I completely agree with Sir Philip Craven, the Paralympic Games is the most valuable asset of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the schedule should not change. This will ensure that this growing multi-sport major event is organised at the highest standards.
The Olympic Games are a "Test Event" for the Paralympic Games. Venues, Transport, Accommodation and other Service Levels are tested throughout the Olympic Games and are the most valuable experience for IPC senior management to assess what needs to be improved in the transition period in between both events; therefore, hosting the Paralympic Games before the Olympic Games will have an impact on the quality of this inspiring event.
Hosting the Paralympic Games in Rio after the Olympic Games showed that even in challenging economic and social environments this "tremendous" Games can attract (last minute) a great number of spectators from different socio-demographic backgrounds to the Park or Venues, and inspire millions of spectators on TV worldwide.
2020 is likely to be the OTT tipping point in some countries but the picture will vary greatly country by country depending on factors like the quality and speed of wifi and 3G/4G connectivity and the time difference between that country and Japan. Much will also depend on the quality and availability of the OTT offerings from Olympics rights holders. Rights holders need to provide OTT services on all devices so that fans can watch from the comfort of their living rooms on a Smart TV, on their phones while on the go and (perhaps covertly) at work on a PC. The user experience of these services will need to be intuitive and strike the right balance between flexibility and ease of use and streams will have to be of high quality and reliability to match or better traditional TV.
In countries other than the UK where the the Olympics can feature commercial breaks, rights owners will need to strike the right balance with ad load and should consider how to deliver more personalized ads to earn higher ad revenue while providing a relevant experience to viewers. Given the 7 or 8 hour time difference between Tokyo and Europe, OTT services do offer rights holders a way to engage sports fans when they're not in front of their main TV during prime time. So I really hope that OTT services will take off and represent a much larger percentage of total viewing, possibly even with minimal erosion in linear viewing meaning higher overall ratings for the games. Rights holders have the next 4 years to work this out. On your marks, get set, go
Besides the enjoyment of each and every moment of genuine sportmanship that the only the Olympics can offer (and not so generously, unfortunately), for the first time this year I watched the Games through the lens of Data.
It was a unique experience, which gave me plenty of insights to measure and explain athletes and teams' performance: goo.gl/dBaO3J
I hope the next 4-year Olympiad will grant me the opportunity to train intensively at sports analytics and be fit for Tokyo 2020.
The decision of the IPC is another sign that this is a "double standard" edition of the Games and we all have to live with it. Some athletes have suspiciously fallen victim of the ban and some have surprisingly escaped it.
As Usain Bolt said in a recent interview, it will take some years before the sport gets cleaner.
What the IOC and the IPC are willing to do to secure (and impose) a cleaner sport the day after the Rio flame goes off will make the difference.
We could not be happier that we have exceeded all expectations with our Paralympic marketing program and have created a new record. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games has been a great catalyst for positive change, both in Sochi and the rest of Russia, and we have implemented a number of programs that are amongst the most important Games legacies.
The creation of a barrier-free environment in Sochi, enabling people with a disability to access both the city and sporting facilities more easily, is a model for other Russian cities to follow; the Accessibility Map plots accessible facilities and venues in cities throughout Russia, enabling local residents to get the most out of what is available on their doorsteps; and the palpable shift in attitude towards people with a disability in Russia is heartening to see. We are overjoyed that the Games has proven to be such a success and hope that you enjoy what is left of them as much as we intend to.
Security of the athletes and spectators must be the number one priority in Sochi, as well it was for London, Vancouver, Beijing, Torino and before that Athens and many other Games. We saw the 1972 Munich Games become a major turning point for Games security, and this was reinforced again at the Atlanta 1996 Games and after 9/11.
We are now in a global era of terrorism where every host city and event is a potential target. It is the responsibility of every organising committee to prepare accordingly, and take all precautions necessary. However, you can still have great security and a great Games time atmosphere if you plan properly. Security can be designed into the venues and surrounding infrastructure and multilayered and can be almost invisible, but there will always be some inconvenience with airport-style security but this is a small price to pay. And while the much heralded terrorist threat has been framed in terms of suicide bomber attacks, or hidden explosive devices and other such threats, the spectre of computer system breakdowns or cyber attacks poses a major threat and can cause massive confusion and chaos as we saw on a lesser scale at the Atlanta Games when the press operations results systems collapsed.
Games organisers must also balance safety and security with a festive, party atmosphere inside the venues and surrounding public spaces in the host city and beyond, enabling the triumphs and achievements of the athletes to be celebrated in the Medals Plazas and other places. The Olympic Games is the world's foremost sporting event; it is not a security event. Security will continue to be an ever growing feature of future Games if sport is to be truly global, and the Olympic Games is to go to new territories and move out of the comfort zones of western Europe and North America. This globalisation of sport into new markets however must never be at the expense of the athletes and so security will continue to be a major element in the staging of major international events.
No security operation is perfect, even for those that are orchestrated on the scale of the Olympic Games, although Sochi does have a few advantages in their favour, like a compact Olympic Park cluster of venues closely collocated near the main Olympic Village, making it easier to throw a security blanket around the majority of athletes and officials.
Nonetheless, Sochi organisers will breathe a big sigh of relief once they get through the Opening Ceremony and then first weekend of sporting competition, which are two of the busiest and most challenging periods during any Games, when the majority of athletes and visitors are present and can be a prime target time for a terrorist or security attack.
Security and safety at the Games has always been and will remain of paramount importance. We have undertaken an unprecedented level of planning and security measures over the last seven years and Games security is being managed by the authorities in a highly rigorous way. We are confident that the Games will be safe and secure for all. With just under a month to go until the opening of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, we are ready and in full Olympic mode. This month we are fine-tuning to ensure that all our guests have plenty of time to adjust to the Olympic security procedures in place.
Everyone coming to the Games will do so freely, just as with any Olympic and Paralympic Games. Every visitor to Sochi will have a fantastic experience and will receive a warm Russian welcome. Our focus is on delivering the best-ever Winter Games so the world can enjoy incredible sport competitions.
Sir Philip Craven has been an outstanding President of the IPC and his re-election is tribute to all the work he accomplished as a member of the Board of LOCOG and delivery of the outstanding Paralympic Games in London last year.
He now has the opportunity to build on the London success as the IPC prepares for the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 and to set a forward agenda for the Paralympic movement based on his extensive experience of leading a world-wide sport movement."
No doubt that the further professionalization of the boardroom is one of the most critical governance challenges facing sport governing bodies - across sports and nations and internationally too.
Countries like the United Kingdom is in many ways exemplifying and defining leadership in sport governance modernization. That is not least the case in terms of numerous sport governing bodies introducing independent directors in the boardroom. Such independent directors increase diversity and add additional perspectives, experience, expertise, skills and network. Their presence also helps address the challenge around conflicts of interest in the boardroom, as their appointment is based on merit only.
A diverse boardroom is desirable for any sector, including sport. Not only does a boardroom that reflects society take all relevant perspectives into account in its decision-making. It is also better at innovating. And it is better at engaging with and talking the language of all relevant stakeholders. In sport, that is particularly valuable in the efforts to increase the participation and talent base. However, while actively striving for gender diversity in the boardroom is a good start, it is important to acknowledge that diversity has much more to it than gender only. It is ultimately about reflecting the diversity in society. Besides of gender, that includes aspects such as age, religion and ethnicity. For instance, a boardroom with representation of young people will have better chances of successfully finding ways of increasing the participation base of young people.
Quotas can be one effective way of ensuring more diversity in the boardroom. For instance, in 2003 the Norwegian government successfully introduced the rule for listed companies to get at least 40% women in their boardrooms. Another effective way in achieving more diversity in the boardroom can be to tie public funding of sport to specific good governance criteria, either in the form of carrots or/and sticks. Ultimately, however, it is in the enlightened self-interest of a sport governing body to actively strive for more diversity in the boardroom - with or without imposed quotas. What is at stake is the future foundation for good decision-making and the future foundation for winning the game - not least in terms of continuing being able to attract interest among young people, in more fierce competition with other sports and other recreational activities than ever.
Congratulations Sir Craig - what an important job!