POSTED: November 7th 2016

DR ERIC C SCHWARZ 2024 Olympic Bid cities plan for reaching out to the millennial generation

Budapest has hosted the Urban Games for the youth © Bigstock
Budapest has hosted the Urban Games for the youth © Bigstock

Los Angeles is betting on eSports © Bigstock
Los Angeles is betting on eSports © Bigstock

Paris is working on the 'Year of Olympism' in schools © Bigstock
Paris is working on the 'Year of Olympism' in schools © Bigstock

THE DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ COLUMN in MELBOURNE / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) With the average age of individuals watching the 2016 Rio Olympics being 48 years old (down from 52 after London 2012), it is apparent that younger people are watching the Olympic Games more and more.  This may be as a result of the millennial generation being engaged by the Olympic Movement through social, digital and mobile media.  As the trend of the age of spectators and viewers trending towards a more youthful audience, what are the bids doing to understand how to best reach the millennial generation to attract this demographic? 

Recently, LA2024 announced they were pledging to integrate the popularity and technology of eSports to connect youth to the Olympics.  This was in response to Los Angeles hosting the 2016 League of Legends World Championship Finals that took place at a sold-out Staples Center (21,000 spectators). 

According to LA2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman "We view eSport's immense global popularity and continued advances in digital technologies as tremendous tools for reconnecting Millennials with the Olympic Movement, [and] the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles... would enable the IOC to stay at the cutting edge of digital youth engagement."  He added that "there are 100 million young people in the United States along and we regard hosting the summer Games for the first time in a generation as a unique opportunity to increase their enthusiasm for and participation in sport [by] harnessing the power of new technologies like virtual and augmented reality to promote healthy lifestyles... creating a new Games for a new era in 2024."

Paris 2024 recently launched their new program 'Year of Olympism' in schools across France.  This initiative will be across all levels of education from primary school to university-level.  The goal of this initiative is to raise the awareness and sharing the values of Olympism and driving participation in sport among young people.  According to Tony Estanguet, Co-Chairman of Paris 2024, "we have a unique opportunity to return Olympism to the heart of Paris and France and make it central to the lives of our citizens [through] this fantastic initiative that will enable young people to learn more about Olympic history and play more school sport."  Paris 2024 Co-Chairman Bernard Lapasset added "we are committed to sharing further the spirit of Olympism in the city where Pierre de Coubertin first imagined a better world through sport, [and] it is important that young people are taught about this heritage to ensure that it lives on and thrives in our society."

Budapest 2024 has also embraced the need to connect with more youthful demographics.  Recently, the city hosted an Urban Games featuring five sports - cycling, table tennis, four-a-side football, running and longboarding - aimed primarily at youngsters, with professionals and amateurs expected to compete across the various sports.   Their goal in hosting this event was aimed at generating interest and excited for the bid by the youth of Budapest.  Budapest 2024 bid chairman Balázs Fürjes, explained that "this event as one of many initiatives that will be a legacy of our bid, whatever the outcome of the vote, rather than being linked to any milestone in particular... we are starting with sports that inspire real grassroots excitement in the city."  In addition, Gyor, one of the regional cities near Budapest where Olympic events are planned to be held, will host the European Youth Olympic Festival in July 2017 - less than 60 days from the final vote at the Olympic Session in Lima, Peru.

Every year at the closing ceremonies, the IOC President says "I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now... to celebrate the Games."  It seems the bid committees for the 2024 Summer Olympics are taking this to heart focusing beyond the participants but also to spectators and media viewers.

**DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ is a tenured Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. He has been an academician for 15 years in the areas of sport business management, international tourism, and hospitality management - with special focus on the areas of sport marketing, sport finance, tourism, and facility/event management. He speaks globally and is the author of numerous publications in these areas, as well as been actively involved in consulting projects working with a multitude of sport and community organizations ranging from grassroots efforts to hallmark events.  

Keywords · Olympics · 2024 Games · Budapest · Los Angels · Paris

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