Tuesday, February 12, 2013

France: Interview with Franck Tchavouchian, the Sheriff of the Games



Interview with Franck Tchavouchian, the Sheriff of the Games

Franck Tchavouchian joined the Normandie 2014 Organising Committee in June 2012 as event security/health and safety manager. His job? To manage all security and safety related issues for the horses, the competitors and the 500,000 expected spectators during the World Equestrian Games fortnight. With twenty-five years of experience in sports event management, this will be Franck “the Sheriff of the Games” first equestrian event. He has in fact already worked at the Parc des Princes football stadium, the Stade de France – France’s national stadium, on the Dakar Rally, the Tour de France race and not forgetting the French Open. This will be yet one more great adventure …

When we start talking about security or safety issues, what exactly does that mean for a major sporting event like the the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy?

We’re talking about guaranteeing the safety and security of both people and property.

There are three major aspects to cover when it comes to the Games: 1) Security - that includes general and property guarding services, 2) Safety - preventative measures to protect people and property (e.g. fire risks), 3) Health and safety - security services don’t usually handle this third category but we’re breaking new ground here with the Games! This is also my first equestrian competition after twenty-five years of experience in sporting events…So this will be a first in more ways than one!

Bearing in mind the exceptional nature of our event, that’s to say ten disciplines in eight different sites, does this bring any specific security challenges?

Yes, of course! First of all, we will be in the global spotlight and it’s the first time this type of competition is being held in France. Then there are the expectations and long-term benefits (15 years) for the region of Normandy to consider and the FEI and sports directorate requirements... All these particular points mean that we can’t leave anything to chance!

And don’t forget, we have to manage ten different events, each with their own specific requirement. This means ten times more constraints for us to deal with compared to an event like the French Open - each equestrian discipline has its own regulations.

There will also be eight competition sites for us to handle, some of which are outdoor whilst others are indoor: the Caen exhibition park “Parc des Exposition”, the Zénith centre, Hippodrome de la Prairie racecourse, the D’Ornano Stadium, Le Pin National Stud, Sartilly, Deauville and St Lô.

We are therefore going to work very closely with the FEI and the different departments of the Organising Committee so that we can get everything ready for big day!

What will be 2013’s major tasks for your department?

We have three main tasks for 2013: 1) to identify each department’s needs 2) to issue calls for tenders and 3) to make a pre-selection of service providers who match our requirements.

We will have to take into account the specific demands of each discipline and each department to be able to identify all their needs properly. For example, the sports department will ask us to recruit staff to ensure public safety along the endurance course. It’s our role to understand and anticipate their requirements before deciding upon the type of person we need to call in (professionals or volunteers) and how to position these people along the course. As for the call for tenders, we’re not going to reinvent what’s already been done before: we’re going to base our strategy on what already happens at other major sporting events. We will then simply adapt it to the particular needs of our event.

The selection of service providers will be divided into three key areas: environment, place and expertise of each. Seeing as all three areas need to be managed differently (security, health and safety), it’s more than likely that we will go for several different service providers to guarantee the very best service. It will also be vital to anticipate law enforcement requirements. This does of course depend on the number of people expected at the event: we’re estimating about 500,000 over the course of two weeks!

You’ve still got 559 days to go before the event, but do you already know what type of security strategy needs implementing during the games in 2014? Or how you are going to safeguard the security of an expected 500,000 visitors?

Fortunately for us and thanks to our extensive experience, we can draw parallels with existing security, health & safety organisation at other events. As we see it, it’s a mix between what happens at the Parc des Princes football stadium, the Stade de France stadium, the Tour de France cycling race, the French Open and the FIFA World Cup™. We are basing our model on these events but as each event is unique we will be adapting it to the particularities of the World Equestrian Games.

For the moment, we have a basic strategy in mind but the more meetings we have, the more we have to reconsider and fine tune certain points. It’s therefore highly likely that the resources will be upped by 20% in the coming months. One thing’s for sure: we’re looking at everything in minute detail to make sure that nothing disturbs the event!

*About Franck Tchavouchian: twenty-five years of experience in major sports event management, with ten years at the head of his own security/health & safety consultancy created in 2002. In particular, Franck has overseen the Tour de France cycling race, the French Open and the Paris-Dakar Rally.

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