One of the dreams of any sport event organizer is that the population connects to the project, can take ownership of the event and eventually having a stadium full of spectators. But this is the result of an engagement strategy that should not be neglected, that can take time and that must be carried out well before the event.
Many recent organizing committees have understood the importance of engagement and have started to involve their local population on the event several years in advance. This is the case of LA 2028 which unveiled its emblem in September 2020, as a result of a participative process where athletes, celebrities, artists and members of the population worked to propose designs illustrating what the city of Los Angeles and the Games represent for them.
Another organizing committee that understood the importance of giving a central place to the population by encouraging cities, young people and the general public at large is Paris 2024. Three initiatives were launched:
- Terre des Jeux 2024: a label designed for communities (municipalities, departments and regions) and sport organizations (national federations, clubs, etc…) that commit to develop concrete actions to promote sport and the Games. The label gives the territories and sport organisations certain benefits, such as becoming one of the Games preparation centres and make their facilities available for delegations wishing to train in France before the Games.
- Generation 2024: label for French schools and higher education institutions that commit to put more sports in the daily lives of schoolchildren and students, with the objective of preparing them for the Olympic adventure they will experience in 2024.
- Club 2024: an initiative with the main mission of sharing the Olympic journey with the French public. The members will have sports activities and challenges that will allow them to earn points and win unique rewards such as being able to be a torchbearer or to participate in the first public marathon in the Games history. Four years before the opening ceremony, the challenges have already started and citizens have already been able to challenge several Olympians like Tony Parker or Florent Manaudou.
These engagement initiatives seek to ensure that stakeholders are not only spectators of the Games but also fully engaged in the process of making them.
One last recent example is the last edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games which took place in Lausanne, in January 2020, the organisers wanted to deliver an event with the main objective of making the Games “for, by and with the young people”. They involved schoolchildren and students in the delivery of the games, such as the projects on the mascot design, the construction of the cauldron or the composition of the official song. The result? An inclusive Youth Olympic Games edition created in collaboration with the people – attracting more than half a million spectators, a remarkable result for a youth event.