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  • Tuesday Talk -- SportEvent Denmark CEO on Being Small, Thinking Big


    SportEvent Denmark CEO Lars Lundov. (ATR)
    The Tuesday Talk Is Presented by
    Helios Partners

    (ATR) SportEvent Denmark CEO Lars Lundov tells Around the Rings his country is too small to host the Olympics or FIFA World Cup but can handle just about anything else.

    Lundov spoke to ATR as he and his Danish colleagues keep busy bidding for the badminton worlds in 2013 or 2014, the IAAF half-marathon world championship in 2014, the FIG trampoline championship in 2015, the IIHF world champs in 2016 and the men’s handball worlds in 2017.

    Read on for his take on why Denmark places such an importance on hosting elite sport, why international federations keep choosing Denmark for their events and why the country cannot realistically host the World Cup or Olympic Games.
    Around the Rings: Why is Denmark paying so much attention to attracting top sporting events?

    Lars Lindov: That’s a very good question. I have several reasons for that. How much do you know about SportEvent Denmark?

    ATR: My understanding is that it’s basically an organization charged with helping Denmark win hosting rights to elite sporting events.

    LL: That’s right, that’s right.

    We are established by the Danish government and the Danish sports community as well, for example the NOC of Denmark.

    The reason could be that we believe that major sport events taking place in Denmark will put Denmark on the world map through the international and media coverage.

    We also believe that major events taking place in Denmark will increase the international tourism turnover in Denmark. We believe that they will create national and local pride, and also the events give the Danish population the opportunity to watch great events live on our homeground.

    Further, the events in many cases increase the scope of international networking within the sports world.

    And finally, the Danish sports federations could use those events to increase their skills and sport performance.

    ATR: What makes sporting events want to come to Denmark?

    LL: First of all, I think you can get the right answer if you ask the international federations, but in our opinion we believe that we have a good model in Denmark because we have very strong public support in terms of finance and other support from both the government and also the regional government and the cities as well.

    Our model in Denmark is based on what we call the event triangle. Try to imagine that you have a triangle, and you have the Danish sports federations as one of the three parties, you have the host city as another party and then you have SportEvent Denmark as the third party, and right in the middle of this triangle you have the international event and its rights owner.

    In our opinion, this strong collaboration from the very beginning through the bidding process through the event staging is very important for the rights owner because it makes the rights owner more safe about how we go into planning and organizing the event because in some cases the national sports federations know a lot about the sports competition but they don’t necessarily know a lot about marketing, for example.

    Esbjerg was Denmark's host city of choice for March's women's curling world championships. (Getty Images)
    ATR: Does a Danish bid for a sporting event have to go through SportEvent Denmark?

    LL: No, the Danish sports federations do not need to go through SportEvent Denmark, but I think almost 95 percent of the Danish bids for sporting events do because some bid processes need a lot of money for the campaign and so on and then we take a very active role in financing the campaign, and we also have a lot of experience in how to run a campaign and so on.

    I think perhaps more or less 100 percent of all our bids are done by SportEvent Denmark together with the federations and together with the host city.

    ATR: What makes sporting events in Denmark a success?

    LL: A lot of things, from the basic stuff - for example, hotels, transportation solutions, the venue and so on - to some more innovative and creative solutions we are trying to implement in the events.

    Just an example, we have a lot of sailing events taking place in Denmark, and in some of those sailing events we are using GPS technology, enabling the spectators placed in the harbor to follow the race faraway at the sea.

    We are also very active in terms of using new media, social media, Facebook, Twitter, live streaming and so on.
    ATR: Which events is Denmark currently bidding for?

    LL: For the time being, we are bidding for badminton worlds in 2013 or 2014, the IAAF half-marathon world championships in 2014, the FIG trampoline championship in 2015, the IIHF world champs in 2016 and the men’s handball worlds in 2017.

    And of course, some other events and world cups, etc. in different sports.

    ATR: How do you avoid making Copenhagen your bid city for every major sporting event given that it's by far the country's best-known city internationally?
    Lundov says the 2009 IOC Session in Copenhagen is one of SportEvent Denmark's biggest successes to date. Pictured are Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey speaking on behalf of Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. (Getty Images)

    LL: Of course, I do agree with you that Copenhagen is for sure the most famous city we have in Denmark, but we also have some other cities who are very active in terms of attracting international sports events. And in some cases, those other cities perhaps can do it better because they have the right facility. Perhaps the sport fits better into their program, into their strategy and so on.

    In Denmark, we have a very good relationship between those cities because some years ago, we established a kind of informal alliance with a number of those cities, and in some cases those cities are competing against each other but in many cases it won’t be a problem.

    So in some cases, Copenhagen will be the right choice and in other cases, another city in Denmark will be the right choice. And if you look back and if you look in the future, you can see that many of the events will take place not in Copenhagen but in other cities.

    ATR: Is the 2009 IOC Session SportEvent Denmark’s biggest victory to date?

    LL: Of course, in terms of a sports meeting, it is for sure. I think it’s always difficult to compare a meeting with a world championship, for example.

    For example, this year we have the UCI world road cycling championships, a quite big one. But in terms of media coverage and also in terms of the number of foreign visitors, the IOC Session and Olympic Congress for sure was the biggest one to date.

    ATR: How big of an event can Denmark host?

    LL: We are a small country. We only have 5.5 million inhabitants, so to be realistic, we are too small for the Olympics and we are also too small for the FIFA World Cup, but the event level just below the Olympics and just below the FIFA World Cup and also below the IAAF world championships because we don’t have the facilities.

    All the other events below that level I think we can manage.
    Denmark is actually a collection of 407 small islands, only 79 of which are inhabited.

    ATR: What would be SportEvent Denmark’s dream success? The ice hockey world champs? The basketball world champs?

    LL: Hockey, for sure. I don’t think the basketball for the time being because we have to develop the Danish basketball sports performance level. We’re not in the A group for the time being.

    ATR: So would you say the hockey champs?

    LL: The hockey champs could be fine. Also, as you know, handball is very popular in Denmark, so the world handball for men would be fine. Swimming short-course could also be great.

    Written by Matthew Grayson.

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