International Sports Federations go digital to showcase sports
International Sports Federations (IFs) are turning to the digital universe with creative ideas to keep sports action going, even during lockdown. From fun virtual competitions to competitive online tournaments and more, many sports are shifting to online arenas to showcase their sports and combat the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has caused to our normal everyday lives.
This week, for example, World Athletics organised the inaugural Ultimate Garden Clash – Pole Vault Edition. The contest saw former French Olympic gold medallist pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, Sweden’s world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and former World Champion Sam Kendricks from the United States go head-to-head from the comfort of their own back gardens. The challenge? To see which of these three all-time greats could successfully clear the most 5.00m vaults within a 30-minute period.
Despite the contestants being thousands of miles apart, the event was seamlessly livestreamed with all three athletes on screen simultaneously with live commentary, a message from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and light-hearted Q&As with the athletes. The event was truly a test of the qualities that these athletes must demonstrate on the world stage during competitions – determination, concentration and resilience. World Athletics also plans to organise future Ultimate Garden Clashes.
Several other IFs have also taken to the digital universe to create online competitions such as World Archery’s Lockdown Knockout 2020. The event consists of eight professional compound archers competing remotely in their home ranges to progress through the knockout brackets with women occupying one side, and men the other. Moreover, from the quarterfinals onwards, the event will be broadcast remotely and streamed live on World Archery’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) has developed an online competition called Laser Home Run which requires entrants to complete a series of exercises before hitting five targets with a laser pistol. The event, which will be divided into female and male categories across six age groups, reflects the UIPM’s fastest-growing development sport, laser-run, and is an innovative example of a progressive initiative aimed at making the sport more accessible.
In addition, where it has been possible to do so, some IFs have maintained international competitions via online platforms. For example, World Rowing recently announced that its 2021 World Rowing Indoor Championships on 27-28 February will be held as a virtual competition. The new format will allow anyone with access to a Concept2 static rowing machine to enter, no matter their location. In turn, this will facilitate the opening of international competitive indoor rowing to a wider-range of ability levels than just elite athletes.
Meanwhile, the International Chess Federation recently held the Online Nations Cup which ran from 5-10 May 2020. The tournament was broadcast across multiple streaming platforms including YouTube and Twitch, and featured competitive chess at the highest level for fans to enjoy from home. The International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP), a GAISF Observer, also recently announced that its own IFMP Nations Cup World Championship will also be contested online via its innovative gameplay software between 30-31 May 2020.
GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli said:
“Many of us have been missing live sport, but its current hiatus is absolutely necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire society. And yet, during this time it has been incredible to see how GAISF’s Members and Observers have continued to engage athletes, entertain fans worldwide and promote their sports to wider audiences.”