International Sports Federations (IFs) know their disciplines and events better than anyone else. Their involvement during the official IOC Debriefing of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is then paramount for future Organising Committees. Sarah Lewis, Secretary General of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the Association of Winter Olympic International Federations (AWOIF), outlines why.
For the former British Alpine skier, Sarah Lewis, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games were “exciting”, filled with “fantastic competitions” and “great celebrations”. They were also the first time that a number of winter sport disciplines and events were staged in Russia and, as the FIS Secretary General enthuses, “to achieve that level of success was outstanding.”
After 30 years of involvement in skiing, both on a competitive and administrative level, Sarah Lewis knows what she’s talking about. She exemplifies why it is vital that internationals sports federations have the opportunity to share their experience and expertise on their sporting competitions during such debriefings.
“From our perspective, it demonstrates that sport is really at the heart of the Games,” comments the Olympian. “Sports and athletes are ultimately what the Games are about, and in the end, it is the athletic achievements that will stay with us forever. We really then want to be part of transferring that knowledge, that experience, those lessons learned from one Organising Committee, in this case Sochi 2014, through to PyeongChang, and also to the Applicant Cities for 2022.”
The AWOIF Secretary General underlines: “Within the context of the Olympic Games, we are generally working with organisers who don’t have experience across all of the sports, and certainly not all of the disciplines or events. Therefore, it is rather specialised what they will be getting into, and we can help facilitate that process.”
“There is a lot of expertise within the International Federations,” adds Lewis. “Between Olympic Games, we have calculated that we [FIS] organise more than 1,000 top level competitions, including World Cups. We really then can provide Organising Committees with an awful lot of material and knowledge so that they do not have to start from zero and reinvent the whole process.”
Ensuring that future Organising Committees are efficient and effective in their organisation of the Olympic Games requires a true team effort. “From the IOC downwards, across the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, responsible for the athletes, there has to be very close cooperation and an integration of what we are doing because there are always crossovers,” concludes Sarah Lewis. “Even though we have our own areas of expertise and speciality, we need to be sharing this knowledge at all levels.”
The IOC Debriefing of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games concluded on Wednesday 2 July, after four days of plenary and break-out sessions.