Leaders September 2016

True Champions

Britain is a leader in the world of sport

For Japan-based sports fans who have been gorging themselves on a television diet of Olympic coverage from Rio, the calm following the end of the Games will have provided a welcome respite. Now is the time to reset body clocks after an extended period of late night and early morning viewing across several time zones. It is hoped that treasured memories of Team GB’s Olympic gold rush will more than compensate for any  disruption to sleep patterns.

Highlights are too numerous to mention. Cyclists, athletes and rowers (to mention just a few Team GB competitors who excelled) delivered performances that met the most demanding of public expectations.

Perhaps even sweeter, though, were the performances of individuals and teams that defied more modest expectations. They won medals with breathtaking displays of quality and competitiveness that fans could hardly have dreamed of ahead of time. The triumphant British women’s hockey team and male gymnasts are shining examples of what can be achieved with total dedication and self-belief.

And for those looking for the secret of Team GB’s success, gold medal rower Mohamed Sbihi let slip the key to being a true champion—“you do it for pride, honour, and the prestige”.

Cross-border issues
Purity of motivation aside, modern professional sport is a business. And like many businesses of a global nature, international cooperation is required to regulate it. We are reminded of this by the Brexit briefing paper published last month by the House of Commons Library. The briefing includes 183 pages of analysis on the impact of Brexit on policy areas. This includes not only the frequently debated matters of trade, employment, energy and immigration—but also sport.

Following the Lisbon Treaty, sport is an area of EU competence, with programmes for combating cross-border issues such as doping, violence, match-fixing and racism. Just as the UK should continue to work proactively and effectively with the rest of Europe and the world on the headline issues of economic, environmental, and security policy, it is hoped that it will remain equally engaged in the fields of culture and sport.

UK consultancies have particular practical skills and experience with which to address the challenges that must be tackled by the organisers of global sporting events, and there will doubtless be opportunities for them to employ these for the benefit of the tournaments to be hosted in Japan at the end of this decade.

For those operating in the fields of sports venue design/build, management, operations, security and technology, the Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2016 conference and exhibition at the Yokohama Arena (26–28 September) will be a timely reminder of the opportunities at hand.