We love learning about the people behind the scenes who help expand the visibility of the Paralympics. Today we’re talking with Alexis Schäfer, the former Commercial and Marketing Director of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Alexis joined the IPC in 2002 as Sr. Manager of Marketing and Broadcasting, when there were only a few employees. As a result, his role encompassed a wide range of tasks, and he was instrumental in the growth of the organization.
In 2011, Alexis was promoted to the role of Commercial and Marketing Director, where he remained until 2022. During this time, he created the IPC Worldwide Partnership program, which proved to be so effective that it was integrated into the International Olympic Committee’s TOP program. The program helped to secure major sponsors for the Paralympic Games, including the one responsible for our favorite Tokyo 2020 commercial “First Date.”
We also talk about how broadcast coverage for the Paralympics has expanded over the years–and more importantly, Alexis explains why we have feed beefs.
You can follow Alexis on LinkedIn and Twitter.
In our history moment, Jill looks at the Paralympic Games of Seoul, which are considered to be the first Games of the Paralympic modern era. Seoul had a lot of firsts–first agreement with the International Olympic Committee, first torch relay, and first time judo was a sport. These Games also gave a tremendous legacy to the country, as they showed what people with disabilities could achieve and empowered disabled citizens to be proud of their disabilities.
We have tons of news from our TKFLASTANIS, including updates from:
- Beach volleyball player Kelly Cheng
- Shooters Kim Rhode, Tim Sherry and Ginny Thrasher
- Nordic combined competitor Annika Malacinski
- Sailors Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea
- Curler John Shuster
- Race walker Evan Dunfee
- Paddler Luuka Jones
- Hammer thrower DeAnna Price
- Speed skater Erin Jackson
- Retired shot putter Michelle Carter
- Retired artistic swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau
- Retired cross-country skier Kikkan Randall
- Book Club Claire
We also have an update on the Kamila Valieva doping situation — we’re getting closer to a final resolution!
Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Alexis Schaefer.
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.
Marketing the Paralympics with Alexis Schaefer (Episode 275)
[00:00:00] Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown.
Alison, hello, how are you?
[00:00:49] Alison: I’ve been dop. Oh
[00:00:51] Jill: wait, , wait a second. So where’s your B test? Where’s your weight? We gotta get your B test.
[00:00:58] Alison: So, I’m, I’m confessing. No, as I, I mentioned about a couple months ago, I had to have surgery on my foot wasn’t healing properly. They had to put a steroid shot in the lower joint of my big toe.
Here is why I am sharing this because when, first of all, it hurt. , it hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I swore at the doctor. Yes. Wow. It was, it was rough. So when athletes talk about, oh, I got a pain injection and now I’m fine, I don’t know how they stand up after those pain injections because this, so it was a steroid to reduce the swelling mixed with lidocaine, which is the big painkiller that they shoot into them.
They deserve a gold medal for taking one of those shots. I will never do it again. I will cut my foot off before I let them. Give me another one of those shots again. So everything about this foot procedure has taught me I am not designed to be an Olympic athlete.
[00:01:57] Jill: Do you feel any like increased performance benefits from your, from your steroid usage?
[00:02:02] Alison: You know, I have been speaking in a deeper voice
and I think I could, you know, kick a winner for the, women’s soccer team. In my, oh, that might be cool. Juice. Step foot. That would be cool.
[00:02:11] Jill: Well, you know, we were talking before the show that everything’s been coming up Bradberry all week for us. Every time I turn around, I have another Stephen Bradberry reference popping up either in my Twitter feed or on YouTube or whatever it’s just been nonstop. Stephen Bradbury after, and I, I blame.
Ben and Colin from Off the Podium for putting that into our lives. But also I was just doing a little bit of a news scan and saw that the. Chef de Micone for the Netherlands at Paris 2024 will be Peter Von Hogan Bond. So now everything’s gonna come up. Peter von Hogan Bond for a
[00:02:51] Alison: while too. So we talked with Ben about his costume and now he can resurrect it.
Bring it to Holland House for Paris 2024 and maybe get Peter Vanden hola to sign his goggles.
[00:03:03] Jill: That would be amazing. .
[00:03:06] Alison: Get on that. Ben
[00:03:07] Jill: Don’t forget our book club is coming up. We are reading inaugural Ballers by Andrew Marinis. If you are reading the book, let us know what you think of it. We are also having a q and a with Andrew on Monday, March 27th at 9:00 PM Eastern PM Central Time in the US it is free, but we do ask that you sign up in order to send you the link for the event to rsvp,
please email Flame a live pod gmail.com and put book Club in the subject blind.
[00:03:38] Alison: Live and in
[00:03:39] Jill: person and we’re talking women’s basketball. What could be better not
[00:03:43] Alison: getting a shot in your
[00:03:44] Jill: foot? That’s true. Also what could be better is our conversation we’re having today.
Alexis Schäfer Interview
[00:03:49] Jill: We are talking with Alexis Schäfer, who is the former commercial and marketing director of the International Paralympic Committee.
Alexis joined the I P C in 2002 as Senior Manager of Marketing and broadcasting when there weren’t many employees at the I P C. So you can imagine that his role encompassed a whole lot of different things. He was promoted to the role of commercial and marketing director in 2011 and remained there until he left the organization in 2022 among his many projects.
Alexis created the I P C Worldwide Partnership Program, which was so effective that it was integrated into the International Olympic Committee’s Top program. He also worked to build broadcasting partnerships, which has helped to expand the coverage of the Paralympics.
We talk with him about the development, sponsorship and broadcasting, including why we have feed beefs. Take a listen.
Alexis, thank you so much for joining us. First question you worked at the I P C for about 20 years, so. and it was your first job out of university. What made you want to work with the International Paralympic Committee?
[00:04:58] Alexis Schaefer: Well, first of all [00:05:00] hello and thanks for having me. Well, I think the answer is yeah, not as exciting as maybe you are hoping for.
I left university. I was starting to look for jobs. I was involved with sports before, so, , I still do shooting sports. I was part of the German national team. I competed at some level internationally. And as a junior discovered that shooting sports you peak very old in your life in a way.
So it’s not one of those sports where you can do university right after it. So I. Decided to go with university was looking for a job in sports. Didn’t know at all that the IPC is based in Bonn. Bonn is my hometown is where I went to school. I left the city for then studying.
So came back saw a post for position for the assistant to the president and I thought like, oh, that’s interesting. Didn’t even know that the International Paralympic committee is based in Bonns. So, maybe I call them up and ask them if I could do an internship while I’m applying for jobs and could be an interesting opportunity to learn.
And and on the other hand I do something meaningful and well that ended up in, in the 20 years career at the I P C.
[00:06:06] Jill: So where did you start? The I P C had to be a completely different world at that time. What was it like when you joined as an organization?
[00:06:15] Alexis Schaefer: Yeah, so the office opened in 99. I joined late in 2002. That was the time when the then CEO driving go Salla.
He was in just there for a couple of months. There were probably two handful of people. If if there were I started basically then as a person that assisted the marketing director at the time. So, I always had worked in, in marketing with the I P C, from start to the end.
But of course, when you look at the organization, when you look at the, the office in 2000 and and two with Two handful of people. And when I left, I, I think there were about 130 people working for the I P C. It was a completely different type of organization. And I think that was also the exciting part about working there because every summer games, I looked back at the end of the games and was kind of like thinking, so what did you do the, preview cycle?
You know, I was thinking, well, what’s coming? What’s coming up next in the next cycle? And, and there were so dramatic developments as you were going from games to games to games and uh, yeah, I think I, I wasn’t thinking about leaving because my job, my role changed so much. I took over the responsibility then for the commercial area in 2000 eight at the time, and was then also.
able to build a team around it. Both in, in, in the partnership area at the time was still leading brand. And also of course in the, broadcast area as we took over the broadcasting rights internally after, after London.
And yeah, it’s uh, when you look back at it now, and when you look at how many people react when you say oh, I worked for the International Paralympic committee. And then people say, oh, really? And. They recognized the organization, they recognized the event. And I still remember in 2003 I was with my girlfriend at the time at a wedding Inverb and was a, a friend of hers that uh, she met while she was starting in Canada.
And, and the, father was a very successful businessman. So we got into conversations with different people and I remember someone asking me, so what are you doing? So I said, okay, I work for the International Paralympic Committee. And then he looked at me and said like, okay, can you explain what they’re doing?
So, Told about the Paralympic games and what the Paralympic games are. And then he looked at me and said like, okay, and what are you doing for a living? I was like well, , that’s actually my job. And yeah, I think uh, maybe now we’re laughing, but at the time it was still the reality and it’s great that me and others were able to play their part to make the, the Paralympic games, the, the movement um, something bigger and meaningful and give the athletes the platform that they deserve.
And when I left the organization, I also said, I, I really hope, I don’t want to look back and talk about all the great things that I accomplished. I really hope that this is. Just the beginning and that the organization, the movement is going to continue to grow, evolve, and become even more meaningful in the world of sport.
[00:09:11] Alison: When we were in Beijing, I definitely got the impression from the I P C leadership that it is a very small community at the top and it is very flat. Was that your experience on the inside?
[00:09:26] Alexis Schaefer: I think the organization, the access to the top was always very, let’s say short. And I think if you are a small organization, you also. You need to have that you cannot go through 10 levels in the chain of command. That’s it’s not going to work, obviously.
The pyramid is bigger now than it used to be at the, beginning. But I think one of the strong parts, or what was really always very strong with the organization was the team and the support that the team was giving to each other, and also the opportunity to develop ideas.
And [00:10:00] and then you obviously need a leadership that needs to be open to those ideas, to also drive, the change. And I think access to that leadership is also something very important. So, um, yeah, I would that.
[00:10:12] Jill: Your first games would’ve been Athens 2004. Those games were much different than a games you see today. when you come in and you try to build up awareness and build up excitement about the Paralympics at a much different time of their visibility, like what were the goals?
[00:10:31] Alexis Schaefer: Well, when I came in the goals or the goal was to build a sponsorship pillar for the organization. So, to bring in more revenue. Grow the I b C grow the help to grow the movement. So, um, if I would concentrate on that, because I think if you look at Athens and, try to compare Athens with Tokyo, there are so many different points that are different today then at the time.
So let’s focus on that for for a second. Today people look at Tokyo 2020 and they see that all the I O C top partners are involved maybe not all for Tokyo 2020. Not all at a world by partner level, but at least on a domestic level. Now moving forward, the I O C is responsible for bundling up the top program, and, and, and you’re buying global rights to both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
At the same time. That was unthinkable at the time and, and there was hardly, when you look at the sponsorship family list, hardly any of the top partners that supported Athens. Same for the domestic partners by the way. So, it was a massive difference and therefore we had to build from scratch.
I always say that one of the exciting pieces was that, . And anytime that there, you started a project, it was more, more or less a white paper that you started with. Maybe someone was giving you kind of like couple of guiding documents, but you can trust that the document doesn’t exist.
And that’s, that’s how it was like going into Athens. we launched the atos in, in Athens. So, uh, that was a big moment. So, you, some people may still remember the, the tego symbol that looked like the drops out of the ying yang symbol. That were developed out of the Seoul, games, then at the time was still five.
That was a bigger organization in Lausanne. Didn’t necessarily, didn’t like the arrangement of the five drops and the colors and the fact that there were ambitions in the nineties from the I P C to commercialize this. Obviously you can that position if you try to protect, on the other hand your own symbol.
So, two of the five drops were dropped. And for a long time, that was the symbol of the Paralympic movement. I think. There were a lot of people that always said it wasn’t our decision to use that symbol, so we wanted to change that. And and out of a strategic process that was led by the president at the time, so Philip Craven and the board.
One decision was also to create a new brand. So, it was going into then the closing ceremony. When, that brand was launched, it was still already visible in on some of the television footage, but as it was launched shortly before the games, the organizing committee, for example, wasn’t willing anymore to change, the logo.
So, um, everything was changed. What was still able to change. Different for Torina because they. Launched with the Tigo symbol and then transferred over to the Ajis for 2006. So that was an exciting time also convincing National Paralympic committees at the time to, to say, we want to create a global brand.
So, uh, let’s have all the MPCs have the, the atos incorporated in their national design. Hardly any of the MPCs had that at the time. A lot of the MPCs didn’t carry the name Paralympic or the word Paralympic in their title. It was still the organization for the deaf or the blind or whatever.
umph equation always had a very unique or a very. Opinion about the word disabled. So, uh, the fact that we had a lot of membership organizations that carried the word disabled in their title was obviously something that needed to be addressed. So it was something where you could certainly look to the left and to the right and speak to a lot of people and learn from them and learn how, they’ve done this.
But it felt like. So much, so much to do, and sometimes you didn’t, really know where to start, where to stop and whether you find it funny and good that that Olympic partners that made a conscious decision not to be involved in in the Paralympic games, still had visibility there because the organizing company said, well, it’s too expensive to change it.
Whether the was done good, bad I don’t know. But visa started already to get involved. Autobox obviously as a national partner domestic partner of the organizing committee. They, Did this in 88. They were also in Athens and Athens wasn’t very important games for us to also then talk to the owner of of Autobox and, and subsequently making auto autobox also work by partner for the I P C.
So, yeah, a lot of things kicked off [00:15:00] there changed. But when you are looking back at the games in Athens and how they look like, and if you then go to Tokyo and you experience the games there, unfortunately without spectators, but in terms of level of service for example, it’s it’s been a great experience, great rise.
Not always without bumps, but certainly something that you look back and um, yeah, feel a little bit proud about what the team has achieved together.
[00:15:25] Jill: What was it like to work with the national committees and convince them, Hey, we all need to be National Paralympic Committee and change their, because that’s, that ends up being a cost on their end too.
[00:15:36] Alexis Schaefer: Yep. it was hard. I mean, a, it took a number of general assemblies before the IP bylaws that were written now in the, in the way they’re written today in terms of having the okay that Paralympics part of the title and having one third of the design being the details because there were a number of nations that had existing designs, existing logos, something that they had.
Invested in and then all of a sudden the mothership comes and say, okay. Right. You know, Now we believe in the big rebranding, so, um, come on, let’s do this together. So, I would say it was a lot of persistency. Sometimes you had to wait for leadership to change to grab the opportunities.
Sometimes it was done by political let’s say pressure and there were also a lot of countries that actually saw the benefit, I think A big, big change came actually with Beijing and the television coverage in Beijing, and all of a sudden people recognizing and and seeing what a summer games can bring because uh, from a television perspective Athens was a big jump from Sydney.
It was only the second time that there was a what you call a host broadcasting. So where there was a host broadcasting organization creating a world feed that you could then sell to televisions. To broadcast the game’s life. There were some certain territories already an okay coverage, but in many territories there were were not.
And I think in, Beijing, there was a dramatic step forward. And I think also National Paralympic committees recognized that. And that’s when we started to have our list and we basically said, well, we cannot do and work with everybody at the same time, we also gave support to many national Paralympic committees at the time because they didn’t have designers to work on it.
So, we had internally capabilities to work with smaller MPCs to understand, get their brief, understand what they think their emblem should be looking like, and then work with them. And we always said like, okay, we have the ones that are really willing, so let’s. Work with them one by one, some of them can do it themselves.
Others we need to help. Then there was constantly kind of like the middle group where you were talking to them whenever you had the opportunity and there was also a group of people where you said, okay, well we’re not going to convince them tomorrow. So, let’s wait for a significant moment.
Let’s call it, for example, London 2012. and the fact that you want the host NPC to carry the Paralympic symbol or you wait for the leadership to change Or for change of mind to get to this point,
[00:18:12] Alison: what is the relationship between the I P C and the Olympic Broadcasting Service in terms of getting that feed?
[00:18:19] Alexis Schaefer: Whew. I think I mean, first of all to start off with because I’ve been just man, died as a as a father of horse broadcasting and, os and Ching Gonzalez and I were just going through a little bit the history and the impact that Manolo made and o b s only started to exist later, so you already have to go a little bit earlier, and it was always a contractual relationship.
So, but it’s a purpose. the organization has a purpose. So, um, the I O C also had to agree that O Bs gets involved with the Paralympic games and then was part of the first corporation agreement between the IPC and the I O C that OS would do that. Which. Many advantages. And both Manolo, Romeo and, and now also s the ceo, they have been enormous support for the Paralympics.
Why I’m saying this because people cannot imagine the credibility that comes with O B S producing a television feed. Of course you debate how can things be done differently. or you know, does it have to be like this? And maybe you have to make compromises because there’s an infrastructure that is being put in place for the Olympics that you also then use for the Paralympics, but in the end, you contract o b s.
So, it’s either, for Tokyo was a special case, was the I P C, but normally it’s the organizing committee. You agree on what’s the level of production that O Bs should produce obviously O B S. Would make recommendations. But it’s part of the work of the I P C and and also the organizing committees obviously to make the call what that level should be.
We have been very fortunate that we’ve been able to [00:20:00] increase the level uh, games um, games by games. And from what I understand, Paris is going to be again, unprecedented levels of coverage with all the sports that are covered. But someone needs to pay for that. And it’s either the organizing committee saying no matter what I pay what I have to pay.
And that was for example, the case in, Beijing. So Beijing significantly upgraded the level of coverage from Athens. To Beijing, but then as we were going to London, London said, okay, we’re going to do the same as Beijing. But first we need to recoup the cost here. we need to see how much we can make from national and international ride sales.
And once that is done, then we can talk about enhancements and that’s the reason why from Beijing to London, the distribution. Increased significantly, but the level of coverage didn’t London in the end could have taken the decision to invest more into into the coverage.
There was huge debate at the time for example about the the marathon was a beautiful day, sunny, and Britain obviously was hoping for some gold medals. And there was no live coverage at the time, and O v s got a lot of criticism for that.
But I mean, it wasn’t their call. I mean, bs basically is, is producing then what they’re contracted to produce. And I can say that in that particular case, for example, Manolo had. Raised this point a number of times and said that he thinks it’s a mistake that no investment, additional investment was planned for the marathon.
So, yeah, easy question. Maybe short one, long answer to it. But I think it’s um, and I’ve been at the center of of it for, for a long time. There always been a very in the end, very productive. I think um, not with, without challenges especially if you’re kind of like this small organization that wants to develop very, very quickly and obviously o b s also has to consider the big picture.
But they’ve been doing so many things and that, that were then possible During the Paralympics that probably without having the uh, let’s say Olympic infrastructure in place, wouldn’t have been possible. So, in that sense fantastic support and as I said, great, great credibility among the broadcast community because if someone asks the question so who’s actually producing the pictures?
Can I rely on this? is it good? And you’ll say, well, it’s produced by Olympic Broadcasting Services. Then people say, oh, oh, okay.
[00:22:35] Jill: So next question, let’s make a long answer longer. We had a lot of feed beefs. No, no problem. . We had a lot of feed beefs, what we called feed beef from Tokyo. So you mentioned that Tokyo was not the organizing committee.
Organize or do the contract for those feeds. Where is the choice of what sports we are going to cover aren’t going to cover made? Because we, we really, sadly missed not having wheelchair fencing and para power lifting at Tokyo.
[00:23:03] Alexis Schaefer: Yep. The broadcasters.
and I mean, for Tokyo, I can really speak about this because with my colleague Josh at the time who was working for me now, working for International Skating Union and helping the president there, but he was leading this together with Alex Siva, pa, and we came out of Rio and said, okay we have u unique opportunity.
So, the first thing that happened together with our Boardman member Mr. Yaki we had to convince N H K to become, to have a long-term deal in place for the Paralympic Games. So eight games in a row. That gave us a lot of stability. they made a significant contribution to the co production where we know, okay, that helps us basically uh, with the con contribution that we have that helps us to cover the same level of coverage that we had in Rio.
And then as we sold the rights, we obviously know how much. Money additionally would probably go into going into half. we started to make calculations into, where eventually with the revenue go and we made an approach to the organizing committee and told the organizing committee that we because they had the rights, they had the obligation to produce and the right to receive the revenue in order to get one of the two.
You needed to take both. So we made an offer to the organizing committee a financial offer and let’s say a resource offer that We as the I P C would take care of it. We got a mandate from the governing board at the time to say we want to increase the coverage.
We believe that if we improve the coverage, it’s going to help with the overall global distribution. But It needs to pay for itself. So, at the time we made the decision that worked very closely again with o Bs to say, okay each sport, how much does this cost?
And then on the other hand, we had a number of meetings and we did a number of service with broadcasters to say, okay, right. If we do this and we start [00:25:00] completely from scratch which sports are most important to you? , do you want to have full life coverage? Do you want to have a reduced bare minimum approach for the sport?
Do you maybe want to have, not life coverage, but in a way with a smaller set of produced life but only available as highlights? Do you want to have more services? Do you want to have this, do you want to have that? So, we did the first survey. We got the feedback from the broadcasters, then looked at all the sports, all the different services, and, and said like, okay, right.
What is really the core that everyone wants? And how much money do we actually have? So where do we have to make a cut? So, that’s when you trace back, there was a initial press release about the level of coverage that we announced together with the Tokyo Organizing Committee. So that was kind of like survey one after the the decision and where we obviously had to go to a number of spot we say okay.
Right. The broadcasters actually wanted an additional feed in athletics that was more important to them, far more important to them than unfortunately a sport that I’m not going to mention now.
So, we try to be as objective as possible to make this not a political exercise. But try to focus actually on what the broadcasters told us, what they, what they want, what they need to have overall more coverage of the games. and we reached out. I think we spoke, When you look at the coverage from real we always said, we, we probably, the, the people that we involved represented around 90% of the revenue and 90% of the overall coverage of the games. So, we had the feeling that the group that we were talking to, they’re really going to make an impact.
And if that group is already saying that, that that’s important, then probably there are others that would be very happy with the decisions that we’re making. And if, p say, why do you need three feeds from athletics? Well, I mean, I don’t know. I think during the Olympics, athletics has probably, I don’t know, 10, 15 isolated feeds where you have a specific camera feed.
But in the past it was, you had two. That means you had, A feet that focused on the track. And then you had a feet that was mixing track and field with the result that it was very, very hard to actually cover the narrative of a field event.
So you would always cause the mixed feed would always go back to the track if something happens to the track, because for a lot of broadcasters, they use the, the mixed feed because they cover then more of the action. And the third F field allowed us for the first time to have a way better than the rate of, of all the different field events.
And when you then look at athletics probably representing, I don’t know, 8 0 900 athletes out of 4,500 or so in Tokyo. Then yes, it is very unfortunate if you then, The sport that doesn’t have the coverage. But unfortunately we were not in a position where we could say money was not an issue.
But we needed to take this step by step by step. And I think we tried to be as responsible as possible, but trying to be, to, trying to find as many objective criteria that we could to make that call or make that decision. Was the most beloved person going into those meetings with the different sports having to tell them that they don’t have that coverage.
Well, I had better meetings in my life. But on the other hand, I can also say that Really understood when we showed them the numbers and the results that they also have to do some, some work. and that also starts with doing some work between the games. Because in the end, if you have a sport and it’s really important to union your community and it’s important to many different countries then you building an audience.
And if there is a demand, then the broadcaster would be more. Open to also take it, but also to be fair, when you’re looking at the resources international federations naturally have on the Olympic side to also look after press media their own events. And if you compare this to the Paralympic games, then obviously it’s, again, one step at a time. Something that, needs to develop. I think what people, it’s frustrating in the moment and it frustrated sometimes the hell out of me. But I think you have to look back maybe sometimes 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and. try to look then at the, the bigger picture and to see whether you’re making advancements or not.
And uh, in the end, whether what we did was the right decision or the wrong decision at least as to for others to, to judge. But we did the best that we could to not make this a political game where one sport, because they had a close connection to whoever, whoever had a better chance to [00:30:00] receive better coverage than another sports.
And inside of the I P C, obviously there are still a number of of sports and again here, if someone would say, yeah, but you didn’t do this with an I P C sport. No, I mean, Power lifting, for example, was an I P C governed board and had coverage in a Rio and didn’t have life, coverage then in Tokyo.
and, it’s something that wasn’t easy also to explain to our, colleagues. But um, yeah, we try not to, to have politics interfering with it because that’s always then the end of it, it all, when you try to explain it.
[00:30:36] Jill: When you negotiate with a broadcaster for multiple games, which I understand when I was doing some research, I noticed that somewhere along the way you switched from negotiating single games to negotiating multiple games.
And I totally get how that makes your life so much easier to not have to do that every few years. But when you talk about like expanding coverage of the Paralympics or even the Paralympic expanding and adding more sports or a sport, adding more classifications or events to it, how does that affect the money aspect of it when you negotiate for a certain amount and then all of a sudden maybe costs go up or inflation hits or sports expand and where do you get that money?
[00:31:17] Alexis Schaefer: Yeah. I mean, first, first of all what really drives the price is commitment and very important competition. I mean, the more that there is a feeling of competition that’s really when you really, really get a market price in that sense a, in a lot of territories.
we were more facing the situation to say, We, we need to build this partnership and need to build this partnership in the sense of getting more money. And on the other hand getting more hours, hours to broadcast. So, if you I don’t know if you are FIFA or also the I O C, then you would go to tender in many markets because there would naturally also be a lot of television stations that would compete against each other.
And in many markets on the Paralympic games, certainly in the past that has changed in a number of markets now. There was a lot of. Less if no competition. You know, Sometimes it wasn’t, wasn’t a question about can I create competition? It was more a question about how can I get a viable broadcaster?
In that sense, if you are able to give, deliver a better product and, and can also make the argument if you pay more, you get more, that can also help the price and that help us to achieve higher, revenues at a number of times. Even, even in a situation where there wasn’t the strongest competition and the broadcaster knew that there is nowhere else to turn to, but the argument that you can still make that we want to reinvest into the product and Make promises, but then also live up to those promises was certainly something that’s helped to create credibility and, help to drive the revenue, then currency fluctuations really, really, really difficult.
I mean, uh, even if it’s just dollar and zero that’s already when you, when you’re looking at the fluctuation there we try to minimize as much as possible the number of currencies that we were working with to protect us there and to have also as, as much let’s say uh, as much security as possible.
Inflation, I cannot really comment , cause I was lucky enough when I was selling TV rights from 20, from 2012 until 20 20, 21 we lived in a completely different world in terms of inflation. But I mean, jokes aside it’s such a severe situation and I I, I don’t know if you have been able to find an expert in November of December, 2021 that was able to predict where inflation is going to go 6, 7, eight month later.
And obviously that creates a lot of. But I think our, biggest challenge, for example, was, was also I mean, we would’ve loved to do some more things in Tokyo also on the digital front that in the end we were not able to do because Covid hit. and, and all of a sudden we’re all those conference calls and talked about, okay, you know, what does it cost to provide masks to a couple of thousand employees of the host broadcaster?
And how do we deal with the fact getting people out of the country after the Olympic games are trying to bring them back into the Paralympic games? Or do we try to convince them to stay into the country if they stay in the country? And it’s our decision who pays for that? And I think That was a massive challenge to deal with. And on the other hand I think it was still a massive achievement then to the team with uh, a couple of last minute deals with a lot of creative ideas, with good collaboration, also with O Bs to make it happen. That uh, in the end, the I P C was able to say that even a, a small profit was made on the broadcast side.
Because remember, I mean the, the direction of the board at the time was expand the coverage to as much as you can, but don’t lose money. And, and I mean, [00:35:00] I don’t want to go into all the details here, but, it was always the intent to really. Grow the coverage and as much as we can because if you record a profit, it’s a, for-profit business if you’re selling TV rights, and then parts of it would have to um, you, you would have to pay tax on it even if the IPC’s a non-for-profit in Germany.
So, there was always this ambition to really stay at the edge of it. And in the finance team together with her team did a brilliant job also guiding us through that. But that was probably a very difficult, time.
[00:35:35] Alison: I wanna talk a little bit about the relationship with Toyota, because Toyota definitely has really embraced its role as a sponsor of the Paralympics and gone, whole hog into it.
So how did that develop? You were on the, the starting end of that.
[00:35:50] Alexis Schaefer: Yeah. So again a lot of credit also here to our board member say Yama um, who, who was tremendous support on that end. Obviously he’s a well-connected Japanese businessman. He, he knew what’s going on in the, in the conversations between the I O C and and Toyota.
So we got a sense that that is going to happen. and we, we also heard that there is a stronger interest they’re driven also by Mr. Toyota for Toyota also to become a worldwide paralympic partner. And um, the Olympic deal had to be done first.
and what started then was a marathon of, of discussion. So, we internally had prepared a pitch deck for Toyota that was all around the idea of mobility for all. Which then turned out to really hit the sentiment of Toyota very, very nicely.
and the first part of the conversations was also about how is that going to work? Because in the Paralympics, there was no mechanism that you do one contract. You had to speak to all the different organizing committees. You had to involve the I O C because some organizing committees who are not even appointed and the hosting contract obviously had to go through i, the I O C we didn’t know at the beginning.
how strongly Toyota is interested. So, we went in with the idea for Toyota to become a global partner because I mean that, that was already one of the challenges. There were national Paralympic committees that had existing automobile deals. And with, for example, the us with b w there was Germany with Audi, there was Great Britain with Nissan.
And we had to think about, okay, how do we do this? Because the mechanism is you become a top partner, whether you have lump at the time, you have Olympic rights on Olympic rights, but as a top car partner, you are protected, not only protected by the organizing committee, the I P C, but every single national Paralympic committee around the globe has to protect you even if you get no money.
Like. All the NOCs getting money from the top deal even then you have to grant top protection. That’s simply part, part of the deal. It’s been part of the deal since the first I P C I O C agreement that was negotiated in in 2000 and then formalized in 2003 with Michael Payne at at the time still.
And, we had to think about how do we deal with that situation because we, we will have to work with those MPCs to try to see how can we replace basically their partners. And, and we went to Toyota and say, well, we don’t believe it’s good that if you go in. I mean, first of all, you we went in and said, you have to replace those deals.
, Toyota wanted to sell this to us. How positive this is in terms of Toyota coming in as a brand believing in the Paralympics. And we basically say, okay. Right. But also you have to understand, if you come in and you basically tell all those National Paralympic committees they need to get rid of their auto partners and don’t get anything for it, that’s not right.
No matter what you’re doing with the I P C or what you’re doing with the games that is not going to be good. So we recommend to you that you’re going to partner with every single national Paralympic committee, instead of choosing a few, you go in with everybody. And, there was then a lot of discussion how this could work.
We came then at some point in time in the negotiations to the point where they said, yeah we spoke with Mr. Toyota and he really, he wants to go with his approach. So we want to have one contract. We want all the games included in the contract. We want every single national Paralympic committee.
and then we started also did discuss what this then could be worth. and again, what we then tried internally was to to think about how, how we could do this for the top program. , they went around somewhere, sometimes in the eighties and started to say, okay, you get this, you get this, you get that.
And then from there, somehow the, there’s no major formula. How those numbers then evolved. They evolved country by country, depending on the situation. We had to do this all at the same time. And again, we try to be as objective as possible, trying to get as accurate [00:40:00] information from the MVCs, whether they have a partner, not have a partner, if they have a partner, what rights, how much money.
and we’re trying to bake this then all into a structure which we could then again discuss and negotiate with Toyota. it was a very interesting time. within a couple of months I had Senator status with, Lufthansa based on not flying business , which uh, yeah, tells you a little bit how often there was exchange.
But usually we um, either to Europe, we kind of like, was fundamentally me together with our lawyer at this time, Mike Townley that went to, uh, uh, to Tokyo. And then uh, the other time the Toyota folks were coming to Bonn. And I must say it was from the beginning.
A great exchange. Also if I listen to the scooters, to the team from Den uh, get a lot of critics but uh, Rio, VA that was one of the, the main people working on this. And, and this team helped, helped also there a lot. And in the end we were able to to get it all done.
And that was a great achievement and I think. How exciting a contract negotiation can be when you are there at the beginning is one thing. But I think what Toyota did with it is the amazing part. And again we were talking about media rights. So John Liko is now involved with uh, with the IPC for the broadcasting rights again he was working for Satchi and was part of the original team.
Always a massive supporter of the Paralympics. Fantastic to work with. And this team between Densu and Sachi was really so strong and it was. Top partner that said, okay, as a kickoff workshop. We want both the I P C and the I O C there. And we want to understand from them what you think success means.
and uh, I, I think that developed into great relationship. It’s a little bit unfortunate that, I mean, Toyota wanted to have to Tokyo obviously as their big games with Covid. All changed. Very unfortunate. But that’s how life is sometimes. So, um, I think we would’ve seen even, even more great things, and I’m saying this on the back of Toyota than to kick off the partnership having the Lauren Wilton Croft video as, part of the Super Bowl, something that from a pr point of view obviously was, was massive.
And even if not the whole world is uh, all the Super Bowl ads it obviously had a tremendous impact on also how the, the Paralympics are perceived in the United States. And in that regard, I also must say, wouldn’t under. Estimate the support that Toyota was giving to mpc, for example.
Because uh, again Long, long discussions with Gary’s ankle about many, many, many different things. I think it’s overall positive how that relationship is developing. I hope it really going to see a fantastic climbings in in la. But in the end NBC’s also, it’s a for-profit company.
So, they need to refinance the operations with sponsorship dollars. And when you’re then looking at what some of the partners were publicly saying. And on the other hand bank closed doors were giving NBC. to help having a, a, greater coverage of the Paralympics.
It’s, it’s two different things. And Toyota was the one, and again, John was in the, in the center of that and deserves also there credit that it’s a company. Put the money where, where their mouth was and was leading the pack. And I think that created a lot of good things for the Paralympic movement, not only in in the states, but also in many other countries.
and therefore I think overall when looking back at that relationship it’s fantastic to see how things have. Developed from this program, the support especially that I was also giving to National Paralympic committees the development initiatives that uh, the I P C was able to support NPCs with the money that Toyota was giving them.
A lot of people speak about impact, sponsorships and purpose and so on. But uh, I think when you’re looking at that relationship then that’s a really, really strong case and, and one where you I don’t know, don’t have to write the strategy afterwards.
it was there right from the beginning, the intent, the purpose and it. than just in a, in a great way. Went out and, touched so many, countries down to the athlete level. Well,
[00:44:26] Alison: it brought us the greatest mobility commercial ever, the Mike and Maya commercials from the Tokyo Olympics.
[00:44:34] Jill: you know, Toyota brought us such
[00:44:36] Alison: joy with their
[00:44:38] Jill: mobility device,
[00:44:39] Alison: advertising
[00:44:40] Alexis Schaefer: See, yeah. But, but, but, but sorry to interrupt you here. But it’s so interesting um, the uh, the other day I met a previous colleague and he’s doing some work here for the local hockey team and cologne. . Or the sharks in English and they’re doing in audio streams for fans [00:45:00] with visual impairment.
And who’s sponsoring that? It’s Toyota. And why are they sponsoring that? They went to the club and said, inclusion and especially also disability inclusion is so important for us. What are you doing on this front? and that’s what I’m saying, you know, there’s intent, there’s strategy, there’s this real purpose behind it.
And the way it was disseminated all across the world, it was so funny for me to see kind of, you, you can I’m not saying that this is kind of. You know, All because I negotiated the contract. It’s definitely not, but it’s so, I think when you, when you are looking at the importance of that contract and that relationship and you would start putting all those things together that were kicked off or started or were amplified or were continued or whatever.
There’s so much that goes back to that partnership and therefore yeah, it’s, I think, incredibly important for the Paralympic movement. That’s Toyota. Uh, Toyota happened. And I hope that there also is going to be a longer relationship coming. But that is obviously future talk.
[00:46:03] Jill: One little follow up How long did it take to negotiate that deal? Because we often think on the fan side, we’re like, oh, hey, Toyota’s partner now. But this is such a complex deal and so overarching that, I mean, I’d like to appreciate the work that went into it.
[00:46:24] Alexis Schaefer: I must say first of all, it was month not days and weeks.
I mean, you could probably easily do this by tracing down the tr press releases, but I think the final announcement must have been in November, end of November and the negotiations started right after Toyota. Announced as a top partner.
So, uh, gut feeling is it was probably around around a year it took to put all those uh, different pieces together, right? I still quite remember the end date the, the starting when when all of that started, I must say um, I would have to, to look that up myself.
[00:47:02] Alison: So you worked under two i p c Presidents, sir Phillip Craven and Andrew Parsons. What’s the difference? What, cuz they’re very different men. What was the difference in terms of the impact to the organization and how it functioned on a day-to-day level?
[00:47:18] Alexis Schaefer: I mean, yes, obviously two men, two generations. Andrew I think let’s say grew up under, under Phillips. So I think he was vice president under Phillips. So I they had a lot of interactions. There were a lot of things where I think they had very close interaction with each other.
Philip coming more from the sports side Andrew more coming from the communication and marketing side in inside. But Philip growing up inside the sport, Andrew, when you look at his via. Espin. Also involved in the Paralympic movement in Brazil all his life. And then also I think as the president of the America as a region.
So, uh, he also dedicated his life for it. but obviously when you looking also from an age perspective and how he then approached things how you work. It’s completely different, you know, one is for lime more on. Text messages. And the other one is still writing letters.
I think that diversity, that, the great thing about diversity is that there isn’t a good or a bad, you know, it’s not right or it’s wrong. It’s uh, it’s, you’re coming from different angles and you’re putting a different, focus on things.
Uh, So, uh, I think both were actually letting you do your job. I think both had the ability to listen to what your arguments are and then agree to it, and then you could also. Do your thing and get it done. I think in that sense Both Javi and Mike as CEOs, but also the other C level positions had had an opportunity more to really also do the management where the president is more on the governance level.
So, uh, yeah, but I mean, it, it was also for me interesting because I I obviously knew Andrew also for a long time. Different dealings with him on, on many different topics. And it was then interesting to see him then becoming, the president.
I think you know, that you have someone who is is very approachable that you can talk to. And I think that is also a similarity to, sir Phillip. it’s also someone that’s when you are with him and you, you speak, then you.
there’s a really good conversation happening and they know their topics. I think for for me, when, when I was looking at the race to the presidency I was never sure how it’s going to, feel like, because the president I knew was Sir Phillip and he was Abaco, uh, which a basketball player that he is a Paralympian.
And when you took him somewhere to a meeting, he was always this massive symbol of the movement and, I think. that’s an area where Andrew uh, had to work very [00:50:00] hard to also convince people like me that this is also possible for for the movement. But I think it was actually Phillip saying, listen it doesn’t matter whether you have a disability or not, whether you’re a man or woman, whether you’re black or white or whatever.
You need to be the right person and you need to be the right person for the job. And obviously the membership now reelected Andrew and therefore I would say that that assessment probably still stands. So
[00:50:24] Jill: wait, when, if, if Sir Phillip was ever angry, would you know, he’d.
That’s Sir Philip to you, , or did you Emmy?
[00:50:34] Alison: Well, no, .
[00:50:35] Alexis Schaefer: You can say if, if I was angry, then I would say Sir Philip. And he, he probably knew that I’m angry, but no, I he Philip always used to be Phil to have everyone and always very approachable. And then um, Jocelyn, his wife that when when he was knighted at some point in time she says, okay, you know what uh, it cannot be Sir Phil.
So, you know, uh, it’s Sir Philip. And I think she promoted this. And I think inside the organization, we also started then to go more with Philip than with Phil. And when it had to become a little bit more formal and respectful, then obviously you would also say sir Phillip or refer to him as Sir Phillip.
But I think if I would speak to him tomorrow and I would continuously say during the call um, so Philip, what do you think about this? Or so Philip, what do you think about that? I think I would put myself into a very difficult position and and very much in trouble. ,
[00:51:35] Alison: have you gotten one of the famous Andrew Parson Suggs
[00:51:39] Alexis Schaefer: Whether I get one of the fa famous,
[00:51:41] Alison: because he’s always talking about the fact that he wants to hug people, not high five, not fist bump.
[00:51:47] Alexis Schaefer: I think I probably hacked Andrew many times as I hacked other people many times. And I think I mean Corona may, may have changed this a little bit, but when you go around the world organizing the games you clearly see a difference between let’s say Japan, Brazil, Italy Great Britain and there’s certainly a tendency in certain countries with hugging people more often than in other countries.
But again, I think it’s great that when you are in such a position, And you stay true to yourself. And you still have the ability to stay approachable and you are in a, in a way also, I mean, when you ask someone, you open yourself up. And you are able to do this.
I think that is something positive and you just have to deal with the cultural sensitivities around it and and respect that uh, that in some countries the reaction may be more positive than in other countries.
But I’m I’m sure he’s well aware of that, and consequently also sometimes selective about The hugging approach. I, I think that’s a warning
[00:52:58] Alison: to
[00:52:58] Jill: us. Alison ,
[00:52:59] Alison: I have no personal boundaries,
but you, you’ve listened to us. No comment. No comment. Yeah. You’ve listened to us. Alexis, you know, I have no personal boundaries, so this is not a surprise.
[00:53:10] Jill: You’re gonna watch Paris 2024. From being outside the organization, what do you look forward to seeing? Or, okay, as I’m fond of making long answers, longer, what of your work will we see at Paris 2024. And what do you look forward to seeing there?
[00:53:28] Alexis Schaefer: The integration of the sponsored program into the Top program. So it’s f going to be first summer games where all the top partners have global rights to the Paralympics. So, it wasn’t only my work. I mean, there’s a fantastic partnership service team at the I P C and that are supporting also the, the, the I O C.
But certainly something that I, influenced heavily with my position and my in my work and I’m sure that. Nile who’s leading the partnership team. The work that is going to be done there is going to be phenomenal because we’re going to see more global communication around the Paralympic games coming from the partners than ever before.
And I think in terms of what this is going to do to change awareness and perception is something that is going to be hard to predict. But I would think it is going to be absolutely massive. It’s going to be second time that channel four is broadcasting games in Europe.
So, it’s going to be games almost like in London for them. And they have surprised the world with their creativity, with their approach towards the Paralympic games. And I think with the increased interest and sponsorship, it will give them also because. They’re also uh, commercial a non-for-profit, but still a commercial broadcaster.
And I think, give them opportunities that they didn’t have since, London to also work with partners to bring the Paralympics [00:55:00] to audiences and with their creativity. Probably like also before impact the work of other broadcasters and really act here as a um, leader of the pack.
And I think it’s, going to be great to see how they will hopefully interact with N B C and Comcast and the, the folks from LA 2028 to see how that may then also have a, a ripple on effect then on the, on the domestic coverage in la. And yeah, I mean, those are the two things that kind of like jump immediately to my intention when, when I think about, what’s still left there.
But I think to very important pieces.
[00:55:39] Jill: have to buy tickets like everybody else? Now, , I dunno why that popped to my head, but it did like,
[00:55:44] Alison: wait a second.
[00:55:46] Alexis Schaefer: I guess so
I don’t know. I I, I didn’t reach out to the I P C to ask for tickets or a way to get haven’t, haven’t planned out my summer of 2024. yeah, it’s a bit unfortunate because if I remember correctly, I looked at it and it looks like that my daughter’s still in is again in school around the Paralympics.
So, um, that is not going to work. But Yeah. The, the answer’s probably yes but I hope that I still know a couple of people that that can help me out. But I must say what I’m really looking forward to in, in a way, I’m not really sure whether I want uh, would like to see it out of the stadium or more from the screen.
I’ve never, never really. Seen Paralympic games, summer games on television because I was always there. So, uh, in that sense that’s something interesting and, and the ceremonies nowadays are so, so made for television. and it’s gonna be interesting to see how the approach that the Paris team is taking there and I think it’s, it’s great how they approach the Paralympics there, the significance that they’re giving to the Paralympic games and, and also how they’re with a ceremonies approach.
I think that that’s going to be so in, so exciting to see. And uh, maybe would be nice to have this, her Granger thing where uh, you actually can move yourself between two different places at the same time so that maybe you can watch it on television and watch it in the stadium at the same time would be so great.
But yeah. So, uh, in that sense would be fantastic to be there. But because I’ve never really done this and it was so much part of also my role, it’s probably something that I’m looking forward to, to also watch some things from from television and enjoy not being in the heat of the moment, but just look at this from an interested and excited observer point of view.
[00:57:35] Jill: Well, I hope that you will not join our ranks of listeners who have what we call feed beefs over stuff that doesn’t get covered. And I can see you going at home. I know why this sport is not on, but boy do I want it. So hopefully that will not happen.
[00:57:50] Alexis Schaefer: No, I, I, I mean, as far as I know I mean, again, check the press release, but I think there was one.
And I mean, as far as I know there is going to be coverage. And I think that’s also a great thing. I mean, to be, to be honest. Certain sports, you, you will have coverage, but you will never have everything. I mean, like table tennis for example. There are so many tables.
I mean, there is no, there’s simply no way tennis, I mean, yes, we do now have two courts, I think it was in Tokyo for tennis. But there are so many more. So there will always be that match that you’re going to lose. But I think in in Tokyo, the big, big thing was to start broadcasting the outdoor sports because those are the most, most expensive ones that you have. And for the other sports, it’s also trying to find a lot of synergies in the competition schedule so that you can be creative in, really maximizing out your, production resources. But it’s simply easier than to say, okay, let’s, think about fencing, or let’s think about power lifting, for example, and see how we can do this.
It’s, a way smaller. Setup. On the other hand, I really also hope that fencing is then working and thinking about their setup because I mean, it’s already hard as a spectator, but it’s also in in terms of your sport. to follow fencing is not easy.
And hopefully if they get the coverage it’ll also help them to think about how they can work with O B S and others to, to think about really to set the stage for the sport and that you can see actually what makes fencing so amazing.
[00:59:21] Jill: Excellent. Alexis, thank you so much. Thank you for spending so much time with us, clearing up a lot of questions we have about what goes on especially with broadcast and what we see versus what you’re working on. So we really appreciate that.
[00:59:36] Alexis Schaefer: Pleasure. Thank you.
[00:59:38] Jill: Thank you so much Alexis. You can follow Alexis on LinkedIn and he is on Twitter at Alexis on sport and we will have links to those in the show notes.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
[00:59:46] Jill: Ah, that sound means it is time for our history moment. All year long we are looking at the Seoul 1988 games as it is the 35th [01:00:00] anniversary of that event. My turn for story, and since we were talking Paralympics earlier, I thought I’d do a little overview of the Paralympic games. So Seoul won the right to host.
1988 because they weren’t the same hosts at the time necessarily. But the other bidder for them was Australia and Australia failed to follow up on their initial interest. So it was, here you go, Sol. You filled out the questionnaire. Games are yours. These games were coming off Pretty much a disaster of a games in 1984 because the US was supposed to host, they did not get enough money, so those games were split between New York and Stoke Mandeville, and they were just kind of very lack luster.
Event, not many spectators, not much, probably not much effort to put into ’em. I would, say. The Seoul organizers and the I P C learned that from that apparently, because the Seoul Paralympics is widely regarded as the first games of the modern Paralympic era. And with the Seoul Games once again, you had the Olympic coast, city was also the Paralympic coast city that hadn’t been done since Tokyo, 1964.
This time, however, the I P C had its first deal with the International Olympic Committee, and for the first time, Seoul shared venues between the two games, which
[01:01:21] Alison: seems so obvious and yet wasn’t.
[01:01:24] Jill: Right. one of the things they did not share was the Village, because Seoul built a village that was fully accessible for its Paralympians.
And that was an interesting deal because even though they shared venues, but the two organizing committees still didn’t work very closely together, especially the way they do today.
So these games took place about two weeks after the Olympics closed on October 15th and went through the 24th.
And Sol also has a distinction of having the first Paralympic torch relay. . Mm-hmm. , just over 3000 athletes from 60 countries participated. First time participant, the Soviet Union.
[01:02:02] Alison: Oh I would’ve thought they would’ve been there from the beginning.
[01:02:07] Jill: One would think,
Program had 18 sports on it. Most sports that we would recognize, swimming, athletics, archery, that kind of thing. Judo was the new sport for these games. And a demonstration sport was wheelchair tennis. Sports on the program that we don’t see anymore football seven aside because now it’s football, five aside.
Also lawn bowls and snooker. .
[01:02:31] Alison: Well, we saw snooker in the world games, didn’t we?
[01:02:34] Jill: That’s correct. There were a total of 2,203 medals across 773 events. And this is really kind of sad because there were a lot of problems with events being canceled due to lack of participation. So they didn’t have enough athletes for the event or they had a lot of athletes withdraw due to classification issue.
[01:02:55] Alison: problem.
[01:02:56] Jill: So that killed 156 events and for most of them, the athletes were already in South Korea when they got the news that they weren’t going to compete.
[01:03:08] Alison: Oh, that hurts. Because you know, a lot of these people paid their own way. It wasn’t like there was any money in the Paralympics at the time. I mean, there’s not a ton now, but then there really was nothing from the, the National Organizing Committees.
[01:03:24] Jill: Right. So, that said the level of athleticism is, Greatly increased here because organizers were able to use elite athletic standards, and that meant the, the level of competition was rising and the games were getting even more credibility as they were growing.
So, as we heard from Alexa Schaffer, Seoul created a new logo for the games. This was designed by Song Nacu and it consisted of five teks, which are ki they look like five Com. Turned on a 90 degree angle so that the big curve is on the bottom and it makes it look like a wave. Well, these five te GOs were aligned three on the top, two on the bottom, coincidentally in the same colors and orders as the Olympic ranks.
[01:04:14] Alison: Oh no. did the I P C get rule forwarded?
[01:04:18] Jill: Eventually. these were waves. that was a symbol. It was a wave. And they were supposed to symbolize the five oceans and five continents of the world. And when they put them together in that formation, it looked like a w which signified world to highlight the way sports brings the world together.
So, the I O C didn’t really notice anything about the logo until 1990 when the British Olympic Association said, Hey, that looks a lot like the Olympic rings. And then the I O C got involved and we heard from Alexis what happened after that? Mascots for these games were the go. . These are two teddy bears and in posters and things, [01:05:00] they are depicted with their legs tied together in a three-legged race and one’s holding a baton. So they’re in a race and they symbolize overcoming Adversity through cooperation, and they’re supposed to encourage people to work together peacefully and harmoniously, which I think is a lot to put onto a mascot.
[01:05:18] Alison: Especially two teddy bears , right? They have little shoulders to hold that all up.
[01:05:23] Jill: Mascots were also on the medals. They were on the backside of the medals, and that side also said 88 Seoul Korea in Braille. And then the front. Went a totally different direction than past Paralympic medals. In the past, the medals had the logo of the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation, and this time they had the Seoul 88 logo.
They had the stadium, and then they had a straight Laurel branch vertically down the left side of the medal. So we are now getting into a different era of how we think of medals as well. 46 countries won medals. The US topped the medal standings for each color of the medal with a total of 269.
West Germany was second, Great Britain was third. 551 Athletes won more than one medal. With American swimmer Tricia Zorn winning the most. She got 10 golds in individual swimming events and two relay golds. Seoul was her third games she’d go on to compete in a total of seven Paralympics and become perhaps the most decorated Paralympian in history.
These games were also revolutionary in the way that they were given the same gravitas as the Olympics. So you had a big spectacular opening ceremony. 75,000 people were in the stadium. The closing ceremony had a capacity crowd. just the idea that. You know, you’re walking in as an athlete to the opening ceremony and you’ve got this noise that you are not used to hearing, and it’s totally amazing and phenomenal.
And that just puts a, good tone for the experience. and the government also made sure all the stadiums were full. So they got church groups, they got school groups out. , the other really nice thing was that they were all given particular countries to support. I Isn’t that sweet?
Well, that’s what we
[01:07:18] Alison: saw in Tokyo too. Remember when, cuz there were no fans. They had the school groups come out and they were the only ones in the stands and how sweet that was to have these groups coming together with the children. You know, that what is all children? But this sounds like it was, was a mix.
So they sort of adopted various countries. It sounds. Yeah.
[01:07:35] Jill: And that’s, which I, I love that idea because if you’re, especially if you’re from a country that doesn’t have a lot of fans coming, but you have a built-in cheering section, how cool is that? This led to 20,000 people attending the women’s basketball, wheelchair basketball finals.
Which just incredible, incredible national media covered the events. and for the first time, that gave the feeling that the Paralympics were really as appealing as the Olympic Games. According to the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, the games cost 28.6 million. They succeeded in making a profit of 1.3 million, which was used to start a sports association for the disabled within South Korea. That’s one legacy of these games.
The other is that they greatly increased disability awareness in the country, and they showed how sports could help integrate disabled people into society. And wan, the president of the Korean Paralympic Committee noted that before the games there were. 90,000 people in the country that registered as having a disability, like with the census, that’s 0.22% of their total population.
After the games, that number increased by 550%.
[01:08:57] Alison: So people were denying that they had a disability and then. That’s monumental. Right?
[01:09:04] Jill: And that kind of increase helped put forward more legislation around better accessibility in the country. So that’s a little bit about the Seoul Games. These games have some memorable moments, including a team expulsion that we will get to in upcoming shows.
[01:09:22] Alison: Welcome to Shk fk.
[01:09:32] Jill: It is the time of the show where we travel to our very own country of Shk fk, to check in with our team, keep the flame alive. These are past guests of the show and also listeners of the show. You are all Shani to us as well. What is going.
[01:09:48] Alison: So beach volleyball player, Kelly Chang.
Finished fifth at the Doha Elite 16.
[01:09:54] Jill: Kim Roddy won gold at U S A shootings. shotgun spring selection match [01:10:00] 2023.
[01:10:00] Alison: Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble finished third at the Lara International Regatta in the Canary Islands.
[01:10:08] Jill: Anika Lesinski competed in Nordic, combined in Shoah, Germany, and she finished In 22nd place. She then competed in a Continental Cup competition in Rena, Norway with three races. She got two podium finish, one second, which was a personal best and one third, and then she placed fourth in the other race of the.
[01:10:28] Alison: Schuster and Team Schuster won the Men’s US Curling Championships. This is John’s eighth national title and they will be the American entry at the W CF World Champs in April.
[01:10:40] Jill: Race Walker, Evan Dunfee finished third in the Australian Open 20 kilometer race walking championships with his best time since 2016.
[01:10:49] Alison: Kayaker Luca Jones placed fourth in the 2023 Penrith Open as part of that race, she was also in the K one Women’s Masters category in which she came in first. She will be competing in the 2023 Australian Open this weekend.
[01:11:05] Jill: Deanna Price became the first woman ever to throw 26 meters in the weight throw, which is kind of like the hammer throw for indoor competition when she did it twice at the U S A T F indoor Championships
[01:11:18] Alison: and Speed skater, Erin Jackson, along with Kimmy Getz and Mackenzie Brown won gold in the Team Sprint event at the ISU speeds skating World Cup.
[01:11:27] Jill: Compet.
We have shooters, Tim, Sherry and Ginny Thrasher will be competing this week at the ISF World Cup in Cairo, Egypt,
[01:11:36] Alison: and in some other news back to Annika Malacinski. She was named to the US team going to the world Champs
[01:11:42] Jill: Shot Diva. Michelle Carter was named to the US Black Chambers 2023 Women of Power Power 50.
[01:11:50] Alison: Kikkan Randall recently spoke at the TEDx Anchorage 2023, the theme of which was entropy.
[01:11:56] Jill: Jackie Simoneau, our artistic swimmer was selected as one of the 25 i o c young leaders. As part of this, she will get seed funding from the I O C to design and run her own sustainable sport-based social project.
[01:12:14] Alison: And Book Club Claire was selected in the Paris 2024 ticket lottery.
[01:12:19] Jill: I’m excited for her. Very excited cuz she got a really cool pack of tickets.
[01:12:22] Alison: Listener Nick also was involved in that. He and a bunch of friends have pooled, so they’ve got a whole bunch of tickets. So let us know if you’ve gotten selected and what you’re taking
[01:12:33] Jill: home.
Yes. And listener. Nick is also going to a nice bunch of events as well. I keep seeing people in. Paris 2024 Planning group. Just, I won the lottery. I won the lottery. I got in, I got in, I got my tickets. See it on Reddit as well, and like, oh, there’s nothing. No, We have not yet heard about accreditation.
We have not yet heard about the lottery, and so we’re sitting. Hoping,
[01:12:59] Alison: and I have to say I keep commenting on people’s posts as they’re panicking. Ken Hanscomb told me not to panic. Yes. So Ken Hasko is telling you not to panic, so don’t worry if you didn’t win the lottery, there will be plenty more chances.
[01:13:14] Jill: Well, and you know, we can even just show up. They will lend us into Paris. They may not let us into the venue.
[01:13:21] Alison: They might not let me into Paris.
Beijing 2022 Update
[01:13:25] Jill: Uh, Beijing 2022. We can’t quit. You ? Not, not yet. And it’s weird because I, I went through a whole, like January, couldn’t stop obsessively thinking about Beijing and kind of once the the one year anniversary stuff, that obsession just kind of faded away. But yet we still have news.
[01:13:54] Alison: do still have news. So Camilla Valk update. WAA has formally appealed the findings of rus, the Russian AMP anti-Doping Agency. So WAA is seeking a four year ban for Val Ava and an invalidation of her results, beginning with the Russian nationals in December 25th, 2021.
So that would also invalidate the Russian team gold medal from Beijing 2022. Now it goes to the court for arbitration of. But that’s not all. The International Skating Union has also filed an appeal with Cass in support of Waa saying that age cannot be used as an excuse for an athlete not to take responsibility in a doping case, because Rashad’s findings said she was too young to know what she was doing.
So she can’t be blamed and her results can’t be taken away from her.
[01:14:49] Jill: Well, and if you’re old enough to. On the global stage, you should have some responsibility. it’s not like she was five, let’s just say that [01:15:00] she was old enough.
[01:15:01] Alison: So now we wait for casts on both fronts, and we hope that eventually the team medalists will get some
[01:15:08] Jill: medals.
[01:15:09] Alison: The court for arbitration of sport has not yet announced if they are even going to accept this appeal and review the case.
[01:15:16] Jill: So, . Two more hurdles really. Before we know this is totally well, the first hurdle being will they accept the case if they don’t game over? Team Russia won gold and they will get their medals they will have a medal ceremony if cast does take the appeal. Then the last step is this decision, so maybe this year.
we’ll have a decision. Well,
[01:15:43] Alison: I’m thinking we can have a medal ceremony for them in Milan.
[01:15:47] Jill: Oh, that’s still a long, three years away.
[01:15:51] Alison: I know. I know what I’m saying. Ugh,
[01:15:54] Jill: huh. Well, you know, hey, didn’t done a crummy note, but that’s gonna do it for this week. Let us know what you think of marketing the Paralympics and what, what should they do going forward?
[01:16:05] Alison: Email us at Flame Alive pod gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod.
And be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook. Don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about the week’s episodes. You can sign firstname.lastname@example.org
[01:16:31] Jill: next week. We are talking with Jeff.
That’s what I thought I was looking at next week. We are talking with Geoff Wightman. You may know him as a coach. You may know him as an announcer. He coaches his son Jake, in the 1500 meter, and he also announces at many athletics events in stadium. You might remember him from the World Athletics Championships that was in Oregon last year where he announced his son while he won the 1500 meter, which was a spectacular event. So we talk with him about race strategy and announcing, and it’s a ton of fun to hear his stories.
in the meantime, thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.