Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2016 Summer Olympics


Rio de Janeiro is rightfully and proudly celebrating a historic victory: being named the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first South American city to host one of humankind's truly global extravaganzas. If all goes right, it will be a most memorable celebration. Athletes will participate either in or close to world famous icons such as the Maracana soccer stadium, the spiritual home of the "beautiful game," and bodacious Copacabana beach. Some events, like rowing or triathlon, will take place in the shadow of Sugarloaf mountain and the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Ah, but note that conditional: if all goes right. There is much preparation and building to do. And if it all doesn't go right, the Olympic celebration is likely to lead to much recrimination.

Cariocas, as the residents of Rio call themselves, are still reeling from the cost of the last big athletic event held in their city. The budget for the Pan American Games of 2007 was $177 million. It probably cost several times that at the end (some reports estimate it at close to $2 billion). For the biggest athletic event of all, the Rio Olympic organizing committee has set its budget at $2.82 billion, with another $11.1 billion going to related expenses such as transport, power and security. (Another $170 million has been set aside for the Paralympic Games which usually follow right after the Olympics.)

There are eight existing venues that need to be renovated in time for the Games, including the João Havelange Stadium where the track and field events will take place. Three of the venues are new, built for the Pan Am Games; however, they do not meet the IOC's size or technical standards. The velodrome for track cycling, the aquatics center for diving and water polo and the João Havelange Stadium all need extensive work. The existing sites for archery, sailing, rowing, equestrian, shooting, kayak and rowing, as well as the route of the marathon also need work. All told $200 million has been set aside for upgrades.

Meanwhile, another 11 permanent venues costing an estimated $674 million are to be constructed for basketball, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, handball, modern pentathlon, fencing, tennis, swimming and synchronized swimming, canoe and kayak slaloms, and BMX cycling. Then, at least $78 million will be spent on seven temporary structures for beach volleyball, triathlon, marathon swimming, race walking, road cycling, weightlifting, hockey, mountain biking and modern pentathlon. Rio has promised to spend $427 million on an athlete's village that replicates "the outdoor lifestyle of Rio's beachside neighborhoods" (and no doubt swings to the sounds of samba and bossa nova). And, if that isn't enough of a taste of Brazil, a dedicated shuttle bus will take athletes to a beach set aside exclusively for participants.

As if that isn't enough to deal with, two very large issues are tourist lodgings and security. Rio lacks hotel rooms, and although it has promised to increase the number available before 2016, some of the promised beds are on private cruise ships, a situation that worried the IOC enough to question the strategy's reliability and accountability. Another issue is street violence. The games committee lauded what they called Rio's "increased public safety and reductions in crime." But the number of homicides in the city is rising again and is up 9.9% so far this year. Officials would likely flood the city with troops and police as they did for the Pan Am Games in 2007. But such a military presence will weigh down any party atmosphere. Safety remains a troubling issue.

Nevertheless winning the Games is a huge boost for Rio. The decision promises to transform a city that has fallen into disrepair and has been looking for a purpose since losing its capital city status in 1960 to the modernist built-to-order jungle metropolis of Brasilia. The massive investment will rejuvenate it. In fact, organizers and government administrators believe that every Brazilian real spent on the Games will generate three in profit.

The entire Olympic bid has been extremely popular: one study showed 85% of Cariocas and 69% of Brazilians supported the city's candidacy. Indeed, Cariocas consider the 2007 Pan American Games a big success, but they do so by overlooking the costs and organizational snafus. To secure the Pan Ams, Rio promised to transform the city with a new ring road system, a "via light" highway, a new state highway and 54 km of new metro line. Guanabara Bay, the fetid body of water whose smell assails visitors driving into town from the international airport, was to be cleaned up. None of those plans came to fruition, prompting the current mayor, and former state Sports Secretary, to admit that the city promised too much and provided too little.

The Brazilian government may have to step in to help out. How it will do so will be clearer in the next two years as the country prepares for the 2014 World Cup. So far, the indications are not great. The country was awarded soccer's big championship almost two years ago, but work has yet to start on the 12 stadiums needed for that spectacle. Meanwhile, a much-talked about bullet train linking São Paulo and Rio is yet to leave the drawing board. Many officials now doubt whether it will be ready in time for the World Cup. Brazil and Rio can party now and celebrate. But then it's time to roll up sleeves. There's a ton of work to do if they want to throw an even bigger party in 2016.

Source: Time
Posted by Benny Hakak at 1:12 PM 0 comments
Labels: Brazil, Events, IOC, Olympics, South America
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Close race to host 2016 Olympics nears finish

LONDON — Close your eyes and imagine the possible scenarios in 2016.
Olympic athletes strolling to competition venues along Chicago's lakefront. Volleyball players diving on the sand of Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach. Cyclists whizzing past Tokyo's Imperial Palace. Soccer players curling free kicks in Madrid's Bernabeu stadium.

After a two-year global campaign featuring four world-class cities, one of the closest bid races in Olympic history will be decided next Friday in a vote of the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen.

Although IOC votes -- by secret ballot over several rounds -- can be highly unpredictable, Rio and Chicago look to be the main contenders.

At stake is international prestige, billions of dollars in potential investment and economic spinoffs, and the honor of staging the world's biggest sports extravaganza.

The decision may come down to two key issues: Will President Barack Obama go to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago's case in person? Is the IOC ready to take a bit of a gamble on Rio and send the Olympics to South America for the first time?

"I expect a vote difference of a couple of votes only," IOC president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "There is no favorite. There is no bid that is lagging behind. All the scenarios are possible."

Technical issues, emotion, sentiment, geography, politics, self-interest and other intangibles all play a role in IOC votes.

In this race, Rio -- besides its iconic beaches and stunning backdrop -- has the strongest emotional pull of the four candidates: The Olympics have never been held in South America and the time has come to try something new.

"For others it would be just another Olympics, but for Brazil it would be something to raise the self esteem of the people," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said this week. "No other city needs to host an Olympics. Brazil needs it. ... Do only rich countries have the right to host the Olympics?"

With Africa the only other continent that hasn't staged an Olympics, Rio's argument has resonated with many IOC members who espouse the "universality" of the games and like to make a geopolitical statement by taking the event to new territories.

"There is sympathy of course for Rio because the games have never been in South America," IOC executive board member Denis Oswald said. "In principle, yes, it would be nice for the universality of the games that we go to a new continent that has never organized games, but only if we are confident that all the technical and other requirements are met."

Rio has bid before, but failed to make the list of finalists for the 2004 and 2012 Olympics. Another South American city -- Buenos Aires, Argentina -- fell short in the vote for 2004, as did a bid from Cape Town, South Africa.

But this time, Rio has made a convincing case for taking the Olympics to a new frontier.

"I'd say for the first time, it's a realistic choice," senior Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said. "We had Cape Town and we've had Brazil and Buenos Aires before. They were there as sort of signals that someday it would be possible. Now you have a real choice. Whether they're prepared to do it is another question.

"You try to pick the least risky place recognizing that they all have some element of risk," he said.

Chicago is bidding to bring the Summer Games back to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta in 1996. The bid, which would bring the games back to the Olympics' most lucrative market for sponsorships and television rights, is centered on a compact plan putting most athletes within 15 minutes of their venues along picturesque Lake Michigan.

Chicago's hopes could ultimately depend on whether Obama goes to Copenhagen for the vote. Tony Blair, then Britain's prime minister, was instrumental in London's victory when he traveled to Singapore in 2005; and Vladimir Putin helped Sochi get the 2014 Winter Games when he went to Guatemala City in 2007.

Silva and King Juan Carlos of Spain and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez will be in Copenhagen. Tokyo is urging new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to attend, though he hasn't decided yet.

Obama -- who calls Chicago home -- contacted Rogge on Sept. 11 to inform him he wouldn't be traveling to Denmark because of his commitment to reforming American health care, and was sending first lady Michelle Obama and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

However, the White House sent an advance team to Copenhagen this week to make preparations in case the president decides to join his wife at the last minute -- possibly arriving and departing on the day of the vote.

"If he can be persuaded to go, I think it makes a huge difference," Pound said. "He's a transformational figure in the world today."

Obama has sent a letter to IOC members saying the Olympics would be an "extraordinary opportunity for America to renew our bonds of friendship and welcome the world to our shores with open arms."

Chicago overcame one of its biggest hurdles when the city council approved all financial guarantees for the games, clearing the way for Mayor Richard M. Daley to sign the host city contract if Chicago wins. That was a major step for a U.S. bid city, which -- unlike rival candidates -- can't rely on federal government financial backing.

Yet the Chicago bid could still be affected by lingering anti-U.S. sentiment in the European-dominated IOC and resentment over contentious issues with the U.S. Olympic Committee, including the American body's share of Olympic revenues and plans -- now on hold -- for its own Olympic television network.

British bookmakers list Chicago as an odds-on favorite, followed by Rio, Tokyo and Madrid.

But Rio seemed to pick up the unofficial front-runner's tag in June when the bid cities made presentations to IOC members in a specially arranged meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Rio officials made a splash by unveiling a big world map with dots showing where all the Olympics have been held -- and an empty space for South America.

Brazil also claims it is a growing financial power that has been less affected by the global downturn than the other bid countries. It also cites the experience of hosting the 2007 Pan American Games and Brazil's selection as host of the 2014 World Cup, an event which could help prepare infrastructure for the Olympics two years later.

Geography often plays a big role, though the IOC has no official policy of geographical rotation of the games.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, offers a first-class technical bid and claims it is the safest bet at a time of financial uncertainty and already has $4 billion in the bank for the games. Yet, there is a sense among some IOC members that it would be soon to go back to Asia after last year's stunning Beijing Olympics.

Madrid, which is bidding for a second straight time after a failed attempt for the 2012 Games, also has a strong candidacy with 77 percent of venues already in place. However, it must contend with a reluctance to return to Europe after London in 2012 and Sochi in 2014.

"Although there is no geographical rotation, I think there is a feeling that the games might go west," British IOC member Craig Reedie said. "In which case, you have a choice of two Western Hemisphere cities (Chicago and Rio). The emotional argument is with Rio with regards to the games having never been in South America before."

The result could also hinge on the vagaries of the IOC voting system. Ninety-nine of the IOC's 106 members are eligible to vote in the first round (members from countries with bid cities can't vote while their candidate is still in contention).

The city receiving the fewest votes is eliminated after each round until one candidate secures a majority. The vote is expected to go the maximum three rounds.

Some members tend to vote out of sympathy in the first round, which can produce some surprises. The key to victory is picking up votes from the cities which go out.

If Tokyo were to go out in the first round, it is believed many of its votes would go to Chicago. If Madrid goes out, the consensus is they would go to Rio.

"The real issue for all four cities is to make sure that as far as they can their committed friends vote for them right from round one," Reedie said. "There is danger to all four cities in the first round. After that I'm afraid I have no idea where people might go."

The final 45-minute presentations -- featuring speeches and videos -- also have a role. The consensus is a city doesn't win because of a good presentation, but could lose because of a bad one.

For the first time, there are no IOC executive board meetings in the days leading up to the vote. That means there will be much less opportunity for lobbying and schmoozing. Most IOC members won't be arriving until the day before the vote.

Each city will be bringing celebrity supporters to Copenhagen, including Pele for Brazil and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey for Chicago.

In the end, Rogge said, it will all come down to which bid organizers the members trust most.

"Everything being equal between the four candidates," he said, "I think it's the human factor that will be most important."

Source: USA Today
Posted by Benny Hakak at 7:35 PM 0 comments
Labels: Asia, Brazil, Europe, Events, IOC, Olympics, South America, USA
Thursday, September 10, 2009
New ATP CEO planning All-Star event
NEW YORK — Andy Roddick vs. Roger Federer in a serving speed contest? How about Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray in a timed race to chase down drop shots?

Those are the kind of matchups that could be featured at an All-Star showcase the head of the men's tennis tour is introducing next year as part of his efforts to help boost the sport's popularity.

"We're looking at it as a way to extend our reach, to reach more casual sports fans and tennis fans," Adam Helfant told The Associated Press on Tuesday in his first one-on-one interview since becoming the ATP's chief executive in January.

"It seems to work in other sports. We'll see if it works here. Our players think it will work."

The idea is to have a one- or two-day event in March, during the week before the hard-court tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., including a skills competition, pro-am celebrity doubles matches and an awards show. There have been preliminary talks about a TV deal.

Not interested in making any immediate changes to the game itself — no on-court coaching, the way the WTA tour allows, for example — Helfant is more concerned at the moment with off-court promotion and marketing.

He would, for example, like to generate more buzz at the beginning of the season, saying that's something other sports manage to do better than tennis. He's not sure whether anything can be put in place by the start of 2010, but he wants fans paying more attention in the days leading to the Australian Open each January.

Helfant, who grew up in New York, has an engineering degree from MIT and a law degree from Harvard. He worked for the NHL and in global marketing for Nike — getting to know tennis players such as Federer and Maria Sharapova while negotiating their endorsement contracts — before being hired by the ATP.

Touching on various topics, Helfant said he does not consider doping or match-fixing a "significant problem" for tennis. He also noted there are "some very serious conversations with a number of interested parties" that could result in a long-term deal with a new major sponsor beginning in 2010.

Mercedes-Benz ended its sponsorship of the ATP tour when its contract expired in 2008. The carmaker had been one of the tour's main global sponsors since 1996.

"We understand that we have a hole in terms of not having a tour-wide sponsor," Helfant said. "We have not replaced Mercedes yet. At the beginning of the year, it was very difficult to even get meetings. Companies and industries are hurting, and the tour isn't immune to that."

Source: The Associated Press
Posted by Benny Hakak at 6:51 PM 0 comments
Labels: ATP, Events, Tennis, USA
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Rio's 2016 Olympic Bid Continues To Gain Momentum at a Critical Time
Based on findings in the International Olympic Committee’s technical evaluation report of the 2016 Olympic bid cities, Rio de Janeiro has a lot to be excited about. All four candidates received generally favorable evaluations in the report released Wednesday, but the language used in Rio's summary seemed to favor its bid - if only by a small margin.

Speaking to from London, President of Rio 2016 Carlos Nuzman found it difficult to contain his excitement.

“It is fair to say that Rio has a very positive report and possibly the most favorable of all”, Nuzman said boldly.

“The IOC report is a real boost to the Rio bid.”

While the IOC did point out some weaknesses in Rio's plans - they followed each of these points with a benefit. Referring to a potential conflict in preparations between Brazil’s 2014 FIFA World Cup and a 2016 Olympic Games, Rio 2016 Secretary General Carlos Osorio picked up on the spin.

“Our communication plans take into consideration that the World Cup is going to be there. We think that both events can work very well together; there’s a big synergy between both of them and we don't see any challenges just advantages and synergies in having the World Cup” Osorio explained to

“And quite frankly if you notice that the United States, Japan and Spain are also bidding for the 2018 World Cup you can see that everybody thinks that's a great idea to have both events with two years apart; but only Brazil has got the World Cup already and most importantly before the Olympic Games.”

Rio was a questionable addition to the candidate list last year after it stood fifth in an initial IOC evaluation report. In fact Rio trailed behind Doha, Qatar - a city that was eliminated from the bid. Rio failed to make the same cut when they bid for the 2012 games.

However, Brazil's bid has been steadily gaining momentum over the past year. Presentations in Denver and Lausanne this year drew rare applause from IOC members and it was clear that Rio had become a sentimental favorite based on the bid’s desire to host the Games in South America for the very first time.

Now with only a month to go, the evaluation report is concrete evidence that Rio is a bid to beat.

Posted by Benny Hakak at 12:47 AM 0 comments
Labels: Brazil, IOC, Olympics, South America
Friday, August 14, 2009
X-Games might land in Montreal in 2010
MONTREAL – Montreal tourism officials and promoters of the X-Games are continuing efforts to bring the event to Montreal next year.

But a major obstacle so far is finding a major sponsor willing to invest well over half a million dollars for the highest level of visibility.

Still, X-Games managing director Rick Alessandri said he is hopeful the event can be held in Montreal in the fall of 2010 and a formal announcement could be made by next month.

“Our discussions with city officials have been very promising,” Alessandri said from New York City. “We think Montreal would be a great market for an X-Games event.”

The target date would be “late summer next year.”

The X-Games focus on extreme action sports in both winter and summer versions. The Summer X Games were held in Los Angeles this year. The events featured include skateboarding and freestyle Motocross, with concurrent live music, and interactive elements. Events are televised on ESPN and ABC.

Alessandri declined to identify which officials he had been talking to. Tourism Montreal officials were not available to comment.

Attracting local sponsorship is the main hurdle, Alessandri said.

“These events cost multimillion dollars to bring to a community,” he noted.

The highest level of sales and sponsorship packages cost from “high six figures” to less for associate deals.

Additional revenue would come from any TV deals, which also have to be arranged.

The city of Montreal believes the X-Games would be “a welcome event - it’s hugely popular,” but is not directly involved in this privately sponsored event, city spokesperson Darren Becker said.

Source: The Montreal Gazette
Posted by Benny Hakak at 12:50 AM 0 comments
Labels: Canada, Events, Extreme Sports
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Tourism Ministry of India goes sporty to woo foreign tourists
Known more for the monuments, heritage and culture, India is not one of the foremost destinations as far as sports tourism is concerned. In a bid to explore this aspect and take the Incredible India campaign a step further, the Ministry of Tourism had given its nod to European sports channel Eurosport in June 2009 to shoot a special show, ‘Sports Trip’, in India.

‘Sports Trip’ is a globetrotting format looking at local sports and sporting hot-spots around the world. Following the Ministry nod, Eurosport had sent a crew to India to produce a programme on sports and Indian culture. The total production related cost has been pegged at around $200,000, whereas the air time is around $680,000.

Mediascope Publicitas, one of India’s largest international media representation houses and also one of the largest custom media specialists in the country, is the exclusive media sales partners to Eurosport in India. Mediascope Publicitas is said to have had introduced the medium to the Ministry of Tourism and convinced them on the need to use the appeal of sports in Europe to Incredible India’s advantage. The company is also said to have convinced Eurosport to invest in the Incredible India partnership.

The objective

In an email interaction, Marzban Patel, CEO, Mediascope Publicitas India, said, “The purpose is to highlight sports tourism opportunities in India. This initiative will go a long way in exposing India to the European nations, enticing millions to visit, participate and indulge in different experiences. This is a first effort for India by Eurosport and is in support of a focused communication programme initiated by the Ministry of Tourism. It is an attempt to expose India’s varied tourism facilities other than cultural, heritage, medical to a European audience through the European sports channel. We are very pleased with the results and are currently in dialogue with other Indian companies to take advantage of the power of the medium, both TV and digital.”

India as a sports tourism destination

How has this initiative helped attract tourists to the country? Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, explained, “The tourism industry stakeholders were quick to make use of our marketing initiatives and have been promoting sports tourism. The tour operators had also been organising Golf Tours, etc. We hope the interest in diving and traditional sports will also grow with the show ‘Sports Trip’ going on air. Besides this, the Ministry of Tourism has also produced television commercials on Skiing in Gulmarg (Kashmir) and diving in the Andaman Islands. We have also been showcasing rural sports. In terms of the immediate inflow of tourists, it is too early to know that as the show has just gone on air. However, we hope that this show will position India as a sports tourism destination.”

Role of sports marketing

On the role of sports/sports marketing in driving tourism, Nandan explained, “India may not be seen as a sports tourism market in a purist sense as compared to America. But it is a country where promotions are in huge demand. They could be sports-led or entertainment-led. I am using the term promotions in a broad sense, which means selling your product, enhancing visibility. In India, companies see buying a banner as just that, when it is much more. It represents visibility. Sport engages people like no other genre. There is an emotional intensity and high level of focus while involved with sports. It maintains people’s attention and allows them to escape into another world. Hence, it can be used as a medium to attract travelers who are on the lookout to escape, relax and enjoy adventure.”

‘Sport Trip’ is a five-edition series telecast on Eurosport, which takes an in-depth look at some of India’s sports in the most treasured unknown areas. It covers not just cricket, but has brought to viewers golf in Delhi, yoga, martial arts, etc. All these shows have already been aired, for instance, Cricket on May 30, Golf on June 6, Diving on June 13, Kalariyapattu (a martial arts form from Kerala) on June 20, and Yoga on June 27. The series, which started airing on EuroSports from early June 2009 during the evening primetime slot on Saturdays, will continue till July 2009.

Source: exchange4media
Posted by Benny Hakak at 5:16 PM 0 comments
Labels: Asia, Marketing, Travel
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* ▼ 2009 (28)
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