It is hard to believe that it has been four years since you elected me as President of this great organization called the Canadian Olympic Committee.
I am proud to have served you since 2009, implementing a very ambitious platform that I am sure you remember (show it).
You know, four years ago, after having the privilege of being elected, I said to myself, “Marcel, you are not a politician. You have to keep your campaign promises.”
That has been my focus and where I have put my energy over the last years. Really only three years since year one I was president-elect.
And we have achieved a lot of those promises.
(Put the team in place)
So when you asked me to lead the COC, I started right away to put the right team in place like I did in any executive organization that I led before.
Same recipe, the best team.
I wanted the highest quality executive to deliver the ambitious program and build the best possible COC.
Part of that was to have the COC be the best possible partner for each of you. This was very important to me.
All of those achievements over the last four years have been realized because of that first class team, of course, but also because of the support and cooperation from you, the national sport federations.
(NSFs helped with the COC success)
You had the open mind for new ideas. You were ready for it. You were ready to contribute and help us. You were just great facing changes, innovation and challenges.
You were incredible cooperators and true partners.
You were the gateway to all we initiated.
You are the major reason for our success today and for this I deeply thank all of you.
(NSF and COC working together)
Although not always perfect – and it is normal when you break new ground – over the past four years we learned how to work together – as one unified team.
For me and our team, this was extremely, extremely important.
It is probably one of our best legacies in the last three years.
(Achievements of past four years)
I am very proud of our achievements across all areas of the organization:
- Achievements in revenue generation, marketing, communications, sport and operations.
- Revenue: – we have delivered unprecedented private sector revenue of more than $100m.
- The ‘Give Your Everything’ campaign: we have told our athletes’ stories, on every possible platform, through this award-winning brand campaign. Telling the athletes’ story became a permanent phenomenon.
- Coaches: we have increased the profile and recognition of our invaluable and most deserving coaches.
- And we could go on and on.
(Elected me for next four years)
Now, you have decided that I will continue to lead our organization and we will spend the next four years continuing to build and shape the future of sport – together.
I thank you for your renewed vote of confidence.
I will not disappoint you.
(Sport / Sport / Sport)
I said in November, the next three years will be about our core business: Sport / Sport / Sport.
The goal is simple and clear. We have to deliver more medals in Sochi, Rio, PyeongChang, and well into the future.
We have to increase the pool of potential medallists then convert that pool in a way that is better than any other country.
Because our athletes can compete and win against the best in the world, if they are properly supported.
Over the next four years, we will focus on three critical goals:
1. Invest in and strengthen athletes, coaches and national sport federations:
2. Align the sport system; and
3. Show how sport & athletes are an asset to society.
To win more, we know that we need to focus on these three things.
(How will we achieve this?)
So what are the concrete actions that I will do, as your leader, with my team, to achieve this?
1. Strengthen NSFs:
NSFs are the foundation of our sport system. When you win … we all win. That is why we have launched the $10million best in class NSF enhancement initiative. This program will help NSFs achieve performance excellence on and off the field of play.
$10million is a very modest start. We know it will take much more. So, we will get other partners like governments to work with us on your behalf to implement this ambitious project.
2. Align sport system
Ever since I joined the COC, so many of you have spoken to me about this country’s fragmented sport system.
All these years later, I still hear the same thing: we have to do something.
So effective immediately, I have asked our sport management team and our sport strategies committee to put a plan in place to present to our board in the next 6 months.
We need to see greater alignment in our sport system for maximum efficiency and maximum results.
Friends, we cannot afford not to do this. We have no other choice.
Countries like the Netherlands, Hungary, New Zealand, Russia and many others are progressing very quickly and if we want to stay competitive and ahead, we need to continue to be innovative and aggressive to align our system.
What about us?
The COC cannot do this alone. We will need your help, and I know that together, once and for all, we will overcome this longstanding obstacle to greater success.
3. Continue to drive revenue:
In November, we also announced that we would put close to $100m into sport.
This was a direct result of the incredible efforts of the COC executive team to ensure we did not have the predictable post-home Games sponsorship drop-off.
I am also very excited that in some of those deals we had an NSFs component; specifically RBC and Canadian Tire.
This is a good start but we need lots more.
That is why the COC is committing itself to maximizing recurring revenue opportunities such as:
- Building a broadcast strategy;
- Partnerships with governments across the country for increased annualized support;
- Exploring a national lottery option; and
- Finally, getting a strong lift off for the Olympic foundation.
We know that the solution to your needs is long-term, stable and predictable funding for athletes, coaches and national sport federations.
4. Non-targeted sports
Not only will we continue to fund our targeted sports but we cannot stop there.
One of the reasons I got involved in sport is because I wanted to help all athletes who had the talent but needed the resources to get them to the next level.
I understand very clearly from what you have told me that the entire sport community agreed to the targeting approach because they were of the belief that eventually every sport would benefit.
We cannot just say it. That needs to happen.
I am committing to use the voice, the profile and the power of sport and the Olympic rings to help, even in a modest way, non-targeted sports. They are part of the Olympic family and they too strive for excellence.
5. Our athletes & coaches as assets
Now, allow me to say something that will come as no surprise to the people in this room.
Our Canadian athletes and coaches are invaluable assets to society.
Invaluable assets whose strengths have the real potential to help address some of our country’s current and future challenges.
At a time where governments are constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to overcome challenges, we – as sports leaders – are in the wonderful position to say to them: “Canada’s athletes are not just great national heroes; they can and should be the solution too!”
Not only do we, together, have the opportunity to continue to tell our athletes’ remarkable stories, but I truly believe that we are at a juncture in Canadian history where sport has the potential to take its rightful place as a means for good in our country.
That is the grand task ahead for all of us, and the COC believes it has an important role to play in promoting these values and ideals in an effort to enhance the role of sport in Canadian society.
These ideals are sadly not shared unanimously. We saw that in Boston earlier this week where at an occasion where people from around the world gathered peacefully under the banner of sport, excellence and togetherness. The events in Boston were an appalling and terrible act.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who were affected by this terrible act of violence.
This was a very sad day for sport and for the running community here in Canada and across the world.
6 a) build COC sport team
I said that we are about Sport / Sport / Sport.
So where is the concrete action?
I believe that success happens if you have good people. Then you must give them the support they need and they will achieve great things.
I am happy to announce that we will build on the great sport team you tell us that we have at the COC.
We will grow our executive team and add two new Executives: an Executive Director of Sport and an Executive Director of Games. They will work with our Chief of Sport and our CEO to deliver on all that I mentioned today.
6 b) Montreal Offices
To make the COC the most productive and efficient, the Board of Directors unanimously supported the management’s recommendation to transfer the 15 people within the sport team from Ottawa to Montreal.
(Describe the deal)
– Advantage of 2 offices instead of 3.
– Integration of new sport people among all other areas of the organization who are there to support sport.
– Millions in savings that can be re-invested in sport.
1) Real, continuous and significant investment in sport;
2) Aligning, harmonising and perfecting our sport system; and
3) Promoting our athletes and coaches as the greatest and most impactful assets to our society and our great country.
These are the three pillars that will anchor the next four years at the Canadian Olympic Committee, under my leadership with you as full partners.
To conclude, I want you to imagine we are at the COC session in April 2017.
Nine months earlier we just had, more than ever, a record-setting performance in Rio where the performances of our athletes surpassed everyone’s expectations.
The country is in love with our Olympic athletes. Television ratings are through the roof. Every single household watched the Games.
Coaches are starting to return to Canada.
And both the private sector and public sector finally understand the power of sport and of our athletes.
Right after these incredibly successful Games in Rio, we had a chance to speak to many of our key stakeholders.
Here is what they have told us:
- National sport federations said, “We are so glad that we finally have alignment in our system where our provincial sport organisations are completely aligned with our vision. We truly feel that we are finally able to focus on how to beat our competition and win medals because we have the capacity we always needed.”
- The athletes said, “We feel supported by everyone in our sport system. We felt that support before we became Olympians and we feel it now through our retirement. Thank you NSFs and thank you COC.”
- Corporate Canada said, “Not only do we want to re-sign with the COC, we also want to directly support more NSFs.”
- The Prime Minister of Canada declared that the government will match every single dollar from the private sector, thereby eliminating the funding gap with other G8 countries.
Members of the Session, these are my heartfelt hopes and aspiration as well as my deep belief and conviction. My best satisfaction will be when I will stand here before you in 4 years’ time, and you pay me 1, and only 1, complement.
I want you to say that, and I quote you, “He was not a politician. He delivered everything he promised.”
I am really honored to have this opportunity to continue to serve you.
- 30 -
Canadian Olympic Committee Media Office:
Jane Almeida, Manager, Media Relations
Tel: 416-324-4120 / Cell: 416-540-1788
DimitrI Soudas, Executive Director, Communications
Tel: 416-324-4136 / Cell: 289-388-6419