POSTED: November 10th 2009

Bid guru Mike Lee reveals winning blueprint for Rio and rugby

President Lula in tears after Rio's win in Copenhagen
President Lula in tears after Rio's win in Copenhagen

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Any city or country bidding for a major event – whether football, Olympic, commercial or cultural - should bear one crucial factor in mind.

That factor, according to London-based Mike Lee who guided Rio de Janeiro and rugby union to the 2016 Olympic Games, is: Never underestimate your opposition.

Lee, chairman of Verocom who was also a working winner with London 2012, set out a blueprint for bidding success in an address to a Sports Event Management conference in London.

He said: “The whole world now has become full of bids and you have to look at your competition. You have to understand what you are bringing to the event and never underestimate the opposition. Looking back to the 2012 bid we never underestimated our opposition and always looked to create unique selling points.”

Then he conceded: “Maybe, if Paris had done that it might have been a different story – if they had been alive and alert to the competitive nature of the race.”

Addressing the international constituencies was also, for Lee, a crucial factor. He said: “Of course you have to convince your own media but you have to think internationally because your own IOC members cannot vote until you are out.

“It’s a complex jigsaw of audiences – each member with their own personal agendas and aspirations. It’s a sports political chess game and you have to have a grasp of that or you are doomed to fail.”

Lee preached the importance of building the momentum of a campaign via the different formal ‘milestones’ of events and technical and administrative demands over the 18-month or two-year campaign.

He said: “You have to be flexible in the way you tune up and tone down the message along the way. A bid is not won or lost in first few weeks or last few days but gathering momentum towards the finishing line is important.

“Bids which fail to exploit the milestones, particularly when you are being compared with the competition, will find it difficult to achieve final victory.”

Lee stressed the importance of meeting the global perspective of the event organisers.

Referring to the 2016 cities presentations in Copenhagen he said: “When we heard one Chicago speaker say: ‘Vote Chicago, vote America,’ we thought: ‘Great! If that’s the best you can offer you are going to lose.’”

Lee assessed Chicago’s meagre 18-vote first-round exit as a “condemnation of their campaign and the problems between the USOC and the IOC.”

Lee revealed his nine campaign keynotes for Rio as having been: certainty of delivery, facing up to potential negatives, real leadership, political commitment, celebration of passion and transformation, an integrated bid team, historic choice, the opportunity provided by South America and the prospect of taking a decision which was bold but not risky.

He added: “The trick is how to apply these. You need the domestic and international media onside - work with them and keep the pack fed or they can get nasty. Then, understand the voters, whether it’s 115 or 24 – because if your bid is only about yourself then you won’t understand your voters and you won’t reach them.”

Keywords · Mike Lee · Verocom · Rio 2016 · London 2012 · Rugby · Olympic Games

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