On the spot
Director of the Buenos Aires Ciudad Activa Project
Buenos Aires City Government, Argentina
The first ever edition of the Olympism in Action Forum took place in Buenos Aires, on the eve of the opening of the Youth Olympic Games. How did the city integrate this event within its own sport strategy?
To host the Olympism in Action Forum, we need to understand the context of the city. We felt that, for a week, we were the centre of sports, at least in the region. It was an honour for us to host the Forum, the 133rd IOC Session and the Games. There has been even more of a focus on our city with the Global Active City Summit which complements all of this movement and really generates an impact on our city as one that loves sports, physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
With regards to the Forum itself, I found it very powerful to have all of these sports influencers coming together and giving recommendations and opinions about how to go forward in the future. I found this to be a great opportunity and a great tool to listen to what is going on in different societies and communities related to sport and beyond.
What were the values shared and highlighted during the Youth Olympic Games?
The Opening Ceremony as well as the Games were free and open to everyone. For us, it is essential to build an inclusive society and to promote – specifically to the youth – healthy lifestyles, being together with other kids, doing sports, practicing physical activity and acquiring healthy habits.
So, it is important for us to be open to the public and to the community as well as to have the people feeling involved in this huge Olympic Movement. We want to talk to our youth and to help them in terms of leadership, respect and all of the Olympic values but specifically we need that our youth find different types of motivation. And the Olympics are definitely a very nice engine for motivation.
With regards to the Global Active City Label, you just got certified. How do you see the changes in and impact on the city?
When we started working with the Olympics four years ago, we also knew about this programme with the IOC. As we identified a child obesity problem within the city, we needed to find innovative ways to make a culture change within the city. We know that we need to provide more nutritionists but that is not enough. A holistic or systemic approach is necessary and we found that the Global Active City programme was very aligned with the philosophy of Buenos Aires. this is the reason why, beyond the Games, we decided to walk the Active City path. The challenge was to align isolated programmes and to give them a common vision in order to have a bigger impact. This vision was to increase physical activity and, more specifically, to work with healthy nutrition for kids.
What will be the legacy of Buenos Aires 2018?
Five years ago, we thought that the legacy would be directed straight to infrastructure because these Games were an excuse to develop the south of the city, which is the poorest area. There is a big gap between the north and the south of the city so, at the very beginning, the Games provided an opportunity to quicken the process of bridging this gap. We built the Olympic Villa and the Olympic Park and we improved urban infrastructure including a bridge to connect the south with the other side. A lot of improvements were made for the Games that will definitely remain for the years to come.
Looking into the future, we began with the Active City process and we focused on how these Games could connect with Sports for All, sports in general and, beyond sports, with physical activity and movement within the city. We also focused on how the power brand of the IOC could be used to promote movement and thus improve health.
When we started working towards the Global Active City label, we put things in order, organized the government and built alliances. Before the Games, we quickened the infrastructure process. The Games also moved things along with regards to working on increasing physical activity levels within the population. Tackling the issues of obesity levels and non-communicable diseases is definitely something we had to do.
So, when we got into the Active City process, we organized our management systems and we put all of our programmes in place. We certified right before the Games. It was a great challenge but we are very proud of this accomplishment as it is a way of demonstrating the work we underwent to get to the Games. The key success for us is to be able to demonstrate, through this certification, the work we’ve done to increase physical activity. We can then say that we have both tangible and intangible legacies.
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