Francesco Ricci Bitti is a former tennis player, engineer and sports administrator from Bologna, Italy.
He is President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).
He is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, and held the same position for Rio 2016.
Ricci Bitti is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Committee and Foundation Board, as well as a member of the SportAccord Convention, where he served as President from 2015 to 2017. He is Honorary Life President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), having acted as President from 1999 to 2015. From 2006 to 2012, he served as IOC Member and Executive Board member of the National Olympic Committee of Italy (CONI).
Following the interview to Mr. Ferriani, President of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) on the basis of Good Governance and the current worldwide situation, where “We have to be chameleons, not dinosaurs”, we asked to Mr Ricci Bitti to share his opinion with WRF.
Mr Ricci Bitti, what is the Good Governance and why is this term widely used at the moment?
As a pioneer of Good Governance in sport, I would like to stress the fact that this term is quite fashionable over the last period and sometimes it is improperly interpreted.
Governance basically represents the quality of the management system and the appropriateness of the organisations whenever they need to respond to the specific needs regarding structure and dynamics of the organisation itself. A peculiar term that stands for Governance is accountability.
Good Governance, that has its origins in the business field, is a latecomer to the sports world. The main reasons seem clear:
The growing importance of sport in the society and the consequent media coverage;
The well-deserved preservation of the traditional operational autonomy of sport;
The protection of sports operators, who are often volunteers, in this increasingly complex picture of sports world.
I am very pleased and motivated by the fact that the ASOIF project is already at its “fourth round” and is recognised by international public authorities: it is a concrete example of the development of Good Governance and a stimulating factor for the international federations that commit to comply with standards of excellence.
What is the first teaching that the Covid-19 outbreak reminded you?
And, after a year of adaptation and “forced cohabitation” with the Pandemic, what is the last?
The first important thing I learnt, or remembered, is that health and, therefore, environmental sustainability, must get the top priority in the attention of society, especially among young people.
On the other hand, the latest teaching for me is that Covid-19 accelerates all the worldwide societies trends; at the same time, as every negative phenomenon, it offers the chance to bring real innovations in every organisation, including the sports world. The two priorities from the perspective of the international federations are the revision and the consolidation of the calendar of the main competitions and the development of a digital strategy, improving the corresponding virtual involvement of every discipline. There is a dual objective: to get in touch with the young fans and eventually create a new source of income to reinvest in the sport movement.
With regard to integration instead, what do you think about the 2+2 format of the Para-Rafting teams? And about the mix category of the RX, with two women and two men who can choose their position on the raft according to their peculiar strength and technique?
In the current period Gender Equality and integration of the Paralympic activities are priorities in the sports world; therefore I find the disciplines with mixed teams an absolute current and brilliant idea. The search for formats more attractive to athletes, broadcasters, live and virtual spectators and is also remarkable and in common with every sport that want to grow. It is a great starting point.