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Pressure from the 2008 Olympic Games

the aftermath

After the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing the elite sports will strike while the memory of the medals won is still vivid. This could have dramatic consequences for Sport for All, writes Mogens Kirkeby.

The Olympic Games consist of a two week long fight for medals in elite sports, but in the coming months the Olympic Games will put Sport for All under tremendous pressure. In many countries across the world the recent weeks’ hunt for Olympic medals will be transformed into a hunt for additional resources for elite sports and in many instances the consequences will be dramatic for Sport for All.

Most countries’ delegations in Beijing are prepared to strike while the memory of the medals won is still most vivid. Therefore, they will return from Beijing with a strong desire to demand more resources for elite sports.

Those countries that have not been able to live up to their own goals or to the nation’s expectations of medals will – greatly aided by the prevailing public sentiment – advocate for increasing the investments in future international medals.

Medals and more

Countries who fared successfully in terms of number of medals won and who return content from Beijing will put forth two kinds of arguments. First, that the price of international medals is soaring due to increased competition in general and the resulting need for more and more resource-demanding preparation and training.
Second, that the achieved national success in Beijing should be supported further, to award the sport federation and to ensure future international results.

The point is that, regardless of whether the individual countries failed or succeeded at the Olympic Games in Beijing, the organisations representing elite sports will put pressure on the politicians representing sports, and naturally many politicians will try to find additional resources for elite sports in order to avoid stagnation or decline.

Sport-for-All on the rise

In many countries there is a risk that we will not see more resources allocated to sports in total given the current situation marked by an economic downturn. The result is that resources will be taken from Sport for All and given to elite sports without taking into account the impact this will have on citizens’ access to sports at the local level and on the fight for better health for all.

During recent years Sport for All has otherwise had wind in its sails, particularly in Europe. In many European countries we have seen an increasingly sympathetic attitude at the political level towards arguments stating that it is the massive and broad participation in association-based sports with approximately 70 million members in Europe, which supports sports at the local level through volunteer leaders and trainers. It is precisely these association structures, where 95% of the participants do sports for reasons related to fun, health and social interaction, which can make a huge difference when it comes to tackling some of the biggest challenges that our societies are currently faced with.

The 2008 Olympic Games are over. The 10,000 participants have performed to the best of their ability. Millions of people have watched, but how many will themselves be motivated to take part in sports will be as difficult to document now as it has been in the past.

Large sports events have also been planned in 2009, and this time it is the turn of Sport for All.

In June 2009 one hundred thousand participants are meeting in Frankfurt am Main for a five day sports and cultural week at the German International Gymnastic Festival. A month later 25,000 participants will gather at the Danish Sport for All festival in the city of Holbaek, Denmark, and in August Copenhagen will host the 2009 Outgames, which expects 10,000 participants to this international sports and cultural meeting primarily for homosexuals. The three sports events, which are open to ordinary sports enthusiasts, will bring together around 135,000 participants – more than the total number of participants at all the Olympic Games from 1896 to Beijing 2008.

International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) is an association of 125 Sport for All organisations from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America.

Learn about the 2nd European Sport for All Congress at