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FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis: Chinese companies should be active commercial partners with international sports governing body

Thursday, 05 May 2016 18:00   |   By Yutang Sports

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During the 2016 SportAccord Convention, Yutang Sports, as the only media partner within mainland China, was able to interview FIS ( International Ski Federation) Secretary General Sarah Lewis. She shared her ideas on how China's winter sports industry will benifit from 2022 Winter Olympics and why Chinese companies should show they have the capacity to be able to be active commercial partners with international sport.

Yutang: What’s your opinion on how winter sports and ski can benefit from 2022 Olympic Games? How China can benefit from winter sports? 

Sara Lewis: Well, that’s no question both will benefit, absolutely. China has a long winter. It has a big appetite for winter sports. We’ve already seen that. And the president has given a very clear mandate that there will be 300 million new winter sports enthusiasts by 2020. And for sport itself it means there will be new participants and when it comes to from FIS perspective, we have most of the disciplines are recreational activities. So that means there’s gonna be more skiers out there and that’s good for the industry, both in china and globally. Equipment and traveling to visit other places. It’s been an experience of the sport.

Yutang: Can Olympic Winter Games help open winter sports to broader population in china?

Sara Lewis: I wouldn’t be able to tell you definitively. Because that experience is not yet there.But in principle that would be the goal.Let me be clear the focus in china will be on, first of all, the regions that involve with the Games. 

Yutang: How can winter sports federation like FIS to help China develop winter sports?

Sara Lewis: Of course we’re working very closely together. We support them, being there to advise, assist and facilitate contact with experts. Obvious the main focus of our collaboration is related to the competition activities.Preparing for the games and getting ready for the games. When it comes to actually developing ski resorts for recreational Skiing, then they were well  already on track with that. There were already a lot of resorts now.

Yutang: Talking about next generation, do you think will the Chinese next generation be more prepared to reach the elite level? 

Sara Lewis: Until now most of FIS disciplines haven’t been developed yet other than some freestyle events and some snowboard events. There is clearly a big commitment to do so, in the view of Beijing 2022. To be able to use this as a platform to actually develop in the big sport like alpine skiing, cross country skiing. Then also Chinese are really perfect built to be successful for ski jumping as well.

Yutang: Outside of Olympic Games, do you think there are opportunities to engage fans?

Sara Lewis: Of course, that’s all love of the world. We already have a pretty strong online presence. But we’ll launch the App for the next season ,certainly. But we are heading to Olympic 2022, where I can imagine there would be Chinese specific elements in the App.

Yutang: Are there any action in line with Olympic Agenda 2020 that can be done now for Beijing 2022?

Sara Lewis: Obviously ,we work very closely with IOC in terms of... just like the same way for the Tokyo 2020. To review the elements of the project whether there are opportunities to be able to adapt the elements to be... in line with ,yeah ,aspects of the agenda 2020, which might not have being part of thought process when the bit was put together.  

Yutang: Many grassroots organizations and event organizers rush into winter sports. And can you analyze the commercial side for them?

Sara Lewis: They are different. They are coming under different segments. Recreational skier and sponsor are not connected when it comes to in terms of business potential. Recreational skiers is what develops and drives tourism. Hotels, traveling, ski equipment and everything to be able to get onto the slopes and skiers have a great experience. If a sponsor is not involved in the recreational skier, then a sponsor would be involved in events, supporting an organizer’s event.

Opportunities for sponsors are exposure when you get to international, major events, then is global exposure. For an event organizer, it’s a chance to promote their resorts if they are actually coming from the resorts. Let’s say for organizer’s sake, an event is marketed by the resorts. The main goal is actually to promote the resorts to get its name on wider fields, whether perhaps only in china, whether perhaps in Asia, and perhaps globally. That’s the difference of the segments.

Yutang: Does FIS want to get any commercial benefit from the Chinese market?

Sara Lewis: Absolutely, China would be a very logical partner when it comes to sponsoring and brand building. I would say the coverage for Chinese companies who are in ski sport business and winter sport business. They have a chance to authenticate themselves by being associated with international governing body. Yes there is an opportunity to be involved. Until now there hasn’t  been any inquiries, but we anticipate more. Chinese companies should also show they have the capacity to be able to be active commercial partners with international sport. In addition, companies have a common responsibility to help develop it.  

Yutang: If a company wants to be a sponsor and wants to be associated with winter sports or ski, would you have some...

Sara Lewis: I’ll talking on Facebook, because it’s not a common organization. The association is a loose association , just for collaboration purposes. But we don’t have any shared rights. 

Yutang: For FIS, what values are you looking for in the company who want to sponsor ski?

Sara Lewis: It depends what aspects to, you know, we have 6 different disciplines all with rather different profiles. Not only sponsoring the disciplines, but there are also opportunities for partnerships within the organization. There are events and other type of services. It can be very specific ,tailor-made.Opportunities are rather extensive , not only about a banner on a course. There is also product.There is also digital...very different opportunities. Some of them are bundled, some not. There is a young approach to be able to find solutions.

Yutang: What kind of image do you think the companies could get when they are associated with..

Sara Lewis: International exposure, authenticity in terms of their association with international governing body. 

Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis has been involved with skiing on both a competitive and administrative level for over 30 years.  Sarah Lewis began working for FIS in 1994 and for four years served as Co-ordinator for the Continental Cups covering the series in Europe, North America, Far East, South America and Australia New Zealand. She became FIS Director in 1998, before being appointed Secretary General by the FIS Council at its meeting in Melbourne in 2000.

Tags: SportAccord Convention,sports sponsorship,sports marketing,sports business

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