, citing the importance of effective public relations and clarity of message. “Articulating the benefits is quite important but we seem to be getting traction.” Carroll remembers the public criticism in 2007 when it was announced that Auckland intended to invest NZ$1.5 million
of public funds in a Volvo Ocean Race stopover. The shift since then – the city’s major newspaper openly praised the NZ$9 million investment in the Auckland Nines last year – has been noticeable. “The views of the public and the media has shifted and Rugby World Cup, that experience, had a part to play in that because people saw what it did for our economy. We’re never going to solve it completely and it’s something we constantly have to turn our attention to, but we’re certainly in a better place than we were previously,” she adds. “At a base level, you’ve got an incredibly safe pair of hands,” Carroll says of Auckland in 2014. “We’ve now got a track record of superb execution and that’s execution that rights-holders want – ticket sales, visibility for commercial partners, all the things that are important to rights-holders. But more than that is that we leverage these events to ensure the city embraces them, so that when an event leaves – did they galvanise a community? Did they fundamentally change and make a city better as a result of it? “We believe that’s our unique selling proposition: if you bring a Rugby World Cup here, it’s not just a Rugby World Cup it’s a phenomenal experience where New Zealanders embrace the event.” The Destinations Report 2014 | 23