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The Leader: Sir Keith Mills

Sir Keith Mills writes exclusively in SportBusiness International about how the Olympic Movement can connect with the next generation, the British America’s Cup challenge and upcoming Invictus Games.

When we bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, we won them to build around our next generation.

The Youth Olympics has an important role in engaging with the next generation. However, the problem with this event is the economics. I think the IOC (International Olympic Committee) would do well to find a less expensive way of hosting these Games.

The IOC has also been slow to embrace digital media. One of the things we recognised early on with London 2012 was that the IOC has traditionally tended to focus on terrestrial TV through major broadcast deals, but has not invested the time, money or effort to really bring the Games to life digitally. The next generation consume not only sport but most of their lives via a mobile application these days.

I think there is great potential for the IOC to embrace the digital age, but they have been slow at making that happen. If the IOC is going to capture a younger Olympic audience – which it absolutely needs to – making the Youth Olympics more accessible via digital instead of TV, lower in cost to host and with cooler sports, then I could see the Olympic Movement really building something within its next generation fanbase.

Winds of Change

We announced last month in Greenwich (London) that we were launching a sailing team to challenge for the America’s Cup in four years’ time. The previous week the Americans had issued the rules for challenging for the Cup, so over the next couple of months we will be talking to them about how to make the rules as fair as possible so we have a chance of challenging competitively.

The real focus now is building up a team, and we are speaking to a number of large British companies who are all looking to get prime billing in the team. Assuming that we make progress ensuring that the rules are fair, I think we’ve got a great chance. The Cup itself will take place in 2017, and three American venues, plus one in Bermuda, are in contention to host it.

The America’s Cup World Series gives people around the world a real flavour of what America’s Cup sailing is all about. Given the excitement in the last America’s Cup (held in San Francisco in 2013), the new TV format that completely transformed the sport and the amazing comeback the Americans had, assisted by Ben Ainslie, it is building into something really special.

Power of Sport

The Invictus Games are going to be one of the major sporting highlights of 2014 and a real inspiration to many around the world. It will be the first time an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women takes place in the UK – a unique opportunity to not only support them on their journey to recovery, but also thank them for the way they have served their countries so bravely.

The power of sport and the positive impact it can have on these people in their journey of recovery is undeniable. These are the men and women who have suffered life-changing injuries but refuse to be beaten. I’ve been lucky enough to have met some of the men and women who are hoping to compete in the Games this September and their determination and strength is both humbling and inspiring.

 

This is the reason we have called the event the Invictus Games. Invictus is Latin for unconquered, a word that embodies the fighting spirit of these men and women and what they can achieve. With 14 countries taking part in nine sporting disciplines, plus tens of thousands of spectators and a spectacular opening ceremony and closing concert, the Invictus Games promise to be an extraordinary event.

I am sure the public will be inspired and will join us at venues made famous by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The inspiration for the Invictus Games came from Prince Harry after he took a British team to compete in the United States last year. With the Royal Foundation, the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and our presenting partner Jaguar Land Rover behind us, we are confident the Games will make a huge impact.

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