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  • Debbie Jevans: "It's Mad" to Sideline Issue of Gender Equity in Sport


    (ATR) Former London 2012 director of sport, Debbie Jevans, tells Around the Rings that Olympic leaders can do more to promote gender equity in sport.

    Debbie Jevans (Getty)
    "It's mad not to," Jevans told ATR on the sidelines of the 2015 Host Cities Summit in Dubai.

    She added, "Change hasn't necessarily happened as fast as I would like.

    "I've spoken out against quotas, but then I've also maybe slightly contradicted myself by saying sometimes you do need a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. 

    "The reason I've not been in favor of quotas is the fact that it allows a box-ticking exercise and that isn't always helpful.

    "That doesn't work because what you haven't done is necessarily change the culture of that organization."

    Also former CEO of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Jevans added that she thinks leaders within the Olympic Movement should "actively encourage" women to apply for administrative positions.

    Jevans was CEO of Rugby World Cup 2015. (Getty)
    "I have found, when I've done that, there have been some amazingly talented women that have been there."

    Jevans participated in a panel discussion this week at Host Cities 2015. The panel focused on the ever-changing face of sport in entertainment. 

    Sports presentation on TV, Jevans explained to ATR, concerns much more than just competition and medal ceremonies.

    "It's the sort of commentary you have, it's what you show on the screens, it's what music you play," Jevans said. 

    "It's about using technology to engage the fan, get the spectator involved." 

    The Host Cities Summit gathers an international delegation of current and future host cities and the heads of leading sport bodies each year to discuss "effective strategies for winning and hosting major sporting events."

    Dubai hosted the 2015 Host Cities Summit. (Getty)
    Panel debates, case studies, round tables and workshops focus on ways an event like the Olympics can leave a positive economic and social impact on a host city.

    "It is fantastic to be here and I think that the diversity in the presentations that I've heard has been really interesting," Jevans told ATR.

    "Everything from tourism, to women in sport, and the impact of major events on a country."

    When asked what makes for a successful major event, Jevans said, "Engagement is so important.

    "You have to engage the community, you have to engage the nation and not just underestimate that.

    "Things won't just happen if you think 'it's a sports event' and about those two weeks and that's it. You have to do a lot of work around it and that then enhances the product."

    Jevans "envious" of Tokyo 2020 proposed additional events

    The former British professional tennis player also told ATR that she welcomes the additional events proposed by Tokyo leaders for the 2020 Olympic Program.

    Jevans also served as the director of sport for London 2012 (Getty)
    "Certainly in 2012 we would have loved the opportunity to maybe have a demonstration sport but they stopped before that so we didn't have that opportunity.

    "So I am slightly envious that Tokyo has got the opportunity to do that and I think it's excellent and I applaud the IOC for doing so." 

    Tokyo 2020 selected baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing in September to represent "both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events." The 18 events will result in the addition of around 475 athletes to the Tokyo 2020 sports program.

    "If you look at the success of BMX and snowboarding in the Winter Olympic Games; to be able to adapt and bring in new disciplines is really important," Jevans said.

    "I think it's great when the Olympic Games shows itself to evolve, because it is doing that whilst not getting away from its core sports and its core values."

    Written by Nicole Bennett

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