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26 Oct 2005
IOC News

Sport and television: a successful partnership

At the 16th Sportel, the international meeting of sport and television held each year in Monaco, IOC President Jacques Rogge invited the main sports leaders and television channel executives to focus on the relations between sport and television and the benefits that both parties can take from this.
Addressing the audience on the “influences of television on sport: rules and refereeing”, the IOC President recalled that sport and television are the story of a successful partnership – with each partner working in tandem but taking turns to drive the relationship. If sport is globally popular today, it is largely thanks to television. When television achieves its highest viewing figures, it is often thanks to sport. So it is no surprise that the Athens Olympic Games attracted 3.9 billion viewers a day last year, and a total audience of 35 billion over the 16 days of competitions.
Sport has benefited from television
In his presentation, the IOC President also underlined that, thanks to new technology, high quality images and broader coverage, television has brought out the entertainment side of sport, while focusing on the human story behind each achievement and allowing millions of people on the five continents to share these unique moments. Nobody can deny that television has changed sport. The IOC’s strategy to finalise long-term broadcasting agreements has certainly generated considerable revenues but this means, above all, more revenue to distribute within the Olympic Movement to ensure the development and practice of sport on all continents, through the Olympic Solidarity programme, and also to help the host cities to organise the Olympic Games. The IOC also maintains its policy in which television agreements must provide free-to-air and the broadest coverage possible, respecting the fundamental principle of universality.
TV influences on sport
The spirit of sport should not be altered just to please television. Finding the best compromise unquestionably means modernising sport to make it even more attractive whether through the rules, equipment or refereeing. A few examples given by the President were: the change of tennis balls’ colour from white to yellow, thus allowing us to see them more clearly on television and follow the rallies between players more easily; archery and its new competition format and the introduction of the direct elimination system; volleyball, with its new counting and point-scoring system; tennis, with the introduction of the tie-break; the new judging system in figure skating; and the use of video in gymnastics, wrestling, sailing and rugby for the judges and referees. Sport today is becoming more exciting and attractive: for those who practise it, those who organise it and those who watch it.
Keep the spirit of sport
While television has an influence on the changes made to certain sports, this does not alter the fact that sport itself must remain the master of its own destiny, in close collaboration with the International Federations and in agreement with the athletes.
The IOC President concluded, “If we continue this partnership, without losing sight of our values, the sports world can look forward to many more magic and inspiring moments in the years ahead. Sport, a universal language, needs television, a universal medium, and vice versa.”
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