The inaugural Regional SportAccord Pan America conference in Fort Lauderdale was hailed as a resounding success by SportAccord president Raffaele Chiulli, providing huge value to key players and stakeholders in the Americas.
Around 550 delegates, from 61 members of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and over 70 countries, attended the three-day event at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 10-12, 2019.
Regional SportAccord has been added to the portfolio of events operated by SportAccord, sitting alongside the annual World Sport & Business Summit, which will next take place in Beijing in April 19-24, 2020, and the International Federation Forum, which takes place every autumn in Lausanne.
It was the first time since the 7th SportAccord International Convention in Denver, Colorado, in April 2009 that a SportAccord event has taken place in the Americas.
Delegates in sunny Fort Lauderdale included representatives from Ministries of Sport, National Federations, National Olympic Committees, cities and regions across Pan America. Some stardust was added by the participation of high-profile athletes including Romanian Olympic gymnastics legend Nadia Comăneci, former triple jump world-record holder Willie Banks and Hungarian Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Daniel Gyurta.
Meanwhile, among the world-leading sports executives present were International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty, World Lacrosse chief executive Jim Scherr, Association of Summer Olympic International Federations executive director Andrew Ryan and Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS) president Stephan Fox.
Crucially, the event provided a rare chance for many non-Olympic sports federations in the region to strike up connections, share knowledge and discuss the promotion and expansion of their respective sports locally. As such nine members of AIMS, which represents sports federations who are not yet recognized by the International Olympic Committee, were present.
“We are very, very happy with this inaugural edition of Regional SportAccord,” said Chiulli. “We’ve been listening to and talking to our key stakeholders for months and months. They told us that we have to be relevant to them in terms of geography, which means outside of the annual great convention that we organize, we need to organize more to the regions.
“There are certain stakeholders who are interested in what is happening in this region and they can capture maximum value with this kind of event rather than the bigger one. I’m convinced that having regional events in our portfolio of events will provide an offer that is more relevant to [many attendees] than the world event.
“We are proud that after listening to them that we have been able to deliver exactly what they were expecting us to deliver.”
The event comprised of a fascinating two-day conference, which included keynote speakers and panelists discussing a range of topics. This included ‘The Global Impact of Esports – Where we are and where we are going’, ‘The Changing Landscape of the International Sports World’, and ‘Anti-Doping – a sport problem or that of society?’
“We’ve created a platform to learn, to share, to engage, to avoid reinventing the wheel. It is through this open constructive exchange of views we can learn from the good and best practices and avoid the traps of the worst practices,” Chiulli said.
Gold partners at the event were the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Florida Sports Foundation and the Pan American Sports Organization (Panam Sports). CNN was the Top Media Partner of the event while other official media partners were AFP, Connect Sports, Host City, iSportconnect, SportBusiness Group, Sportcal, SportsPro and Yutang Sports.
Exhibitors included the Fédération Internationale de Teqball (FITEQ), Greensboro North Carolina Convention and Visitors Bureau, Connect Sports, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the International Jump Rope Union, USA Kettlebell Sport Lifting, the Miami Marlins, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) and Van Wagner Productions.
According to Chiulli, many of the city representatives present made inquiries about hosting the next Regional SportAccord as well as the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit. Some also spoke to Chiulli in his role as GAISF president about potentially hosting the organization’s World Urban Games and World Combat Games.
The location of the next Regional SportAccord is still to be determined but the event is expected to travel across the globe in the future. “The idea will be to serve the different regions the world so we need to think where to go next,” Chiulli added.