October 13 - Mike Lee, the doyen of sports spin doctors, says far more major events will go the way of emerging nations in years to come, replacing traditionally "safe" venues because of highly persuasive legacy claims.

Lee has a near-perfect track record in advising bidding candidates, having successfully campaigned for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, the Winter Games of Pyeongchang in 2018 and the 2022 Qatar World Cup, arguably the biggest surprise in bidding history.

He believes the stronger economies, can-do attitude and more potent messages being delivered by the new breed of would-be hosts more than justify so many sports events ending up in these regions instead of in established cities and countries.

"We sit here in the UK and Europe and there is an arrogance at times to think we were the great traditional home and that we should always be so," said Lee, the former communications director of London 2012, who is now chairman of Vero Communications, the company he set-up.

"Indeed we were when sport was coming into a certain stage of its development and we were one of the strongest economies.

"The world is changing and sport is waking up to it.

"That's why so many decisions are made to go to Sochi, Rio, Pyeongchang, Russia, Qatar."

What a country like Qatar and the Middle East region in general can present to the world, said Lee, "are probably greater than you can achieve in a country like the UK and in a city like London."

He explained further: "Everyone around the world sees London as a very mature, fantastic historic city with so much of it having grown up over 200 years.

"The ability to have an impact in transformation terms is actually harder.

"In a country like Qatar, engaging in massive infrastructure, building and creating whole new communities and developing more of a sporting culture, the margins to make this happen are so much bigger...especially with an economy as strong as that and a vision for the future.

"There is a dramatic axis shift going on and if sport isn't in tune with that, it will miss a massive opportunity."

Switching to London 2012, Lee said there was a danger of too much focus on the troubles affecting the Olympic Stadium and not enough attention on other benefits.

Legacy, he said, was not just short-term and did not only involve the main venue.

"Getting legacy right is not easy," said Lee, speaking here at the International Sports Event Management (ISEM) conference.

"In a city like London it's even more complicated that in a country like Russia or Brazil or Qatar which have much more scope for investment and development, more of a blank canvas.

"The London debate is over-dominated by the stadium issue.

"It's a massive question for sure and hard to solve in the medium and longer term but there are other benefits that come with London 2012 that don't get the headlines.

"Legacy is complicated - you get it wrong if you just focus on the main centrepiece."

By Andrew Warshaw

Source: www.insidethegames.biz