When will the Olympics reach a 50/50 gender balance? Is esports really a viable Olympic programme proposition? Can China realistically achieve its objective of introducing 300 million people to winter sports participation by 2022?
These questions, plus a fair number of others, are tackled in the latest edition of the Leaders Podcast with IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, who spoke to James Emmett over a jasmine tea in a hotel lobby in Beijing, hours before the final round of the Infiniti 2017 Air and Style Beijing FIS Snowboard Big Air World Cup event.
McConnell worked on the organising committee for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, moving to Switzerland thereafter to take a role in the sports department at the IOC. He joined rugby’s global governing body, then the International Rugby Board, in 2002, and was Rugby World Cup Tournament Director for 11 years, before rejoining the IOC in 2013 as Sports Director.
McConnell is a key modernising force within the Olympic movement, tasked with integrating new, youth-oriented sports and disciplines into the programme. Golf and rugby joined the programme for the Rio Games in 2016, but there will be five new sports at Tokyo 2020, as well as host of new disciplines in existing sports, and a new mixed relay events too.
Listen to the episode below, and subscribe to the Leaders Podcast on your chosen podcast platform.