Olympic festivals - Key principles
The Olympic Festivals concept is simple. It is defined by the combination of a number of specific activities and by its timing. Therefore, if you want to organise an Olympic Festival, its programme and set-up have to offer the right combination of activities and facilities taking into account the key principles outlined below.
- Promote Olympic values and the spirit of the Olympic Games
- Ensure a live broadcast of the Olympic Games
- Propose a wide variety of sports and Olympic-themed educational activities
- Celebrate Olympians and their successes by creating a bridge between them and their fans
For more information check the “Olympic Festival” page.
Tips and tricks
Working with sport clubs and federations
The involvement of sport clubs and federations is crucial for the success of your Olympic Festival
- Sport organisations guarantee a high standard and quality of the activities (qualified staff, sport facilities etc.). They provide the needed “quality label” which is important not only from the production point of view, but also from the marketing and communications perspective.
- They can bring high-level competitions and competitors to the Olympic Festival.
- They are in close touch with Olympians and with other high-level athletes and can give you easier access to them (also when it comes to non-Olympic sports).
- While taking into account the organisation of the sport sector in your country, consider involving both Olympic and non-Olympic federations in your event, and including both summer and winter sports regardless of the edition in the programme (summer sports can be presented during winter edition and vice versa).
Olympic Festivals 2018
Even though major sports need not perceive the Festival as a unique opportunity to present themselves (they are capable of organising their own big recruitment events), smaller sports, such as figure skating (in the context of the Czech Republic) welcomed the Festival as a principal platform for presentation and even recruitment of new members.
Source: Pilot Comparative Study of the OFs 2018
Getting federations/clubs on board
- Get in touch with federations and clubs very early in the preparation process, and organise bilateral or common meetings to explain the concept of the event and possible forms of cooperation.
- The advantage of organising a common meeting is the possible creation of a “peer pressure” between federations to “do better than the others”, as well as provision of a platform for brainstorming.
- In most cases, it is suggested that you first approach national federations, which will then contact their regional bodies and clubs.
- Try to match your offer with their long-term needs and planning.
- Provide them with good arguments (see the box below).
What is in it for sport clubs and federations?
Promotion – significant outreach potential
- Great possibility to promote their sport, as well as planned activities and events. If they organised their own events separately, they would in all likelihood not be able to reach as many people (= mainly small sports).
- Possibility to enhance the visibility and offer of the local clubs.
- Enhanced media attention.
Increase the number of their members
- Possibility to provide information about their activities directly to a large number of people, especially to families with children.
- Good opportunity to scout for talents and directly engage with them.
- Opportunity to gather participants’ data and create/improve contact databases (bear in mind the new EU General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR).
Decrease the number of drop-outs
Enhance the relationship with (former) top level athletes
- Offer to former high-level athletes the opportunity to get more involved in their activities and to enhance their public profile – debates with fans, trainings with other personalities etc.
- Create a closer tie to athletes and their entourage and thus increase the possibility of their involvement in other (promo/sport-for-all) events organised by the federation/club.
Rio House 2016
How does the Flemish Judo Federation evaluate its participation to the Rio House and what tips does it have for other sport organisations?
Management and cooperation
- Manager of sport activities should be a member of the Organising Committee. He/she should coordinate with the representatives of the participating federations/clubs all the activities in such a way that they are linked to the ongoing Olympic Games programme, are well-balanced over the duration of the OF, and provide a range of options for all age categories.
- Task, responsibilities and financial matters have to be clarified at the very beginning.
|NOC’s tasks||Federations’/clubs’ tasks|
The Belgian NOC provided a small financial (the same amount) to each federation (mainly for HR costs) + another small amount to cover some logistics-related
The Czech NOC provided a small financial contribution to participating federations. Budget covered personal costs (instructors), as well as, in some case, sport equipment and logistics.
Cooperation with other stakeholders
- At the initiative of the given federation/sponsor/partner or at the suggestion of the NOC, common activities can be organised. For more information, see the Marketing chapter. These should be well-balanced, take into account the programme of the OF and draw on the potential of both parties.
- Cooperation with schools and other non-commercial subjects is recommended.
Risk factors – what should participating federations/clubs keep in mind
- Possibly large differences in attendance (bad vs. good weather, week vs. weekend etc.).
- Developments at the Olympic Games → if the National Team of your country is in the Finals, you can expect a much bigger audience.
- (Olympic) Sports federations need to take into account that most of their staff will be at the Game’s location and/or will be working on Games-related matters at home (e.g. communications department). Suggest to the federations that hiring an external team could help them maximise their “return on investment” in terms of their participation to the Olympic Festival.
Working with Olympians participating to the ongoing Olympic Games
- Inform the athletes’ respective federations, but communicate with them and their entourage directly.
- Discuss with them their possible participation to the Olympic Festival well in advance. Present it to them as “an extension of their participation to the Olympics.”
- Prepare attractive activities for them, including an official welcome etc. For more information see the Ideas and good practices section.
- Consider involving your National club of Olympians in the activities at the Olympic Festival.
- Try to involve them in your communications campaign (start promoting their participation to the OF as soon as you they confirm). For more information see the Communications chapter.
Online reservation systems for activities
- Applicable mainly to activities in which only a limited number of participants can take part
- Easier planning for participants.
- Possibility to adjust the programme based on participants’ preferences – both at the level of a single sport activity and of the whole OF (coordinated by the Sport programme manager).
- Interesting participation data can be collected – good feedback for federations, partners and the NOC.
- Easy management of payment for possible paid activities.
- Possibility to easily reserve time slots for partners/sponsors/ schools etc.
- Possibility to include an authorisation/permissions section where visitors can provide you with their consent on the processing of their personal information/consent to the use of pictures/consent to insurance-related clauses.
- Focus on “users’ comfort”.
- Easily accessible (on the landing page of the website of your OF) and easy to use for participants.
- Easy administration – organisers of sport activities should be able to have an access to the data which they should also be able to extract and use for statistical purposes.
- Focus on “users’ comfort”.
- Integrate a payment gateway in the registration system.
- Consider introducing deadlines for the booking of activities (e.g. registration closes 24h before the scheduled time of the activity).
Information tools – enhancing participants’ experience
Olympic Park Sochi-Letna 2014
Partner of the Czech NOC, T-Mobile, paid for the development of the Olympic Park app, which gave free access to the Park to all people who downloaded it and it also contained all the necessary information.
- It is very important to provide participants with all the necessary programme- and activities-related information in an easily accessible way and on different platforms.
- It is recommended that you set up a general info point/stand at the Olympic Festival venue providing information and help to visitors (the stand can also serve, for example, as a “lost and found” centre).
- Consider having an Olympic Festival app developed and/or negotiate with partners the adjustment and use of their existing apps to increase visitors’ experience and to contribute to environmental sustainability of your event (less papers necessary).
- Make an appropriate use of the LED screens to display programme- and activities-related information.
- Should you decide to publish and distribute an Olympic Festival newspaper at your event, you can make use of it to share any import information with the visitors. For more information, see the Communications chapter.
Ideas and good practices
Olympic Festivals 2018
As the experience from all the three countries [CZ, FR, SL] shows, visitors welcome a balanced mixture of presented activities. They like popular sports such as skating or cross-country skiing with an opportunity to practice them together, as well as less known disciplines in which curling plays the major role. Furthermore, all the main target groups should be taken into account regarding the offer of activities. A major focus on children may sometimes lead to decreased activity of adults. Thus, some disciplines can be divided into separated sporting sites that would aim at children and adults or experienced users.
Source: Pilot Comparative Study of the OFs 2018
- Present to visitors the history, rules, necessary sport equipment, as well as practice opportunities of all the sports represented at the venue (do not presume that people know anything about the given sport).
- Present the sports at the highest possible level – shows and trainings with high level athletes, top coaches, tournaments, discussions etc.
- Offer a large variety of sport activities so that everyone can participate regardless of age, psychical or mental capacities, or interest in sport. A large choice and variety of activities is key to the success of your Olympic Festival.
- Organisers of sport activities should have the necessary equipment available for participants (consider offering renting possibilities to visitors– see the Resources chapter).
- All activities should be supervised, and led by, active athletes, coaches and instructors who can provide participants with the right guidance.
- Consider using a system of “Game cards” to encourage visitors to try as many sport activities as possible.
- Visitors will receive a stamp/sticker for each activity they will try. Upon completion of the minimum number of required activities, they will receive a little gift.
- Thanks to this system, you can also collect valuable data about the visitors (which activities were the most popular, where the visitors came from, their age etc.).
- Consider negotiating with your partners their direct involvement in the production of the Cards and/or in providing gifts/reward for participants.
- If you have any paid activities in your Olympic Festival, either do not make them part of such a system, or provide visitors with a special offer where they can participate in the given activity for free.
General sport offer
- Testing of sport activities led by athletes and coaches.
- “Free play and sport activities without supervision (renting a court, skating on an ice-path etc.).
- Group trainings and lessons.
- Activities with top-level athletes and coaches.
- Show contests
- Trainings for visitors led by them
- Use these activities also as a “meet and greet” opportunity for fans.
- Skills tests.
- Theme days.
Sport activities with Olympians and sport legends
Group Trainings and Tournaments
Individual sports and testing
- Work together with your national Paralympic Committee on the inclusion of para sports in your Olympic Festival.
- Offer the visitors the possibility to try out these sports. Do not forget to include high-level show competitions on the programme as well.
Olympic Park Sochi-Letna 2014, Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava 2018
In both the 2014 and 2018 edition, the Czech NOC in cooperation with the Czech Paralympic Committee organised 1-2 days dedicated to para-sports: the visitors could see and try out, for example, cross country skiing for the visually-impaired, sound shooting, curling, figure skating for the disabled, or sledge-hockey.
Rio House 2016
During the closing ceremony, an official hand over of the Olympic flame from Bronze Judo Medallist (Rio) Dirk Van Tichelt to Paralympic Tennis player Joachim Gérard was organised. It was accompanied by an artistic intermezzo (a fusion of classical dance and Paralympic sports).
Activities for, and with, schools
Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava 2018
Schools from across the host cities and regions were invited to attend the Olympic Festivals. From Monday to Friday between 8.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. school groups could take part in organised activities. Up to 230 pupils were hosted at each Festival location every day and the children were split up into smaller groups of 15 to get the most out of the experience.
Every school that signed up for the programme received an information pack before arriving at the venue, detailing transport arrangements and the timetable for the day. Water, tea and yoghurt were offered to participating children.
- Adapt the above activities to organised visits of schools.
- Make sure that you reserve specific time slots for these visits as to provide sufficient space and time at the venues as well as the necessary human resources.
- Ensure that the children have a chance to try out as many sport and education activities as possible.
- If possible, include a meeting with a coach/elite athlete in the programme.
- If you plan on having paid sport equipment rental service at your Festival, negotiate special deals for participating schools with the provider.
Activities during school holidays
- Together with sport clubs and/or local authorities and NGOs, consider organising (sport camps) for children at your OF. These can take various forms such as day camps or week-long overnight stay camps.
- A special support could be, for example, provided to low-income families or children with physical or mental impairment.
- See the section below for tips on Olympic values activities for schools.
Olympic values and Olympic Games-related activities
- Olympic values education and the connection of the Olympic Festival to the Olympic Games are core elements of each OF.
- Promote Olympic values with concrete activities.
- Bring the (ongoing) Olympic Games closer to the visitors – make them feel as if they were taking part.
- Celebrate the athletes and their successes and enhance the fan experience.
- Olympic (values) education
- Get inspiration from the Olympic Days.
- Make use of the IOC Olympic Values Education Programme Toolkit and of the educational content provided by the Olympic Channel.
- Create and/or use existing formats and tools such as: games, quizzes and competitions, exhibitions, discussions with (former) athletes and coaches etc.
- Involve your Olympic Academy, Fair Play commission, and National Anti-Doping Agency in designing the activities.
- Consider involving local universities or NGOs in the design and execution of the activities.
- Link your long-term educational programmes (especially those in schools) to the activities at you Olympic Festival.
- Use the opportunity of the OF to educate/inform the visitors about your programmes and activities aimed to prevent and fight negative phenomena in sport such as doping, match-fixing, or harassment and abuse.
Olympic Experience 2016 – Olympic Road
The Olympic education programme – Olympic Road – was one of the core activities of the Olympic Experience. Building on its long-standing expertise in the area, the Dutch NOC organised an educational “road” upon the completion of which participating children were rewarded with a medal.
Olympic Festival Grenoble 2018 – Olympic Values
Prior to the Pyeongchang Games, local schools together with the local Departmental Olympic Committee prepared and organised an Olympic Education Programme where children learnt about Olympic sports, athletes, foreign countries, Olympic values and the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic values activities at the OF (quiz about the history of the Olympic movement and drawing contest) then helped the children to get further acquainted with the Olympic movement in an active and fun way.
For details see the attached description.
- Opening and closing ceremony of the Olympic Festival
- Draw inspiration for the programme from the official Olympic Games protocol.
- Involve Olympians as well as visitors (children and schools) in the programme – e.g. schools can organise a parade prior to the ceremony.
- Reflect the culture of the host city of the Olympics in the set-up and programme of your ceremonies.
- Consider using the occasion also for fundraising purposes and/or for providing special services to sponsors/partners.
- Welcome of athletes returning from the Games
- Appoint a coordinator in your team who would take care of all matters related to the welcome of the Olympians.
- Do your best to ensure that returning athletes have a chance to meet the public as well as sponsors and partners. Bear in mind that you most likely will not succeed with all the Olympians (distance from the Games’ location, subsequent competition programme of the athletes etc.).
- Discuss this possibility with the athletes, their entourage and federations and provide them with all the necessary details prior to their departure to the Games. Make sure that your colleagues at the Games’ location know about this initiative and give them the task of reminding the returning athletes about the Olympic Festival’s activities.
- Make sure that the medallists are not completely taken over by the sponsors/partners, but do ensure that the respective stakeholders get their chance to meet them.
- Depending on the set-up of your OF and available resources, consider various options from the presentation of the athletes onstage to more spectacular (and costly) options such as cooperating with the armed forces on their transport by helicopters directly from the airport to the OF venue (Olympic Park Rio-Lipno 2016).
- Pay a close attention to the length and timing of the activity/event → bear in mind that the athletes will be tired.
Olympic Park Rio-Lipno 2016
Returning Olympians were divided into several groups with the most successful athletes spread evenly across the groups to ensure that together with them all the other Olympians got the visibility that they deserve.
Sponsors/Partners got a limited exclusive time with each of the groups, so that the public could then enjoy the presence of the athletes without them having to run from one interview to another.
Live broadcast of the Olympics
- Live broadcast of the Games makes the Olympic Festival unique compared to other sport events for the general public.
- It is a very important element of any OF, however, the programme should not rely on it entirely.
- Attractiveness of live broadcast will depend on the participation and successes of your National Team.
- Be mindful of the possible time difference between the venue of the Olympics and your country.
- Weather will also play an important role in case of outdoor venues (especially in winter editions).
- Accompany the programme with live interviews with experts and famous athletes onstage.
- Provide participants with exclusive material which people cannot see on TV – e.g. greetings from the Olympians from the location of the Games (live link-up). Link to the first part of the ORG chapter - AV
- Focus on national Olympic hopefuls and heroes, but do not forget about a local dimension either (involve athletes from the host region as they may be more attractive for the visitors).
Sport competitions, championships and show contests
- Together with participating sport federations, identify opportunities to organise high-level competitions and show games/contest at the Olympic Festival.
- A win-win for both sides
- Possible logistical support to the given federation by the NOC.
- More spectators and visibility especially for junior competitions and small sports.
- Opportunity to promote Paralympic sports.
- Great added value for participants.
- A very attractive element of the programme.
- Opportunity to enhance cooperation with partners/sponsors.
- Keep the broadcast programme of the Olympics in mind when scheduling the activities.
- Use your communications channels, in particular social media, to promote the activities.
Olympic Experience 2016
- National championships: beach volleyball, beach rugby, beach tennis, beach korfball
- FIBA Challenger: Basketball 3x3
- Races/contests: archery, swimming, triathlon
- Show: judo, combat sports, sailing
Cultural and entertainment activities
- To support and promote the ancient Greek philosophy of kalokagathia – harmonic combination of beauty and goodness – or the one of “sound mind in a sound body.”
- To complement the sport and education programme with high-quality activities to make it even more attractive.
- Cultural programme manager should be a member of the Organising committee. He/she should have a sound experience in production and execution of cultural activities.
- Study your “market” before you decide to invest in high-costs activities (e.g. engaging popular artists and bands).
Olympic Experience 2016
Large-scale concerts were organised in cooperation with sponsors.
They attracted a lot of visitors and were very popular.
Olympic Park Rio Lipno 2016
The large-scale music production (famous Czech bands) was not as popular with the visitors as expected.
- Draw inspiration for the cultural programme (or its part) from the culture of the host country of the Olympics (cooperate with the respective embassies and cultural institutes etc.).
- Provide a mix of local entertainment and national artists (e.g. piano playing and concerts).
- Involve local staff in the programming and production.
- Cooperate with the participating federations on involving sport legends and high-level athletes in the programme (do not forget about summer sport athletes when you organise a winter edition and the other way around).
- Cultural activities for children should be at the core of your programme.
- Try to find synergies with sponsors. For more information, see the Marketing chapter
- Public music production (e.g. public piano installations).
- (Photo) exhibitions.
- Meet and greet with sport legends and elite athletes, performance on the stage.
- Educational activities (other than Olympics-values related)
- E.g. environmental issues, road safety, healthy nutrition etc.
- Discuss ideas for possible cooperation with the relevant commissions and bodies of your NOC, local authorities and public services, universities, local NGOs etc.
- For more information, see the Marketing chapter.
- Presentation of the host country of the Olympic Games.
- Presentation of the host city/region (local traditions such as dances, theatre pieces, food or food and beverages).
Olympic Festival Ostrava 2018 – Korean Village
At the initiative of the host city, a “Korean Village” was installed in the centre of Ostrava. It showcased Korean culture, products and cuisine. It was highly appreciated not only by the Korean community in the region, but also by other citizens of Ostrava and visitors to the Olympic Festival.
Fun activities with athletes
Host country of the Olympic Games
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