On July 27, the world will witness the opening of the biggest sports event: the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Before the Games have even begun, Belgium already sets its first record as an Olympic supplier.
Belgium’s delegation of companies contributing to the Olympics has never been this big before. In total, 25 companies netted contracts for over €280m, which is €180m more compared to the 2008 Olympic Games in Peking.
The facilitator of this new record is the Belgian Sports Technology Club of Agoria, which unites the Belgian companies contributing to the 2012 Olympics. The role of Agoria should not be underestimated, as their lobbying and networking are the main causes of the high number of Belgian companies contributing in London. The delegation of 25 companies also includes a number of Belgian entities of US companies, such as Barco (providing the screens for the Wembley stadium), Schrèder (providing the lighting for the access roads to the Olympic village), EVS (providing technology to slow down television images) and Lancer (providing the beverage system for the Wembley stadium).
Peter Demuynck, International Business Director of the Belgian Sports Technology Club, explains their formula for success: “It is incredibly difficult to get involved as a non-British company. Ninety per cent of the suppliers are British. Only when they do not know how to handle something themselves, do they start looking for expertise abroad. That is where we come in. Belgium is the only country that collectively addresses the promotion of its companies abroad and that is why we have been so successful.”
Experience is key in becoming an Olympic supplier. “No country wants to take a risk when organizing the Olympics,” says Demuynck. “An organizer would not want its broadcasting to suddenly malfunction with two billion viewers. The experience of our companies plays to our advantage. Companies such as Alfacam, Desso and Stageco are veterans in the organizing of such large events, which is of crucial importance to the organizers.”
Being an Olympic supplier clearly has a number of perks. An established supplier often has a foot in the door when it comes to introducing new companies, as was the case when Barco introduced turf company Desso in the Wembley stadium two years ago. Continuously being involved in the Olympics afforded Barco the title of ‘world player’ in solution services.
Once a company is recognized as a reliable supplier, its chances of being involved in the next Olympics increase, which motivates them to look ahead and prepare for future games in new markets. “We already started to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil,” says Simon Ginis, International Sales Coordinator at Schrèder. “We established a dozen offices in North- and South-America, which is necessary if we wish to compete for the Olympics in Rio.” Moreover, once a contract is signed with an organizer of the Olympics, a company is certain of its revenue stream long in advance.
AmCham Belgium’s position
AmCham Belgium welcomes the outstanding lobbying and networking of Agoria and the Belgian Sports Technology Club leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Promoting these companies abroad could lead to a sustained increase in revenue and employment and allow these companies to expand their market. Hopefully, this will not be the only Olympic record set by the Belgian delegation this year.