What the Olympics signified for events in APAC

In partnership with the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, CSM hosted a session with industry experts to discuss the Return of Live Events in the Asia region.

Lesley Murphy from the CSM team in Asia met virtually with Seb Coe Non-Executive Chairman of CSM and President of World Athletics who joined live from the Olympics in Tokyo. Vicky Jones Director of Red Consulting and the Hong Kong Open, Sammie Milne, Senior Brand Partnerships Manager, HSBC Global Brand Partnerships, and James Irvine, General Manager (Commercial), Kai Tak Sports Park completed the panel of experts for the discussion.

The Olympics has been a symbol of hope for those in the sport and live events industry, reminding the world of the power that sport can play in bringing people together and inspiring the next generation. Its return marked a significant milestone, and sparked questions around what is next for live events in the region, especially in Hong Kong, and the ongoing challenges that still need to be overcome.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:



It is important to remember who the key client it is and have an appetite to rebuild.

In the face of continuous uncertainty and disruption, those in the industry must continue to remind themselves of who their key client is and ensure they are doing what is possible to deliver an experience, despite it being unusual or different.

In the case of the Olympics, only 70% of athletes have one opportunity to perform at the event in their lifetime and have devoted over half their lives to be there. With the athletes being the key client of the IOC, organisers pushed to proceed and ensured they were prioritising the athlete experience.



In a time of disruption and change, it is important to focus on people.

There have been numerous setbacks for those in the industry over the last 18 months and it continues to prove challenging. In an environment where hurdles continue to present themselves, it is the people who should be prioritised in order to sustain business growth.

The people that make up teams and organisations need to be supported through the disappointment, the fatigue, and allowed time to refocus to successfully take things forward.


Organisers must continue to plan for all eventualities and innovate.

The need to explore new technologies, new formats, and flexible arrangements will be the way forward for some time. Digital innovation continues to bring new opportunities for brands and rights holders in the absence of the full return of live events.

Innovation is crucial for event formats and audience engagement, but also for health and safety protocols in venue operations, for example, contact tracing and contactless payments.


Challenging relationships for greater collaboration and creativity is crucial.

As we continue to move forward in an unpredictable world, it is important for those in the industry to continue to challenge the relationships they hold – whether it be with rights holders, governing bodies, agencies or brands.

In Asia, we can take learnings from overseas parties that have done it differently. More information sharing on health and safety, the movement of athletes, and new forms of monetisation is needed. Collaboration between rights holders and governing bodies is key to replicating overseas experiences. Brands must continue to challenge agencies and rights holders to drive creativity around the use of partnership assets.


The eco-system of sport is an important beacon for so many and should not be underestimated.

Sport can play a huge role in making change for businesses and communities. It is often overlooked by governments but is extremely important for sectors across the board.
We should not underestimate the power that sport has in achieving health benefits for businesses and the wider community, but also in bringing joy and optimism when it’s needed most. New formats and forms of engagement continue to demonstrate the value of sport investment, even during an uncertain time for live experiences.

Future proofing must be done now. There is no going back to the way things were done before.

The pandemic has forced the industry to do business differently and has created an urgency to address how they can be re-engineered for the long-term.
There is more onus on organisations to take responsibility in driving a community impact, and to re-look at how events can be delivered in a more cost-efficient and sustainable way. They must operate in a way which better reflects how younger generations view the world, and more pressure will exist for events and partnerships to drive positive change for the communities in which they operate to enable recovery and long-term growth.