(ATR) The Czech Olympic Committee is hoping other NOCs will follow its lead in developing "Sports Parks" to engage fans at home during Olympic Games.
Czech snowboard gold medalist Eva Samkova with kids at PyeongChang Sport Festival in Ostrava (Czech NOC)
An interactive, online handbook aimed at supporting and guiding National Olympic Committees to organize Olympic Festivals in their countries was launched by the Czech NOC in Prague last week during the Global Sports Events Go Local conference.
The release of the handbook is the culmination of a two-year project, "Sport Parks Inspired by the Olympics". The initiative was developed with the IOC’s collaboration and coordinated with NOCs from Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Slovenia.
The Czech-inspired Olympic Festivals concept was officially adopted by the IOC Executive Board in July 2017.
Czech NOC vice president Roman Kumpost said he is proud of his team’s work on the project and believes other NOCs will develop their own versions of Sport Festivals for future Olympic Games.
Czech NOC vice president Roman Kumpost at the Global Sport Events Go Local conference (Czech NOC)
“We started this project in 2014 and no one was sure what we can expect, but the results, even for the first one, were absolutely excellent for us,” Kumpost tells Around the Rings
. “It showed that there was a big potential for the future.
“This Erasmus (co-funded) project that we started some years ago was to try and summarize everything that is necessary for the organization of these Sport Parks. How to handle to it, how to work with it, and what we can offer to every organizer through the handbook.
“The project of the Olympic Festivals, in connection with Olympic Agenda 2020, is now on the international level. It has been totally outside of our expectations.”
Czech Olympic coordinator Jana Janatova presented the handbook at the gathering attended by IOC representatives, including associate director for Olympic Movement relations James Macleod, and more than 90 participants from 13 countries. Olympic marketing directors from France, Italy and Germany were among the interested observers.
“They are of the same opinion that there is absolutely huge potential for the future,” Kumpost said, referring to the trio of European marketing officials.
The Czech Olympic Committee launched the first Sport Park in Prague coinciding with the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. The Sport Parks, or Olympic Festivals, are designed to engage the local population in sport and Olympism in a fun and festive environment. Visitors and families can watch live feeds of events, learn about and try Olympic sports, and meet Olympians, some of whom just returned from competing at the Games. The Sport Parks concept also provides NOC sponsors and partners opportunities to activate their brands.
Olympic Sport Park in Prague during Sochi 2014 (Czech NOC)
“On one side, it allows the sponsors to be closer to the public during the Olympic Games and the second thing is the limitation of visitors to the global Olympic Games,” Kumpost explained. “It is expensive, far away and most families cannot go as spectators.
“The Sport Festivals are exciting for the families and children, and I was totally surprised in Buenos Aires at the Youth Olympic Games, they had something similar like the festivals – they had sports and on the side, children could try the sports,” he said.
The Czech NOC officials have sustained the project, developing and implementing Sport Festivals for Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018. Kumpost noted that they are planning a fourth Olympic Festival event for Tokyo 2020.
“We have come a long way since the first Olympic Festival at Letná in 2014,” said Czech NOC president Jiri Kejval, referring to the Prague park where it was first held. “I am very happy that, thanks to excellent partners and the support of the International Olympic Committee and other organizations, we can now pass on our know-how to the world.”
Other NOCs that have launched their own sport festivals and parks at home include Belgium and the Netherlands during Rio 2016 and France and Slovenia for PyeongChang 2018.
Kumpost said he is certain that the handbook will serve as valuable tool for NOCs moving forward.
"After the launch last week, we’ve already had 80 entries in the Olympic Festival handbook from NOCs around the world, including from the U.S. and Australia.
“I am really confident that already for Tokyo, there will be many more NOCs involved in organizing Olympic Festivals.”
The handbook can be accessed at https://www.sportparks.com
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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