The first SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit was hosted twenty years ago, in May 2003 in Madrid’s Palacio Municipal de Congresos.

Supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the Association of Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) and other international federations, it was the first international sport convention which brought together all key sport industry decision makers. The event provided the international federations with a platform to share best practice and in the words of a frequent attendee, James Carr, Deputy Executive Director of ASOIFthe opportunity to have a years’ worth of meetings in one week”.

SportAccord was not only about meetings, but also offered exhibition space for companies involved in the business of sport as well as a conference with expert speakers and interactive workshops.

Today, the SportAccord Summit is a week-long event and is the only place where all international sport federations and the International Olympic Committee meet. Other attendees include rights holders, service providers, media, organising committees and key players from the sports industry. The SportAccord Summit includes a themed conference program, world-class guest speakers, cultural activities and unrivalled networking opportunities among approximately 1,500 delegates.

As well as the direct economic impact of hosting the SportAccord Summit, host cities typically integrate the event into their major events hosting strategy. Peter Hunt, Acting Group Executive, Events and Experiences, Tourism and Events Queensland said:

“ Hosting SportAccord in 2019 following the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games strengthened awareness of Queensland as a world class event host among senior decision-makers in world sport. We now have the direct relationships and active discussions to progress our sports event hosting strategy for years to come. Additionally, the event played a key part in our journey in securing the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

In addition to the Sport Accord Summit, SportAccord organises an annual International Federation (IF) Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IF Forum is a three-day event offering sessions which are specifically designed to offer considerable value to the International Sport Federations in attendance. The IF Forum is an exclusive, invite-only event consisting of International Sport Federations, speakers and official IF Forum partners.

The next IF Forum will be held from 13-15 November, 2023 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Reflecting on 20 years, SportAccord president, Ivo Ferrani, said:

“ I am proud to lead an organisation which started with a meaningful vision in 2003 which is still significantly contributing positively to the sport industry 20 years later. The concept of gathering all major figures of world sport under one roof for one week to allow an exchange of ideas is magnificent.

One of my highlights is from the Gold Coast 2019 summit, where H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) and the Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission, gave a powerful address about the unique power of sport emphasising how sport can be used to foster harmony, peace, reconciliation and friendships.

H.E. Ban Ki moon described SportAccord as something like the United Nations of Sport which was a convincing and memorable analogy.”

A look back at the SportAccord host countries

Since 2003, the SportAccord Summit has been hosted in 15 countries:  Spain (2003), Switzerland (2004 and 2016), Germany (2005), South Korea (2006), China (2007), Greece (2008), the United States of America (2009), the United Arab Emirates (2010), the United Kingdom (2011), Canada (2012), Russia (2013 and 2015), Turkey (2014), Denmark (2017), Thailand (2018) and most recently in the Gold Coast, Australia in 2019.

Over the years, the SportAccord Summit has focused on a range of topical themes aimed at providing IF leaders with valuable insights and knowledge they can apply to their federations, which have helped foster positive outcomes across the global sport industry. From sustainability to governance to data and analytics to technology, the SportAccord Summit has consistently covered innovative subjects which are targeted and relevant to the delegates in attendance.

What makes the SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit unique?

The SportAccord Summit is the world’s premier and most exclusive event at the service of sport and is the only place where you can meet all international sport federations. Our event is dedicated to engaging and connecting stakeholders from international sport federations, organising committees, media, athletes, sport businesses and more with a core objective to drive positive change in the world of sport.

Our event is often host to world class speakers. Some of our previous high-profile speakers include:

  • Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general, United Nations;
  • Charlie Denson, former nike president;
  • Sir Martin Sorrell, former ceo, WPP;
  • Ted Turner, founder at CNN, and
  • Andre Agassi, former world number one tennis professional and Olympic gold medallist.

Reflecting on 20 years of SportAccord, David Eades (former BBC news anchor), who has been master of ceremonies at several SportAccord Summits said:

” My first SportAccord was in London 2011. The hall was packed, expectations were high…and Lord Sebastian Coe, among others delivered a memorable keynote speech with anecdotal gems ahead  of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Only SportAccord could provide such a natural venue for critical host city presentations, which brought fevered coverage from journalists worldwide.  I have rarely felt more nervous than being asked to stand in as master of ceremonies for the penultimate presentations of Tokyo, Madrid, Istanbul and Rome.

SportAccord allows different sports leaders to speak freely and openly.  The event enables people to speak their mind, while holding on to the true value of working together for the common cause of sport.

The Summit has created a world where lovers of the sports world come together to share experiences, build friendships, partnerships and discuss potential business opportunities.

SportAccord really is where sport meets”.

What is next for SportAccord?

In spring 2024, the SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit will be reinstated with renewed strength and energy, with a new host city set to be announced soon.

Additionally, as the umbrella bodies; the Association of IOC Recognised International Sport Federations (ARISF) and the Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS) are now firmly part of SportAccord, SportAccord is moving forward as a more inclusive family. We are excited about the collaboration opportunities this offers with ARISF, AIMS and their member federations which will ensure our events continue to be significant and memorable.

Final thoughts from a regular SportAccord attendee

Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), has attended every SportAccord Summit over the last 20 years. When asked to reflect, Francesco said:

“ It has been an absolute privilege to attend the SportAccord Summit over the years and it has been wonderful to see the Summit grow spectacularly year on year since its inception by Hein Verbruggen (SportAccord president 2004-2013). Hein was a visionary and saw the value in providing a platform to bring all the IFs, together with the IOC for meetings, discussions and exchanges. He lived for sport and through his work with SportAccord, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) he understood the complexities of sports governance in a fast-changing world.”

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