‘I am a humble sports lover here to serve’: Raffaele Chiulli elected as new GAISF and SportAccord President in Gold Coast

Maria Pia Beltran, AIPS Media
LAUSANNE, May 27, 2019 – Over two days in Gold Coast, Australia, during the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit, which was held from 5 – 10 May 2019, Raffaele Chiulli was unanimously elected president of both GAISF and SportAccord.

In this interview with AIPS Media’s Maria Pia Beltran, Dr Chiulli, who is also President of UIM (International Powerboating Federation) and President of ARISF (Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations), expressed his strong zeal to serve.

Congratulations on being recently elected as GAISF and SportAccord President, how do you feel about your new role?

Thanks for the congratulations. I am  61 years old and still a sport lover and practitioner. I support F.C. Rome and I go to the stadium every chance I get. I have been practising several sports since my youth, and I still keep doing some. Sports nourish people’s feelings for contemporary issues like sustainability, social inclusion, tolerance and diversity, that’s why I am honoured and proud to serve and represent both GAISF and SportAccord.

Can you explain to us the differences between GAISF and SportAccord? 

I am very glad to be asked this question because there’s a lot of confusion about these two diverse entities. GAISF is the Global Association of International Sports Federations – it’s the umbrella organisation for all Olympic and non-Olympic International sports Federations (IF), sport-related international associations and organisers of multi-sports games. GAISF has in total 95 international sports federations governing their specific sports worldwide, 20 associate members (organisations with activities closely related to the international sports federations) and 10 observers for a total of 125 Members.

GAISF’s mission is to present a united voice of Sport in support of the Olympic ideals and of the Olympic movement and promote Sport at every level and in every corner of the world, from grassroots to elite.

SportAccord organizes the world sport and business summit (this year on the Gold Coast Australia, next year in Beijing, China) and it is focused on engaging and connecting IF’s, rights holders, organising committees, cities, press and media, businesses and other organisations involved in the development of sport.

SportAccord annually brings together representatives from more than 100 International Sports Federations combining exhibitions, themed conference programmes and a multitude of networking events. We are now launching the Regional SportAccord – the inaugural event will be held on 10-12 December at Fort Lauderdale, Florida – and we’ll organize another at the end of October of this year at the IF’s Forum in Lausanne.

You stepped in for Patrick Baumann after his tragic death back in 2018 and you asked for a minute’s silence in his memory at the opening of GAISF General Assembly.

Patrick’s special personality and charismatic leadership touched everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. He was a passionate sports leader. His contribution to the promotion and benefit of all sport is something we will continue to see and remember for many years to come. He inspired me and I think we were mentoring each other along our years of genuine friendship.

Dr. Raffaele Chiulli with the former GAISF leader Patrick Baumann, who passed on in 2018
Can you tell us more about the Multi-sport games?

GAISF has signed an MOU with the IOC and we have been given the task to organize, in full coordination with the IOC and other key stakeholders, multi-sport games (i.e. global sport disciplines) such as World Urban Games, World Combat Games, Mind Games, Artistic Games etc. The programme of the multi-sport games is coordinated with the IOC.

They are affordable, accessible and sustainable, for the host city, for the athletes and for the sport movement. The games have to be economically sustainable because they have to generate revenues to nurture the sport movement, socially sustainable by engaging and creating a true legacy – i.e. infrastructures – with the communities during and after the games, and environmentally sustainable – i.e.  circular economy, materials reuse and recycle, carbon neutrality, with an environmentally friendly approach to competitions and events. The games also allow people to fully explore and exploit newly available technologies in order to engage new generations of fans and athletes.

The inaugural edition of the World Urban Games will be held in Budapest on 13-15 September 2019, any foretaste?

GAISF was approached by almost 50 cities interested in hosting the games and, through a thorough selection process, the City of Budapest was finally chosen.

Budapest is an intensely developing city and the World Urban Games will be an excellent multi-sport event through which we can deliver a new sport festival to young people right in the heart of the City. Budapest has proved many times to be a great host city for major international sport events and it is the ideal city to launch a pioneering initiative that will positively impact the future of Sport.

The World Urban Games will inspire young people to play sport, demonstrating that sport can take place at your doorstep without expensive equipment and we will provide free entry at the festival of Sport where fans can get close to elite sport and try it themselves. There will be no impact on traffic with format affordable, accessible and sustainable for cities (sport, culture, dance, music, art exhibitions).

It will also be a great opportunity to rejuvenate the former industrial area called the big market and the games will leave a great legacy to the city and community.

100.000 people are expected to attend the 3 days event.

The World Urban Games is the ultimate celebration of new-generation sports forged by the spirit of youth. It is a showcase for the skill, style and power of the most inspirational urban athletes on the planet and comprises a wide-ranging programme of competitive and showcase urban sports complimented by a Festival of youth-focused music, art and culture.

The spirit of Urban Games is the spirit of the age; no compromise in the pursuit of perfection, creativity in performance, engagement with audiences and involvement through the opportunity to experience the various sports, respect for fellow competitors, and followers, global connectivity through digital technology, love of the lifestyle and care for the environment.

Can you tell us more abou The World Urban Games Sports programme?

The World Urban Games Sports Programme will consist of competition events, showcase events, and amateur and initiation sessions where the public and the youth can participate.

COMPETITION: Basketball: 3×3, Cycling: BMX Freestyle, Dance Sport: Breaking, Flying Disc: Freestyle Gymnastics: Parkour, Modern Pentathlon: Laser run, Orienteering: Sprint Orienteering

SHOWCASE:Two showcase events will also be present at the 2019 edition of the World Urban Games, Baseball & Softball: Baseball5, Rowing: Indoor Rowing

The aim of such a showcase programme is to promote sports/disciplines which are innovative and appealing to the youth and local population.

And what about the World Combat Games?

The Kazakhstan capital Nur-Sultan (former Astana) will host the inaugural World Combat Games in 2021. The announcement was made during the GAISF General Assembly in Gold Coast, Australia after GAISF and the Local Organising Committee signed the host city agreement.  Nur-Sultan was chosen to host the Games due to its modern facilities and the country’s passion for combat and martial arts sports. Combat sports and martial arts are extremely popular throughout Kazakhstan and it is sure to be a wonderful celebration of sport. Powered by GAISF, the World Combat Games are set to take place from 3-9 May 2021, bringing together the most exciting combat and martial arts sports athletes from all over the world. By hosting the Games, the organisers aim to further develop those sports and inspire the next generation of athletes. One year before the Games, the organisers will launch the World Combat Games Festival, which will incorporate all 14 regions of Kazakhstan, making it a country-wide celebration.

What was the theme of this year’s three-day Sports Festival?

We choose “United Through Youth” for 2019 Sports Festival: SportAccord delegates from all over the world were invited to celebrate sport with the young people of Australia. Over 60 IF took the opportunity to showcase their sport and create opportunities for local children to try a range of new activities.

The Sports Festival was a wonderful opportunity for IF to reach new audiences and connect with the youth of Australia.

The Sports Festival had many different zones, including the beach, the tatami, the ring and the urban zones. Local schools and youth clubs have tried out the sports, with special demonstrations and interactive presentations happening throughout the week. Our hosting cities pride themselves on promoting a highly active lifestyle among all residents and the involvement of children in activities that encourage them to participate in sport is a priority.

Sport participation begins at the early stage of education, at the grassroots level, and it is something we support wholeheartedly.

The United Through Sports Conference and Sports Festival has shown us the power of sport and I am sure that everyone has enjoyed themselves, from the children to the distinguished guests, with even His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon joining in the fun!

One of your challenges is to fit all these events within the international sports calendar. 

It is very important to coordinate the overall Sports Calendar and Sport Programmes for multi-sport events and we as GAISF, the IOC, ANOC, ASOIF have recently met and have started to discuss a framework for collaboration bearing in mind, as a priority, the well-being of the athletes, is often underestimated.

Do you think this is a new era for sports?

It is! And therefore it is important to continue stimulating changes in the Olympic Programme. GAISF can play a fundamental role in the process. In this regard, five IOC-recognised IFs  (ARISF) will be additional sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Four GAISF members and sport disciplines were selected as additional sports at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games and four GAISF member disciplines were selected as additional sports at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, subject to final IOC approval. Congratulations also go to our 4 members, the International Federation Icestocksport, the Federation Internationale de Sambo, Federation of International Lacrosse and World Association of Kickboxing Organizations who were granted provisional recognition by the IOC Executive Board. Their success is the result of hard work and underscores the benefits of the cooperation between GAISF, ARISF and AIMS.  For IFs, GAISF is today pivotal for obtaining IOC recognition.

What is your vision for the future of GAISF?

In my Work Programme, I have laid out the key actions, which largely reflect the views and concerns of GAISF Members and stakeholders, in summary here they are:   Keeping on working to serve and promote the common interests of its members with integrity and transparency Strengthening the role of GAISF as a services-based organisation, whilst continuing to increase good governance, acting as best practice for its members Leading this prestigious organisation towards its position among the world’s most respected sport governing bodies. Promoting and implementing youth development programmes and social responsibility initiatives as a cornerstone for the future. Sport provides education opportunities and has the power to unite in diversity, regardless of faith, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability. At the same time, it is critical that GAISF members prioritise their environmental efforts to ensure a more sustainable future.

Whilst I am loyal to the traditions, values and principles of GAISF, I also believe that we must be a modern and forward-thinking organisation. I believe GAISF can and should be a driving force in supporting IFs to achieve their goals. Today, we have new challenges to face; the choices we make will determine the future of our Association. By working together openly and in a collective spirit of good faith, we can and will succeed.

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