IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 55



03 Beijing and Beyond | Beijing Olympics
Major Milestone
Beijing Olympics 2008 –
A Showcase to the World
The Games of the XXIX Olympiad took place in
Beijing in 2008. They were held across 37
competition venues, hosting 28 summer sports with
165 men’s events, 127 women’s events and ten mixed
events. It was expected that there would be 2.5
million visitors in China during the period with
billions watching worldwide.
As one of the most significant occasions in any
calendar this was an excellent opportunity for
International SOS in China to showcase its services
to the government, the organisers and sponsors,
and our own clients.
Thanks to our partnership with the Beijing Red Cross
we were able to play a major assistance role in
support of the Games. The Red Cross was appointed
as an assistance provider to the event and organised
a large team of volunteers to service the first aid
stations at various venues. We added further
support by providing assistance services to sports
participants, umpires and international tourists.
We actively worked with the Beijing Olympic Games
Committee for two years in the run up to the games.
We were appointed as the sole assistance provider
to the insurers of the games, and – together with
our partners at the Beijing Red Cross – provider of
choice for the Committee; this was another
important step for us.
For companies, whether foreign or domestic, the
games offered a great marketing opportunity as
well as the ideal venue for entertaining clients.
Visa International alone hosted 9,000 guests at the
games. We specifically targeted the key sponsors
and major multinationals attending the games to
present our integrated medical, security and
concierge client offering.
Credit: Corbis
It was a fantastic opportunity but it presented lots
of challenges too. Whilst Beijing, Shanghai and
other city centres had premier standard hotels,
healthcare at the time was still rather variable.
Those unaccustomed to living in China could find
the administration frustrating. Ambulances were not
of an international standard and waiting times could
be lengthy. Payment for treatment was usually
required by cash in advance, with credit cards rarely
accepted. Local hospitals had limited experience of
dealing with international medical insurers, which
could be a barrier to receiving prompt attention.
Problems with air pollution and the heat and humidity
of August were additional health challenges. Cultural
differences, security fears and simply dealing with
so many people raised further concerns, as did the
fact that the games were being held across seven
different cities. There was a lot to do.
We created a dedicated Olympics team to liaise
with the organisers and support our clients. We
were closely involved in the Preparatory Games
too; these were held in the months before the main
event to test the venues and systems.
We made every effort to make sure we had the right
set of services our clients would need before, during
and even after the event, including the Paralympics
which took place immediately after the Olympics.
An extensive range of medical, concierge and
security services were put at our clients’ disposal.
Our Assistance Centre was geared up to receive a
high volume of expected calls and the clinics
prepared themselves for extra visits. On-site 24 hour
clinics were set up at key hotels. A full team of
medical, security and operational experts was on
constant standby and extra help was brought in
from Singapore and elsewhere.
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