The conference is being staged in Doha, Qatar, which will host the 2006 Asian Games and delegates were told that although the event is four years away the clock is already ticking.
Sandy Hollway, who was Chief Executive Officer of SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games), told the audience that complacency had to be avoided by organizers.
He urged them to take hard decisions early in the planning process.
“It is essential that you get to grips with the major issues early. The focus must be on the ‘must do’ issues rather than the things which are simply ‘nice’ to do. Four years may seem like a long time but it is only 200 weeks and they fly past very quickly.”
The success of the Sydney Olympics is widely believed to have raised the quality threshold for major sports events and Hollway was quick to praise the role played by 50,000 Australians who had given up their time to act as volunteers.
“They were recruited by a process of interview and their reward was to feel included and recognized for the role they had played in the success of this event. Some said it was the most memorable thing they had done in their lives.”
A Qatari delegate said he was confident that the State would be able to identify and train all the volunteers required for the Asian Games.
Alan Pascoe, an Olympic medallist who now heads the sports marketing company Fast Track has been at the centre of many events including the World Athletics Championships and this year’s Commonwealth Games.
He told the audience that ‘software’ issues of management and communication were as important as the creation of the facilities and infrastructure required to stage any event.
“And the time to start the process of communication is right now. There is no time to lose,” he said.
Pascoe also reminded organizers that events should be staged in venues built to an appropriate scale. He recalled last year’s IAAF Championships in Edmonton, Canada which, although well attended, were held in an unsuitable large stadium which appeared to be empty and lacking in atmosphere on TV broadcasts.
Security is another key concern in an era of increasing terrorist threat and General Maurice Lallement, Expert of Security, who advised the organizers of the France 98 World Cup, and is working with the Beijing Olympic Authorities warned that vigilance, risk assessment, forward planning and instigation of thorough security procedures was essential. But, he said, it was important to ensure that security measures were not so oppressive that they took the fun out of the event.
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