This event preceded the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and looked at the importance of Olympic sports and large scale international sporting events throughout 2014 (including the World Football Championship or the Olympic Games in Brazil) and what these involve in terms of financing, infrastructure, reputation and identity, but also security risks and geopolitics. Main speakers included Mr. Octavian Morariu, President of the Romanian Olympic and Sport Committee, Mr. Ion Tiriac, Mr. Nicolae Banicioiu, Minister for Youth and Sports and Mr. Mircea Geoana, President of the Aspen Institute Romania, moderated by Mr. Cristian Topescu.
We looked at some of the risks and gains involved in organizing large scale sporting events, such as the Sochi Olympic Games or the Summer Olympics in 2016 and how lessons from these can help Romania in creating strategies to organize alone or in partnership large scale sporting events.
By hosting large scale international competitions or by supporting solid national participation, as part of an effort to advance sporting engagement, a country benefits from both consolidating and promoting its national brand and from generating social cohesion.
Romania has hosted, in 2013, the European Youth Olympic Festival in Brasov, a highly appreciated event for both the flawless organizing effort and for the quality of the competition. By creating a positive precedent, in the context of the upcoming Olympic Winter competition in Sochi, the event opened the path for further discussions regarding the feasibility of hosting an edition of the Winter Olympic Games in Romania, in terms of infrastructure, know-how, financing opportunities, and experience. The performance of the young Romanian athletes was also remarkable, ranking our country in the 8th position from a total of 48 participant countries, in an area that is often regarded as being financially undermined. Our presence and engagement in this competition revealed once again the contrast between the great potential for development and excellence held by the young generation of Romanian athletes and the severe need of creating a coherent, visionary strategy to overcome difficulties such as financing, facilities or accessibility.
The debate over the future of the Romanian sport should engage policymakers, practitioners and participants, determining through a common effort which is the opportune strategy to be followed in order to mainstream and promote sport at all levels. Supporting sports should be regarded as a policy priority because it has the unique potential of enabling individual well-being, serving the national interest and fostering international collaboration.
Aspen dialogues revolve around specific issues highly relevant to Romania and its region in the field of democratization, human rights, including promotion of cultural and minority rights, development issues related to urbanization of the societies, the effect of EU integration processes, language and identity, sports and society, foreign policy, environment the relationship between contemporary culture and nature etc.