As the Paris Olympics Promise New Ambition, Old Anxieties Intensify
Paris offers a fresh start to the International Olympic Committee, one of the top governing bodies of sports worldwide. In the next 20 years, the IOC would like to grow the Olympics into a major part of the global economy. But as the Olympics open, its old anxieties are becoming more entrenched.
On May 27, a day after the IOC’s World Congress, one of its most important business functions will take place, in the halls of the Palais de Sports in Le Havre. There, the heads of some of the sports it promotes will gather to decide how to move forward.
After the end of the Games, the IOC will have to take a much-needed breath. It has no idea how much this will cost. The IOC needs to make a decision on whether to continue to promote the Summer Games, or if it will decide to end them after the next one.
There are two separate issues: one of structure, the Olympic movement, the other of style, the IOC’s image.
Both are important. To become a major world sport, sports must change. They need to change the way that fans are treated, the way that the media and government take their cues, and the way that the media treat their coverage.
It also needs to become a leading force in business. There are too many other opportunities to succeed as a sports marketing force, like the United States’s National Football League, which has recently seen its advertising budget increase even as its revenue has been stagnant. The sports industry has already invested heavily in digital marketing. But it can become much more efficient (and profitable) if it uses data, social media and other technologies to reach a more diverse audience before and after the Olympics open.
Finally, sports need to start thinking globally. The IOC has been on a two-month tour to promote the Olympics. It has done this while dealing with the fallout from the