LAUSANNE, Switzerland – International Federations (IFs) were given a powerful warning on the imminent effects of climate change on their sports. Emphasis was placed on the critical need for tangible measures to advance environmentally friendly policies, urging IFs to leverage their influence to inspire others towards meaningful change on the last day of the IF Forum 2023, which wrapped up today in Lausanne.
Hundreds of global sports leaders and industry experts gathered at the Olympic Museum for the three-day IF Forum from 13-15 November, spanning several topics under the overall theme of ‘Sport (R)evolution’.
Olympic welcome to Lausanne
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach delivered the IF Forum’s welcome address on Monday, urging unity amongst the IFs and the sport and business community given an increasingly complex international backdrop. Over the course of the three days, delegates heard from senior colleagues and a selection of outside experts on subjects including strategies that which have improved gender equity in sport, examples of how IFs have used technology to grow their audience and revenue as well as the headwinds that are being felt across all sports including supply side squeezes and global instability.
Changing the system – women in sport
Lisa O’Keefe, Secretary General of International Working Group on Women & Sport kicked off the IF Forum as keynote speaker, with a strong statement emphasising that it was imperative “to change the system, not the women” to provide girls and women with equal opportunities and an environment to thrive, on and off the field of play.
“If you are not having uncomfortable conversations, you are not driving change” said Barbara Slater Director of Sport BBC Sport in a panel on the strategies driving growth in women’s sport, which also included Marzena Bogdanowicz, Head of Marketing and Commercial at Women’s Football at the English Football Association, Heike Grösswang, Secretary General at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, and Andreas Zagklis, Secretary General at the International Basketball Federation.
Technology & Sustainability
Christian Mueller, a leading industry expert on new technologies in sport, provided worked examples of the use of technology in boosting sports viewership and participation in a highly engaging session on the second day.
Dr. Reto Knutti, Professor of Climate Physics from ETH Zurich, took on the myth that there exists a dichotomy between economic growth and saving the planet, given the catastrophic consequences of inaction. He emphasised that IFs and sport generally require tangible measures rather than additional written commitments, case studies, and reports. Highlighting the power of sport, especially via its global reach and athlete ambassadors, it was clear that sport bears a responsibility to harness this influence for positive change.
Special Guests – Paris 2024 and Birmingham – West Midlands
Paris 2024 Organising Committee Director General Etienne Thobois and Executive Sports Director Aurélie Merle, only eight months out from the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the French capital next summer, gave an overview of what is to come, with an emphasis on their plans for the sporting and social legacies of the Games.
Delegates of the IF Forum were also given a briefing by the hosts of SportAccord’s next key event – the World Sport and Business Summit – to see what to expect at the global sports industry’s unmissable gathering taking place next year in Birmingham and the West Midlands, UK, from 7-11 April.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, said: “This week’s IF Forum has offered a valuable opportunity to highlight why Birmingham and the West Midlands is at the heart of sport in the UK.
“Our region has a track record of hosting some of the biggest global fixtures at some of sport’s most iconic backdrops. We have demonstrated – thanks to recent events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, The Ashes and the World Trampoline Championships – that the West Midlands consistently delivers sporting spectacles with purpose, passion and impact.
“We can’t wait to host what we believe will be the most memorable and meaningful edition of SportAccord in spring 2024. We look forward to welcoming delegates to our young and diverse region, which is firmly on the up as an international major sporting events destination.”
Prof Dr Uğur Erdener, who was elected unanimously as SportAccord’s new President earlier in the week, said: “This was an excellent edition of the IF Forum, packed full of quality speakers in a dynamic atmosphere that encouraged lots of networking and knowledge-exchange. On behalf of SportAccord, I would like to express sincere thanks to all partners, speakers, delegates and stakeholders who made this event such an outstanding success. Our full focus will now shift to our next important event, the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit 2024, which will take place only three months before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
Marsh, OnePlan, Sport Event Denmark and The International Sports Travel Agencies Association (i.s.t.a.a.) were the Official Partners of the IF Forum 2023, with Lausanne and the Canton of Vaud as Host City Partners.