Plenary Conference

WEDNESDAY, 5 APRIL AND THURSDAY, 6 APRIL 2017 - Dania & Nortvegia Room (Conference Room 1)
This year's Plenary Conference will focus on the theme of "Innovation in Action" and will showcase best practices from International Federations and industry thought-leaders.
09:00-9:10 Welcome, Introductions
David Eades, Anchor and Journalist, BBC World   
09:10-09:40 PLENARY PANEL SESSION: Innovation – A permanent change revolution, or an opportunity to reset your sport?

How sports are using innovative approaches within their specific disciplines to advance both the sport itself as well as expand who is able to participate in it. Are we looking to shuffle along with the times, or are we prepared to make bold moves to provide a longer-term change, which fans, players, and sponsors can get behind and learn to love?

MODERATOR: David Eades, Anchor and Journalist, BBC World

  • Mark Barfield, Technical Manager, UCI 
  • Johannes Holzmüller, Head of Football Technology Innovation Department, FIFA  
  • Angela Ruggiero, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Sports Innovation Lab, and Chair of IOC Athletes’ Commission 
  • Chris Wells, Communication Manager, World Archery 

09:50-10:10 CASE STUDY:  IF innovation in Action – International Orienteering Federation

The very foundation of the sport of orienteering is finding your way in unknown territory, in the fastest time possible. The premise of ‘unknown territory’ has, in the past, been synonymous with less visible. But digital technology has changed the sport completely, and turned it into an exciting sport to follow for spectators, TV viewers and ‘digital nerds’ following competitions on the web. RFID technology for improved timing, GPS tracking technology, the innovative use of wireless ‘running-cams’ technology, as well as newly available geographic data and data mining technologies, have all transformed the sport, demonstrating ‘innovation in action’ in every sense of the word!
Tom Hollowell, Secretary General & CEO, IOF – International Orienteering Federation
10:10-10:30 PRESENTATION: Future Sports - Drone Racing
Drone Racing is a new high speed competitive racing sport. Skilled pilots fly quad-copter drones through three-dimensional courses at speeds up to 120mph. The drones are custom built for speed, agility, and performance, and pilots steer from the point of view of the drone by wearing First Person View (FPV) goggles that display a live image transmitted by an on-board camera. Combining, technology, innovation, physics, coordination, and precision, the experience for both pilots and fans is about as intense and immersive as it gets. 
Susanne Schödel, Secretary General, FAI - Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
10:40-11:10 Fireside chat with Alibaba’s Michael Evans
‘Open Sesame’: Unlocking the rich potential of new sporting horizons, and using innovation to drive sport to a new level of entertainment and fan engagement. 
When Sydney hosted the Olympic Games in 2000, Alibaba was a Chinese start-up, not quite a year old. Fast forward 18 years, Alibaba has grown into the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company. Its IPO in the US in 2014 was the largest to date. And now it is expanding into media, entertainment and sport, notably with the announcement of its partnership with the International Olympic Committee in January, to cover the Games up to 2028 (Alibaba is the official ‘cloud services’ and ‘e-commerce platform services’ partner, as well as founding partner of the Olympic Channel).
Michael Evans, President of Alibaba Group, will talk about Alibaba’s global ambitions, the company’s innovative approach to sports and entertainment, the growth of the digital and mobile market and the exciting potential of the Chinese market for sport.
11:10-11:30 Scene Setter: Innovation in the 'Business' of Sport
Sport is the fastest growing sector in the entertainment industry. It also holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of supporters, which means pure entertainment is never enough. Tom Glick, CCO, City Football Group, shares insight into how one club has opened the door to innovation to build loyalty and grow support, as well as commercial success.
Tom Glick, CCO, City Football Group
11:30-12:20 PANEL SESSION: Innovation in the Business of Sport 
Sport is a world where nothing can be taken for granted any more – even diehard fans have expectations moving as fast as the technology landscape. From spectator experience to sponsor engagement, digital, data and in-stadium technology allow you to provide much more – and draw so much more in return. This panel will consider the risks of moving too fast for the fans, balanced against the dangers of getting caught in the wake of other, faster moving clubs, sports and competitions.
MODERATOR: David Eades, Journalist and Anchor, BBC World
  • Ishveen Anand, Founder & CEO, OpenSponsorship 
  • David de Behr, Head of Sales, Aggreko Major Event, Aggreko 
  • Tom Glick, CCO, City Football Group 
  • Fiona Green, Director & Co-Founder, Winners
  • Bill Sweeney, CEO, British Olympic Association 
12:10-12:30 Wrap up Wednesday Plenary Sessions – Preview Thursday Sessions
09:45-9:50 Welcome, Introductions
Charmaine Crooks C.M., Olympic medalist and President, NGU Consultants Inc.
09:50-10:30 OPENING ADDRESS/PRESENTATION: TOKYO 2020 – The Most Innovative Games In History
Tokyo's Organising Committee promises the world's best technologies will be adopted to develop the venue experience and to make the Games run like never before.  Japan is ranked number one in the world for developing and patenting new technological products; the country's future is built on advances in science and technology. These qualities are being brought to bear in the development of Tokyo 2020, which promises to be the most technologically advanced Olympic Games.
Eiji Uda, Technology Innovation Officer, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee 
10:30-10:50 CASE STUDY/DEMONSTRATION:  Sambo – Using your digital assets professionally
How the Sambo Federation has professionalised the structure of their live-streaming in order to grow audiences, understand their fans better, increase female participation, add value to sponsors, and facilitate media access to results and athlete details.
Michal Buchel, CEO, FIAS, International Sambo Federation
11:00-11:10 SCENE SETTER: Preparing for the future
Updates on key developments in the areas of digital and social media, wearable devices, 3-D and VR content, drones, and more, and what it means for sport.
Craig Howe, CEO & Founder, Rebel Ventures
11:10-11:50 PANEL SESSION: Technology – Friend or Foe?
How much can we allow technology to dictate the direction of sport? Although innovation brings much excitement, enhanced information and accuracy, it can also mean additional threats to the security of personal data, and the integrity of sport itself.  How can we embrace beneficial technological change and meet generational expectations without losing the very essence of sport? 
MODERATOR: Charmaine Crooks, Olympic medalist and President, NGU Consultants
  • Jay Balmer, Co-Founder & COO, Session Games
  • Mariel de Haan, Head of Digital & Managing Director, Penceo
  • Craig Howe, CEO & Founder, Rebel Ventures
  • Alex Huot, Head of Social Media, IOC 
11:40-12:00 THE TECH CLINIC: Ask the experts
Your chance for an informal Q&A with two of the leading experts in social media, digital opportunities, and new technological innovations that are influencing the sports world.
  • Craig Howe, CEO & Founder, Rebel Ventures
  • Alex Huot, Head of Social Media, IOC 


Sport must learn from the mistakes of the past if it is to move on from the difficult headlines of the past year and flourish in the future, delegates were told in a fiery opening panel session of the Plenary Conference.
Tanja Frieden, the gold medal-winning snowboarder, set the tone for the discussion by challenging the theme of the session, ‘We’re All In It Together’, by bluntly insisting: “That is not the truth.” She said: “Athletes are not included in governance matters. I think there is a change happening, but I am pretty pessimistic – it could take 10 or 20 years.” David Haggerty, President of the International Tennis Federation, said that the “rules were not good enough” to protect the integrity of some sports in the past and challenged delegates at the Convention to “be diligent and ready”.

Debbie Jevans, Vice Chair, Sport England, insisted that although aspects of governance need to change, that does not mean that sport is intrinsically bad. 

Jaimie Fuller, Executive Chairman of SKINS and Co-founder of #NewFIFANow, said: “We should understand what transparency means. It is a lot to do with cultural issues. I would like the sports industry to wake up and I believe that leadership is going to come from the IOC.”

Thierry Borra, Global Director of Olympic Games Management at The Coca-Cola Company, said: “We have to be disruptive to stay relevant. We have to look again at how we engage fans.

The appeal of live sporting events was called into question as SportBusiness unveiled the outcome of research conducted ahead of SportAccord Convention. Ben Cronin, Editor of SportBusiness International, said the findings indicate growing doubt in mature sports markets including the US, the UK and Germany over the attraction of live sports event over such competition as cinema, theatre or concerts.

He challenged the industry to consider the difference between a customer and a fan, and the secrets to deeper fan engagement. Antonia Hagemann, Head, Supporters Direct Europe, said it was difficult to define the difference, but that it is an issue. She said: “They are different segments and must be treated differently. Most loyal fans feel they must have a say in the running of affairs of the club they support.”

Sandra Gage, Chief Marketing Officer, Canada Soccer, said there are different layers of fans when it comes to commitment and involvement, with sport therefore facing different levels of vulnerability. She said: “Competition is huge, so understanding your business environment and fan base is crucial.”

Gareth Capon, CEO, Grabyo, said social media has a part to play, but with strategy more important than spend. He said: “Loyalty in sport depends on the type of sport and location, and it is important to understand the needs of fans across different locations.”

The emerging world of e-Sports was discussed in detail during an enlightening session entitled ‘Pros vs. Amateurs – Gaming for Dummies’. In attendance were Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Future Media at the University of Salford; Alex Lim, Secretary General of the International e-Sports Federation; Patrick Nally, President of the International Federation of Poker; and BBC Sport Journalist Christopher Osborne.

The panel members agreed that there are common misconceptions about e-Sports. “We have a structure in e-Sports that requires physical fitness and endurance to play for a long duration,” Lim said. However, Osborne highlighted the “stigma” that surrounds e-Sports. Nally echoed the comments by adding: “There is a fear factor surrounding e-Sports as far as many people are concerned. We must remove those fears. E-Sports creates communities.” Nally added that traditional sports must make a greater effort to understand and engage with e-Sports. “If sports do not wake up to embrace e-Sports, then sports will have a tough road ahead,” he said.

Although Lim conceded that his Federation has not “worked greatly on integrity issues in the past”, he said: “(We) are a signatory member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in an effort to tackle doping issues in e-Sports.

Governments would be “very foolish” not to invest in sport, according to Robbert Nesselaar, Founder of the Generation Games grassroots sports event. Nesselaar was speaking on the ‘Hit the Road’ Plenary Conference panel session, which was also attended by The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities; Ian Logan, CEO of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, which will be staged in Lausanne; and Jennie Price, CEO of Sport England. 

Nesselaar emphasised the role sport can play in bringing society together. “Sport is immensely purposeful and is a glue in society,” he said. Qualtrough, who is also a former Paralympic athlete, agreed with Nesselaar and added that sport is “good for the economy and helps to address many social issues”. She said: “Sport is about the health of the nation, just as much as it is about the pride of the nation,” she said. “We need to strike a balance between participation and excellence.” 

Logan is hoping that the arrival of the Youth Games in 2020 can help to inspire the next generation. “In Switzerland, youth participation in sports is going down,” he said. “High-profile sports help youth participation and bring people together.” Price added: “The power of the digital community should encourage everyone to promote healthy lifestyle.”