The sports world is just beginning to adapt to this month’s announcements that Guadalajara will not proceed with the 2017 FINA World Aquatic Championships and Edmonton will not bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. These announcements followed rounds of budget cutting based on expected revenue declines after oil prices declined by more than 50%. These may be short-sighted decisions since the dependency of host countries Mexico and Canada on oil revenues looks like a good reason to pursue economic diversification. The plans for the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games and 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games to upgrade skills needed in a diversified service economy are showing the upside of this approach.
The Toronto 2015 team is working together with the labor department of the province of Ontario to motivate high performance by volunteers with a recognized credential. Many of the skills are in demand in service and hospitality industries, such as supporting receptions and ceremonies, assisting event and equipment logistics, operating information technology systems, and facilities maintenance. Toronto 2015 is also organizing a formal internship program designed to fulfill the work experience required as part of their post-secondary studies and help participants to acquire new skills that will give them a competitive advantage in the future.
Rio 2016 volunteer recruiting is a work in progress, but a recent report on the goals for the health services team shows how well managed sports events can provide valuable educational opportunities for skilled professionals. Nurses and health care technicians will have opportunities to acquire new skills working with athletes who are taking human performance to the limit. The health care team will also build more sophisticated skills in diagnostics and emergency health services, as well as preventative health care. In addition, first time health care volunteers will work together with veterans from London 2012 and Athens 2004 who have moved up the ladder in specialized skills which they can transfer to new volunteers.
This week, the Rio 2016 community is helping to demonstrate how its vision will also help to support sports education and professional development. Rio 2016 Co-ordination Commission delegates and athletic veterans Sergey Bubka and Nawal El Moutawakel gave aspiring young athletes a special training session in track and field competitions. IOC Executive Board member and 1976 Olympic medalist Anita DeFrantz will present a rowing clinic and IOC President Thomas Bach will conduct a model fencing clinic.
One important skill that needs to be developed more effectively in the future is sophisticated measurement and documentation of the professional skills acquired by participants in major international sporting competitions. Legacy plans in typical host city bid books typically focus on the infrastructure projects that will be available to the host community after the sports event concludes. Professional skills that support economic diversification and improve economic output with more advanced professional skills and employee productivity can play an equally important role in successful legacy visions.