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  • GAISF Leader Says Sports Face Digital Challenge


    Raffaele Chiulli is expected to be elected GAISF president May 10. (ATR)
    (ATR) Raffaele Chiulli has vowed to keep pace with the rapidly changing face of sport in the digital age when he takes over the presidency of Global Association of International Sports Federations this Friday in Gold Coast, Australia.

    Chiulli, the experienced senior vice president, will succeed the late Patrick Baumann, who died suddenly during the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last October. Chiulli says he will bring his own style to the leadership and be more inclusive than ever before.

    He is determined to encourage the more than 100 sports that form the association to remain relevant by changing with the times that have seen more populist youth-based sports gain new footholds, and to make sport more inclusive and accessible “without discrimination”.

    Chiulli is in Australia as chair of GAISF’s SportAccord which will involve over 100 of the world’s leading sports officials representing the major federations and sports, bidders for major events and other stakeholders.

    Baumann was seen as a brilliant administrator who was at the forefront of increasing the relevance and respect of GAISF during two years at the helm. He was 52 when he died.

    Chiulli is the first to hold the GAISF leadership from a non-Olympic sport. Chiulli is president of the International Union of Powerboating.

    Raffaelle Chiulli welcomes IOC President Thomas Bach during the meeting of the Association of Recognized International Sports Federations. (Getty Images)
    At the cutting edge of the modernistic approach will be the inaugural Urban Games to be held in Budapest in September. The event will combine ‘new age’ sports, music and cultural activities.

    Chiulli says innovations around sports such as skateboarding, sport climbing, BMX freestyle bike riding, stand up paddle boarding and three-on-three basketball show how sport is quickly developing beyond traditional forms.

    “GAISF is to act without any discrimination or differentiation irrespective whether you are a large or small stakeholder or Olympic or non-Olympic federation,” Chiulli said.

    “That will be my style. To continue on the pathway that was launched by the late president, but with my own style and approach which is going to be much more inclusive without any differentiation.

    “There are new challenges but great new opportunities. It is an historical change in the world of sport.

    “The GAISF Urban Games it’s a great example of that, it is youth focussed, innovative sports disciplines. Sport bridging the gap with society. This is exactly what communities want - new fascinating, engaging sports – like skateboarding, like sport climbing, like BMX.

    “They want to use more technology, they are much more connected and engaged and we have the responsibility first to listen to the needs and expectations of the communities of the host cities and administrations and certainly to serve them by providing a sport platform which is going to leave a legacy of inclusion of new sports.

    “Combination of showcasing sport and sport disciplines that have the ambition one day to be in the Olympic program but at the same time to integrate those competitions with cultural initiatives, with concert music, is exciting. It gives
    the opportunity to the host city’s citizens to engage themselves with our champions with the new sports using the same facilities they are going to use once the Games are over.

    “This is real legacy. The investment we make will be to the benefit the whole city as they can practise what they observed and shared with the champions they watched.”

    GAISF director Philippe Gueisbuhler added: “We live in a fast-changing world and sport has to adapt to remain relevant and offer a service which is adjusted to the needs of our members … we have to move with society.

    “We can’t wait behind and wait and do things the same way. Hand in hand with that we have to be observant, we have to listen, to adjust and they are key points for us at GAISF.”

    Los Angeles had bid for the games but the council changed direction and moved the venue to Hungary because “Budapest’s proposed sports program was more in line with GAISF’s vision for the future of the Games”.

    The pillars of Chiulli’s presidency, he says, will be “integrity and transparency”, to “strengthen the rule of GAISF as a service-based organization while continuing to increase good governance” and to “promote and implement youth development programs and social responsibility initiatives, education and opportunities”.

    “I think sport has a great power to unite in diversity, irrespective of age, gender, ability, culture or belief. I would also like to focus on environmental issues because we would like our members to focus on a more sustainable future.

    “Sustainable in economic terms, in social terms and in environmentally friendly and respectful way,” says Chiulli.

    Reported from Gold Coast, Australia by Neil Cadigan. For general comments or questions, click here.
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