I would like to begin by expressing how delighted I am with SportAccord 2019 being hosted in Gold Coast, Queensland just one year after staging a tremendously successful - and impactful - Commonwealth Games.
SportAccord is one of the best opportunities on the annual calendar to reconnect with people and forge new relationships with over 100 International Sports Federations in attendance. I have been fortunate enough to attend every SportAccord since 2003 and it always proves to be a phenomenal summit.
Hosting this prestigious event on the Gold Coast this year is already a tribute to what inevitably will be a successful legacy for the State of Queensland from the Commonwealth Games.
Through the planning and delivery stages of both Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) worked hard with Games Delivery Partners to ensure citizens and their communities embraced the principle that "legacy isn’t something that happens to you, it happens by you".
In essence, everyone within a community should have the opportunity to champion the positive benefits and impact of a major sporting event when peace, sustainability and prosperity are at its core.
The global sport industry is privileged to be in the business of creating some of people’s proudest moments both on and off the field of play - moments and memories that can transcend generations and endure a lifetime.
Queensland and the city of Gold Coast have done a fantastic job on focusing on the generation of positive impact and benefits enabled through the Games.
This continues Australia’s proud and rich history of hosting the Commonwealth Games and other major sporting events with a strong sense of purpose, pride and professionalism.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games are already being hailed to be providing significant boost to the State of Queensland, with the official Post Games Report revealing the event is estimated to have delivered a AUD$2.5 billion (£1.3 billion/$1.7 billion/€1.6 billion) regional economic boost, including AUD$1.8 million (£959,000/$1.2 million/€1.1 million) to the Gold Coast.
The report also showed that approximately 1.3 million visitors will be attracted to Queensland because of the Games being a catalyst for being awarded hosting rights to a number of major national and international events - such as SportAccord.
Gold Coast 2018 was coined by many as the "Games of Firsts" - first-ever medals for five Commonwealth small states and island states; a ground-breaking and first-of-its-kind Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), the largest fully inclusive Para-sports programme in Commonwealth Sport history and an equal number of medal events for women and men; at that time, another global first for sporting equality.
It was also the first Games where the Federation set a firm cap on the total number of athletes competing, with sports beginning to develop dedicated Commonwealth athlete pathway programmes that are helping us to meet a strategic aim towards generating greater affordability and appeal for the Games.
Through the RAP, Gold Coast 2018 took globally unprecedented steps to acknowledge, respect and support local indigenous communities - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The RAP ensured that over AUD$14 million (£7.5 million/$10 million/€9 million) worth of contracts and other revenue was secured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. It also provided more than 800 employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Over 15 Commonwealth nation’s brought representatives from their First Nations and indigenous communities to commemorate and celebrate these initiatives as part of Commonwealth wide conversation on indigenous truth and reconciliation through sport.
These accomplishments are a fantastic beginning to a story that will continue because Borobi, the loveable mascot of Gold Coast 2018, has now returned to the spotlight last month as an animated Indigenous language champion. The CGF is delighted to see Borobi back in action, continuing to support the Yugambeh Language Group in Queensland as part of their ongoing educational work and preservation and celebration of their culture and heritage.
Looking ahead to Birmingham 2022, our aim is to continue building on the Movement’s positive momentum.
We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to partner with the UK’s West Midlands region and work with the vibrant, rich and diverse communities around Birmingham to celebrate and reflect on the positive impact of Commonwealth Sport. Similar to other Games, Birmingham 2022 provides us with an ideal platform to ensure that the investments brought forward by the Games are fit for purpose - both world class and community relevant - and act as stimulus package for regeneration, social cohesion and economic diversification.
A Games needs to be run in the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons with the right people forging the right partnerships. We believe Birmingham 2022 has a fantastic opportunity to raise the bar further strengthening the Commonwealth Sports Movement and through the CGF Partnership model foreseen in Transformation 2022 these Games will see the evet undergo a recalibration in our approach to providing planning and delivery support and maximising benefit and exposure from Movement wide commercial rights.
The CGF Coordination Commission will visit Birmingham in June to check on planning progress and work with senior leadership across the delivery partnership to further align current activity with Movement-wide strategic priorities under Transformation 2022. There is a lot still to be done and we remain confident, but not complacent, on the success and positive impact of Birmingham 2022.
In closing, and on reflection of the success of Gold Coast 2018, I think it is critical to acknowledge that as the world of sport becomes more connected and better informed, we ensure that our ability to adapt to change moves with the times.
Athlete activism and empowerment is emerging like never before on issues concerning safeguarding, welfare, wellbeing, protection of human rights and the personal exploitation of intellectual property.
Sport Movements are continuously being challenged with getting the right balance between being athlete-centred and sport-focused; protecting the inspirational power and pathway opportunities afforded to athletes, but maintaining commercially viable and socially relevant events that appeal to the masses.
As we convene on the Gold Coast for SportAccord 2019 in the beautiful Australian State of Queensland; may we courageously reflect on our collective strengths and weaknesses and collaboratively seek to harness new opportunities that address the issues that threaten our legitimacy and offers a platform for realising the collective impact of sport by generating commercial and social value - shared value - for those we serve.