Nick Bitel, Chair of UK Sport’s Major Events Steering Group, spelled out the importance of hosting major events on home soil as he opened the 2004 Major Events Conference in London.
Looking back over the last 12 months which have seen an impressive 11 major events secured through UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme, Bitel stressed the role a collaborative, partnership approach plays in this success. Referring to the recently won 2008 World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester, Bitel said: "If ever there was a bid that demonstrated a partnership approach it was this. It could not have been won without the support not only of the Federation, but also Manchester City Council, the North West Development Agency and UK Sport."
Looking at the impact staging events can have on performance, Bitel pointed to the example of cycling as a sport which successes on the world stage have been helped by its commitment to bringing events to the UK.
"Those within the sport recognise the part that major events have had in the success enjoyed at Athens by Britain’s cyclists," he said. "It is absolutely no coincidence that British Cycling has been pursuing an ambitious programme of attracting showpiece events to this country.
"2004 saw the first of a three-year programme of the World Cup Track Classic in Manchester substantially funded by UK Sport. The next few years will see an increased programme with the Women’s World Cup Road Race being staged at Celtic Manor in 2005, and the excellent news that British Cycling has managed to win the right to stage the World Mountain Bike Championships in Fort William in 2007."
Bitel also praised the enthusiasm for sport among the British public which was shown so well at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. "Anyone who had the privilege of being in Athens for the Games will agree that the level of support from British fans was outstanding," he said.
"For me it was no surprise – I have seen it throughout Britain at events. Whether it was the ITU World Cup Triathlon in Manchester or the World Junior Archery in Shropshire, I have heard praise heaped upon the crowds and volunteers by international governing bodies."