Moves to ease global sports calendar congestion at heart of sustainability drive
By Jonathan Rest
Raffaele Chiulli, president of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, has warned all stakeholders that there are difficult conversations to be had over the future make-up of the sports calendar as issues surrounding sustainability increase in importance.
GAISF, supported by the International Olympic Committee, today launched sustainability.sport, a web portal dedicated to issues such as climate change, economic inequality and social injustice.
The portal has been created to help further sport’s sustainability goals by providing a free tool where resources from the entire sports community can be collated onto one dedicated platform. A wide range of best practice case studies from sports governing bodies such as the IOC are also included within the portal’s content, with much more to be added in the future.
While GAISF's 125 members are not obliged to participate and upload content, Chiulli (pictured) indicated the umbrella body is considering implementing an awards system to incentivise federations.
The Italian, who is also president of the UIM, the international powerboating federation and ARISF, the Association of Recognised International Sports Federations, said while the sustainability initiative is in its infant stages, GAISF will look to implement "high-level standards and strict guidelines" for the range of multisport events that it organises, such as the World Combat Games, World Mind Games and World Urban Games, which debuted in Budapest last year.
The past decade has seen an explosion in the number of regional, continental and international sports events, with the likes of the Youth Olympic Games, European Games, multi-sport European Championships and GAISF's own competitions having launched, putting further pressure on an already congested calendar and, in sustainability terms, having an impact on the climate.
Chiulli told Sportcal the matter is being addressed at the highest levels, with GAISF director Philippe Gueisbuhler having recently attended a "global sport calendar coordination meeting."
Stakeholders are meeting once every quarter, with the IOC acting as a "high-level secretariat," in a bid to implement change and limit the growth of major sports events.
Chiulli explained: "It is a meeting of all the important stakeholders: the IOC, GAISF, Association of National Olympic Committees and the continental Olympic organisations, both ASOIF and AIOWF [the summer and winter Olympics sports bodies respectively], the International World Games Association.
"We are trying to map on a worldwide basis what type of sports events are being organised. Believe me this is not an easy task... you have things on a regional or continental basis, as well as global, and various organisations are a little bit reluctant to share dates.
"Once we have mapped all of this, what we are going to do is get together all the key stakeholders of the Olympic movement and try to think about how to preserve the well-being of the athletes and ensure sustainability, because we do not have to exaggerate with anyone organising anything. This is not sustainable and not in the interests of the athletes. We need to make sure they are not over-exploited physically and mentally."
He continued: "This is an action we have to do in terms of considering sustainability as one of the milestones when we consider these kind of multisport games and large events. We need to persuade all the stakeholders to take a little step back. You can imagine some say 'we have been doing this for the last 30 years'. It will not be easy but we are on the right track to map, sit down together and prioritise."
On sustainability.sport specifically, Chiulli said: "As the united voice of sports, we felt it was only right that GAISF created a service to help support our members in their incredible efforts to promote sustainability issues. It is our hope that this platform will not only serve the global sports community, but will also prove to be an invaluable tool for the wider community."
IOC sports director Kit McConnell added: "Today, we can see a growing momentum across the sports community to help the world build a more sustainable future. With sustainability being one of the three pillars of Olympic Agenda 2020 – the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement – our aim is to support sports organisations big and small in their sustainability journey."
More information about the platform can be found at sustainability.sport.