Luc Rampaer works as Communication Manager for the Belgian Olympic and Inter-federal Committee (COIB), which is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belgium. Rampaer was part of the COIB delegation at The World Games 2013 and 2017. In The World Games Interview of the Month, he shares his experiences with The World Games and reports on how the Belgian NOC supports its athletes before and during the multi-sport event.
What is the significance of The World Games for the Belgian NOC?
Luc Rampaer: The World Games are important for the Belgian Olympic and Inter-federal Committee. Sending a delegation to The World Games is in line with our mission to mobilise all the country's driving forces in creating a sports climate which aims for top level in Belgium. And we support the sports federations that are members of the COIB in their activities.
It is also important to note that today there is much more flexibility within the Olympic programme. This implies that the chances of a non-Olympic sport or discipline becoming part of the Olympic Games are much higher than in the past. It is therefore in our best interests to support and promote these disciplines as soon as possible.
How do you see the perception of The World Games in your country?
Luc Rampaer: There is still a lot of room for improvement! Sports such as football, cycling and, to a lesser extent, tennis and motor sports, are taking up the media field in an overwhelming way. Other sports - Olympic or not - are the victims. Nevertheless, the traditional media in Belgium do cover news about our medalists at The World Games.
And above all, online media (social networks, website and COIB newsletters) have taken over and they widely disseminate information to their followers. More and more fans of specific sports make use of these platforms, and are aware of our athletes’ achievements at The World Games.
How can an NOC help to improve the awareness of the event?
Luc Rampaer: In addition to relaying information on different platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, an NOC may send out daily press releases informing the public at large about the results or any other important news. NOCs with their structure and knowledge of the media in their countries are certainly an asset, not least because of their credibility.
Do you think The World Games help the participating non-Olympic sports in your country?
Luc Rampaer: Of course! The fact that The World Games showcases such a prestigious event stimulates the participation of non-Olympic federations or Olympic federations in disciplines that are not Olympic. We still present The World Games as the "Olympic Games" of non-Olympic disciplines. It must be said that over the years the level of organisation has become very professional, and its media impact has become more relevant. The World Games is an incentive that we, as the Belgian NOC, take advantage of when we contact the federations to consider their participation in our organisation.
Which sports in The World Games programme are particularly popular in Belgium?
Luc Rampaer: Acrobatic Gymnastics, Ju-Jitsu, Climbing, Petanque, Korfball, Waterski, Billiards, Lifesaving, Karate, Archery and probably Inline Skating are all sports that are frequently practiced in our country and for which we obtain good results.
What experience have you had with The World Games 2013 and 2017?
Luc Rampaer: My first experience in multi-sport competition in the context of my duties at COIB was the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. Since then, I have had the opportunity to participate - as a Communication Manager - in 7 Olympic Games (6 Summer and one Winter edition). Each time it was a great experience.
But I must confess that the 2013 and 2017 editions of The World Games touched me very much. Indeed, for the vast majority of competitions they are performed by athletes who are not professionals. The World Games are a real discovery for them and for me too. The enthusiasm of the athletes and spectators is contagious. Their achievements at The World Games set benchmarks when we support athletes and sports as the Belgium Olympic Committee.
What have you done to support the Belgian team?
Luc Rampaer: We do different things to support them. First, we guarantee the financing of travel, equipment and administrative, medical and paramedical support on site. Then, we organise information sessions and a day of ‘Team Building’ with all athletes, coaches and officials. This helps the people who are approached to be part of the delegation to get to know each other.
As stated above, we then communicate the ambitions, results or any other news (flag bearer, exceptional result, injury...) to the widest possible audience. Everything that is done or undertaken will be done for the athletes qualified. However we have our own selection criteria. Each application is submitted to a selection committee (of the COIB) that determines whether or not the athlete could be a potential medalist. If this is not the case, the federation can of course send its athletes to The World Games, but at its own expense.
Do you have already any ideas for The World 2021 in Birmingham, Alabama?
Luc Rampaer: Actually, not yet. But of course it’s on the agenda for things to be done soon.
What would you recommend to other NOCs?
Luc Rampaer: The World Games are an interesting experience and they deserve the support of the NOCs. They deliver a perfectly adapted structure to ensure excellent coordination, which always gets the support of the national delegations. We have the unique experience of sending athletes to international and multi-sports events. This works towards the development of sports activities and the diversity of sports. In a broader sense it serves for the benefit of all.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.