Peter Bayer, Innsbruck 2012 CEO. (ATR)
(ATR) The Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games organizing committee is now moving into operational mode, the Games president tells Around the Rings
in this Q&A.
Speaking to ATR
after the IOC Coordination Commission inspection of the Games, Peter Bayer, Innsbruck 2012 CEO says the IOC approved of the progress made since the last commission visit.
He says the organizing committee has shifted gears and is planning how to deliver the innaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games, set to take place Jan. 13 – 22 in 2012.
It will also go down in Olympic history as featuring the Olympic debut of women's ski jumping.
Innsbruck was selected as host city in 2008.
The will not be the first time the Olympic Flame will go to Innsbruck. The city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1972.
Around the Rings:What did you talk about, what did the IOC tell you? Who participated from Austria?
What we did was since the last six months mainly the last coordination commission we just ended our strategic planning and now we’re in operational planning for the Games. We presented where we are at and the level of service we’re ready to provide to the athletes and the Olympic Family when they come to Innsbruck. Basically to put it in a nutshell, they were really happy and impressed by the work we did. Gian-Franco Kasper [Coordination Commission chairman] was really impressed by the amount of work which has been done by our team and that makes us very happy and confident. As Gian-Franco said if we continue like this he is convinced we will have fantastic Games in 2012.
We are really happy with what we heard from the IOC and the whole team put a lot of effort and a lot of hours into the presentation and showing the IOC what we can do as a small team. I think we will be continuing on this path. We’re a young team we want to stay young and we keep feeding all these new ideas into the IOC and I think they like the refreshing spirit we share and that’s one thing we want to continue.
ATR: Who participated from Austria?
We had the IOC coordination commission plus I think 15 people from the IOC administration from all the different departments. And then on our side we had the Organizing Committee and the Austrian Olympic Committee there which is a very good partner of us and we do work very close and so there was president Karl Stoss and secretary general [Peter Mennel]. We are quite a small team in the office but we do have loads of partners in governmental agencies or private agencies who work with us and all these people have been involved and did their part of the presentation. We proved even though we are a small team we have vast know how through these partners which work with us and we integrate into the Organizing Committee.
ATR: What are the big tasks left for the Organizing Committee? How is work on the village coming?
The village particularly was praised by the Coordination Commission. Pernilla Wiberg, Vladimir Khotochkine, Janko Dvorsak made a
The Youth Olympic Village was the only venue for the Games that needed to be built. (Innsbruck 2012)
personal visit to the village. And they were impressed actually by the amount of work that has been done there especially since some of the apartments are already ready. So they could see on which level the athletes will actually live during Games time. Its very spacious rooms and its very high standards and we are two months ahead of schedule which means will be ready in September 2011. That was one of the big steps forward we could show.
ATR: Did either you or the IOC express any concerns about anything?
Not so far nothing specifically. I mentioned a concern to the IOC that we are, since this is a very new product, we are trying to sell it to sponsors and sponsors have to learn about what are the Youth Olympic Games. And Singapore helped a lot by being able to show that’s what happened in Singapore, an impressive number of people watched Singapore all over the world on TV. We made some major progress and we think we have very realistic targets now for sponsoring, and that’s something we discussed in detail because you need some financial support from sponsors that’s the hard part, getting sponsors on board. Where we do get progress is with the IOC TOP Sponsors. Since we are in my eyes behind schedule in signing top partners in Austria we are making great progress with TOP Sponsors.
ATR: What is your target for sponsorships?
Basically what we want to do is have quite a small number of national premium national sponsors which today we foresee as two or four maximum, and on the tier two level we are aiming at four to six partners and of course a lot of regional partners which will be between six and eight. In terms of numbers that’s what we are aiming at, in terms of the budget we are looking at reaching 1.5 million Euros in sponsoring.
ATR:You’ve had time to reflect on Singapore, did your experience lead you to change any of your plans?
Basically for us there were two really important learnings from Singapore. One was the CEP program we’ve seen there are certain programs that are very much appreciated by the athletes, and that’s really what we could copy and adapt to the regional situation in Austria. That was one of the biggest learnings is that the CEP works and the vision of the IOC and Rogge became living reality in Singapore and we’ve seen the incredible atmosphere at the Village and the fascination which we could experience in Culture and Education Program. The second big learning the execution of the sports events, which we were not sure on which level we should balance ourselves since we do have a lot of experience in top events in and around Innsbruck. So for us it was to find the balance between what our people, the sports clubs and people supporting us are used to deliver us and what we think makes sense for the Youth Olympic Games which is basically the level of junior world championships.
ATR: Will you do anything new or different for the Culture and Education Program?
There will be some new elements. One for example which we got very positive feedback from the IOC is the so called media lab. From our side, we want to offer under the guidance of professionals, digital media training. This goes from producing video to then uploading videos on the web to a radio station which will be taken care of by athletes and local kids here. We really want to put an effort in this to have content from the kids for the kids, and of course we want to evolve that content into our official communications. Then we have things from Singapore we want to evolve. We have seen. Since obviously we have a totally different environmental situation her with the mountains with the Alps we want to show the kids from all over the world how we live and how we take care of nature here we want to make them aware there is a certain responsibility to keep this nature for future generations and make sure everyone knows they can change the world.
ATR: Have you made any changes to the number of athletes competing?
No that number is 1058 that’s still the same. What’s great for us is besides the CEP program the sports schedule was approved by the IOC so we basically have a schedule on which we can now rely on so that was definitely a great step forward for us as well.
ATR: When is the next Coordination Commission visit?
The next coordination commission is planned for September.
ATR: Are there any big plans for the one year to go celebrations?
Since we do run on a totally different budget than Singapore and of course and Olympic Games, of course we will have a celebration on the 13th of January. We will unveil the countdown clock we will have a big media reception and really present our plans to the nation wide media and give them a first hand insight on what we’re doing and its really the kickoff of our national communication plan.
ATR: What’s next for Innsbruck, is there anything else we should be looking for in the future?
Something which is worthwhile mentioning, we will now put strong efforts into marketing and sponsoring and move ahead and sign national sponsors further agree on cooperation with TOP sponsors. Operationally our next big step forward is integrated planning. To bring every thing we’ve planned in the different functional areas so that all the teams in the different departments work on the same level. That will be done in the coming weeks and months. Also what we will do is two weeks after one year to go festival we will organize a big winter sports festival in downtown Innsbruck. We will invite all the kids from Austria and we will have a little bob track where you can try to start the bobsled. We’ll have a little ski and snowboard ramp, we’ll have a biathlon course. It should be a hands on experience for the kids and we really want to put that as one of our main targets, is obviously to involved the youth and show them the quality of life with sports. Definitely that will be one of the next big things for us.
Interviewed by Ed Hula III.
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