Host City Americas, the digital conference held last Wednesday (June 29) embraced its tagline “Where Events Meet Tech”, but many prominent speakers made clear that technology must be used only to leverage opportunities for humanity.
Technology made the virtual event possible as the world emerges from the cloak of the pandemic, but it was further emphasized by speakers that there is more change ahead.
“We need to think of AI and big data as a way to modernize our venues through infrastructure. But tech should be in service of our humanity. If it’s not helping us, why do we have it in the first place?” Abe Stein, Head of Innovation, Sports Innovation Lab said in the first panel labeled “Innovation, Technology and Sustainability in Major Events.”
“All data, starting at collecting, has perspective and position. We can get so excited about tech and data that we lose sight of ourselves.”
Other compelling topics included the rise of esports alongside traditional sport; diversity, equity and inclusion; media tech and sustainability and legacy.
“Legacy is more than a buzzword,” Tania Braga, Head of Olympic Games Impact and Legacy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
“It’s part of why hosts have the Olympic Games; it’s about creating lasting benefits for the people of the host territory and the sports movement.
“Legacy is a living thing – it keeps evolving. We can still find educational programs that exist many decades after the Games.”
Marcus Luer, CEO of Total Sports Asia had a different take on media tech telling his panel “I’m not sure media tech should be designed to meet the demands of fans, but the other way round. No one needed TikTok – we lived our lives without it, but someone designed it and it’s been hugely successful.”
Cindy Medynski, Director of Edmonton Events told her panel ‘Fostering Impact, Legacy and DEI Through Major Events’ that Alberta’s capital has the second highest indigenous population in Canada adding ”It’s important for them to be at the table from the beginning and for us to be educated on how to incorporate them.”
Secretary General of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Beng Choo Low commented on the future of esports, predicting that esports and traditional sports will not totally converge.
“You will reach a stage where esports is another discipline, like softball or baseball, as part of all the other so-called traditional sports. Yes, you’re online, but there’s also a physical element to it. Athletes like to meet not just online; there must be some physical interaction.”
The Youth Olympic Games generates its own change explained IOC’s Digital & Technology Commission member Babacar Djileh Dieng, “People say the YOG are the laboratory of the Olympic brand, but with every event you are trying to improve it. Every Games is the laboratory for the next one!”
Other prominent speakers in the day-long event included FIFA’s chief competitions and events officer Colin Smith, IOC member and LA28 board member Anita Defrantz and LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games COO John Harper – all with critical insight as the Americas are set to host both the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games later this decade.
Host City, the international version of this conference and exhibition, is scheduled to take place for the ninth time in Glasgow, Scotland from November 15-16, 2022.
Editor’s Note: GamesBids.com is a media partner with Host City Americas
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.