Category: Olympics
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The Rise of Technical Sustainable Partnerships in Sport

Charlotte Ellingham, Senior Account Manager

Right Formula Senior Account Manager, Charlotte Ellingham, reviews recent sustainability activations and how the power of sport can highlight and affect positive change – starting with rightsholders’ commercial partners.

Sport is a powerful vehicle that contributes to making a positive change. Whether creating a cultural shift that helps communities through technological innovations or simply inspiring a new generation through world class performances, each step results in a bigger and more influential impact which in turn creates a continuous positive chain of reactions.  

A scan of the news in recent months can attest to the urgency in which we need to make a change in our day to day lives, particularly when it comes to creating a greener and more sustainable future. This need for a more immediate long-term improvement in our society, aided by sport, is instrumental in making that significant difference. 

Some of the world’s most renowned sporting occasions embody this foresight already and continue to make strides in this area. Increasingly, sustainability is becoming a common theme as major sporting events and venues seek to actively promote not only their environmental efforts but also the improvements that they are making now that fans are back in the stadiums and arenas. 

This year the ATLEC, in partnership with the BBC, COP26 and the Met Office, introduced the first Environment Day at Wimbledon. Their aim was to highlight the growing climate crisis through a variety of bespoke discussions featured throughout the day on TV broadcast and social media. Noticeable changes were also made on site and included the recycling of used racket strings, reusable cups for cold drinks and zero waste to landfill.

Their aim is to achieve much needed awareness to inspire others to follow suit whilst showcasing the latest in the innovative technologies we now have at our disposal. This in turn creates impactful change whilst shedding light on those best practice brands and sporting organisers which can become a beneficial marketing tool for both parties.

 

What more can brands do in this space?

Inspiring change is exactly what Tokyo 2020 Olympic Partner and one of our clients Aggreko, is setting out to achieve. As a temporary power and energy solutions company, Aggreko are setting the stage for many of its long-standing clients by developing ground-breaking technologies, and filling the urgent need to provide a more sustainable and renewable solution, at a green sporting event.

A range of new innovative products and services are provided at many of the biggest stages across in the world. 

 No stone is left unturned, which was the message of the partnership announced at the recent 149th Open Championship. A hybrid system was installed that was made up of two renewable microgrids which supplied 100% reliable power without a connection to the grid, powering a fleet of electric vehicles used during the championship. In addition, for the first time in the R&A’s history, all generators on site were entirely fuelled by HVO – a sustainable biodiesel derived from waste and residue feedstock. 

Through a collaboration with the R&A, Mercedes-EQ and Connected Kerb, the project became the focal point within the sustainability zone, positioned at the entrance to the course, stimulated a conversation with golf fans. 

Aside from sustainability and inspiring a new generation,
sport provides the catalyst for a cultural shift
on a wide variety of important topics. 
 

 
One great example of this is Olympics and the work conducted by the IOC.

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has wrapped up, it’s clear to see the impact that the two weeks will have on both old and new sports. Those newly included in the recent Games each started their Olympic campaign with individual reservations about whether they would provide as much entertainment as the long-standing and high-profile events like the traditional track and field events. As soon as the games began this quickly dissipated and the world was introduced to the likes of new superstars in sports such as Skateboarding and Rock Climbing, who were catapulted into the global spotlight and a new realm of fame. 

Significant moments at an Olympic Games can have a huge impact on sport participation at a global and local level. For example, when the Team GB Women’s Hockey team won gold in Rio 2016, the average hockey club across England grew by 54% – particularly amongst under 16’s. Although some players continued to play with a focus on winning a medal in Tokyo, others decided to use their newfound fame to promote matters close to their hearts such as diversity and inclusion and took positions within the media to further increase their profile and efforts. 

There is a role for brands to play with joining and building on this momentum, which mutually benefits the ambassadors by increasing their profile, but also allows the brands to align with key messaging that a business stands for. 

In recent years, Aggreko have supported LGPA Golfer Mel Reid who champions the message of inclusion and the importance of women in sport. A unique partnership such as this allows Aggreko and Mel to work together and make a difference in areas that matter to them both. 

The promotion of sport around the world with the message of inclusion provides a platform for the quality of sport to grow further, and ultimately also produces a better calibre of sport as a more diverse skill set starts to be included.

The legacy that is created from events such as the Tokyo Olympics and the stars its produced, will result in more fan participation in sport as well as provide help with the plight of increasing diversity and inclusion across sport on a global level. 

CHARLOTTE ELLINGHAM, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER

 

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Guest Blog: Callum Skinner on the impact of a postponed Olympics

By Callum Skinner, Olympic Cycling Champion

Olympic cycling champion and Right Formula client Callum Skinner writes exclusively for our new website about how the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could provide opportunities for athletes and brands alike.

It’s fair to say the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were put in an unenviable position of postponing Tokyo 2020 until 2021. In my role at Global Athlete, I was one of hundreds of athletes calling for the IOC to listen to us, put welfare first and postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. 

That being said, it wasn’t an easy decision for us athletes either. Athletes prepare for an Olympic Games for four to 10 years, so it’s not an easy decision to postpone. Some athletes who were targeting 2020 as their last Olympics may not be able to compete at all, as an extra year of intense training presents a risk to both physical and mental health. Half of Olympic sports haven’t finished their qualification schedule for the Games due to cancellations around Covid-19. Some potential Olympians may miss out on selection.

On physical health, there are 11,000 athletes and thousands of additional support staff from over 200 countries who would have come together in a compact village, which is obviously not advisable in a global pandemic. Of that, 700-1,000 athletes at the London 2012 Olympics were diagnosed asthmatics, putting them in an ‘at risk’ category. With respiratory illness reported as the most common athlete illness at an Olympic Games, this could lead to ‘false positives’ and greater anxiety among healthy athletes.

Separately, it’s well documented that Olympic athletes face financial struggles between Games. In the UK, teams work on a four-year funding cycle, so this presents a major challenge if additional funding is not provided. With the world likely to enter a Covid-19-induced recession, sponsorship opportunities will be few and far between.

 

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 can have a positive effect on the wider Olympic movement, though. The Olympics will bounce back and postponement presents an amazing opportunity to use the power of the Games to bring the world back together when we enter the post-pandemic era. 

Here are a few reasons how:

• Content: A postponed Games will put athlete stories, rather than performances, at the heart of any coverage. I have no doubt there will be many superb narratives that will become apparent as a result of the current measures in place. This will provide great content for media going forwards, putting athletes and their sponsors – not least their human side – firmly in the spotlight.

• The Alternative: If the Games were to go ahead as scheduled, the media focus would be on COVID-19 and possible outbreaks, instead of the athletes who have worked so hard to get there. Australia and Canada said they would boycott the Games and more would have followed if the original date was kept. This would devalue any results, and it goes without saying that you want the greatest athletes to be present. A good example is the Zika virus at Rio 2016, where even with limited concerns a number of athletes pulled out. 

• A Summer of Sport: 2021 is set to be an exceptional summer of sport – Euro 2021, the Rugby League World Cup, the Ryder Cup and the British & Irish Lions Tour, to name a few major tournaments set to take place. Athletes who make their squads are going to be part of something amazing and should look to market themselves to brands who don’t want to miss out.

In short, while no athletes wanted a delayed Olympics, it’s our job to overcome obstacles and succeed in any given situation – and that is what we will do.

Callum Skinner is best known for his achievements at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he claimed a gold and silver medal, as well as an Olympic record. After retiring in 2018, he has successfully built a career in sports marketing and continues to push for improving athlete rights. In recent years, he has been a prominent voice on anti-doping, even delivering a speech on clean sport at the White House. He also sits on both the Team GB and UK Anti-Doping Athletes Commissions and is Lead Athlete at the athlete movement for positive change in sport, Global Athlete. Right Formula is proud to support Callum in his work for cycling start-up HindSight, Global Athlete and other projects.