Under the conference theme of ‘Investing in Events’, speakers at the inaugural Host City Americas digital conference voiced great optimism about the future of the events industry, offering ideas and solutions to the challenges of the pandemic, digitalisation and sustainability. Host City is the event and media brand that connects the owners, hosts and organisers of major events.
A global audience, including IOC members, FIFA, sports ministers and leaders of event organising committees and international federations, united for the first meeting of cities and sports, business and cultural events for the Americas on 29-30 June.
The conference opened with a keynote address from IOC vice-president Anita DeFrantz. Speaking of a world ravaged by the coronavirus, she said the sports industry was forced “to examine everything” as events took a financial hit.
Three weeks before the postponed Tokyo Olympics get underway, she said the execution of Games planning for event organisers and athletes had been hugely challenging against the backdrop of the pandemic.
DeFrantz foresaw similar issues with Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. “The good news is we will have the experience of Tokyo to make certain things go well,” she told delegates.
Professor Uğur Erdener, head of World Archery and chair of the IOC’s Medical and Scientific Commission, said the global vaccination programme led him to believe “we are approaching the exit of the dark tunnel”.
Gabriela Ramos, assistant director general of UNESCO, said it was vital for sport to be part of policies to help countries, cities and communities emerge from the pandemic.
David Siegel, president and CEO of Los Angeles Sports Council, pointed out that with more professional sports teams than any city in world, and the Olympics, Superbowl, FIFA World Cup and MLB’s 2022 All-Star Game on the horizon, Los Angeles is “uniquely positioned to capitalise on this”.
Brian Sullivan, CEO of NEP Group, said technology had to catch up with changing consumer desires and trends. “It’s a very exciting time. There’s a huge amount of innovation coming in the next 5-10 years. The lesson is ‘try to reinvent yourself before you need to’,” Sullivan said.
In his closing remarks, conference director Ben Avison said: “According to our audience polls, all the changes we’ve been discussing here over the last two days are having a positive impact on live events.”
Photo: Clockwise from top left: Ed Hula, editor and founder, Around the Rings; Anita DeFrantz, vice-president, International Olympic Committee; Al Kidd, CEO & president, Sports Events & Tourism Association; Ingmar De Vos, president, International Equestrian Federation (FEI); IOC Member Prof Uğur Erdener, president, NOC of Turkey; president, World Archery; IOC Member Gabriela Ramos, assistant director-deneral, UNESCO