State Strategies for Leveraging Sports Mega-Events

The context of this Leverhulme Trust supported programme is the ever increasing investment in elite sport and elite sports mega-events (SMEs), which has grown exponentially in recent years.

2016 Stadium - By Brazilian Government [CC BY 3.0]By Brazilian Government [CC BY 3.0 br], via Wikimedia Commons

The contest between states to host SMEs is now fierce and the majority of governments expect a return on their investment in the form of 'legacies', despite the fact that the evidence for the stated claims around such events (for example: 'inspiring a nation' and increasing mass participation in sport; economic benefits from increased tourism; an increase in a state's international prestige) is relatively thin on the ground.

Against this backdrop the aim of this network is to work towards an analysis of actual versus expected (or 'hoped for') outcomes from the events and provide a clearer understanding of what does and does not work. What did the state/city set out to achieve through the sports mega-event and what actually happened? This will be undertaken through the work of a multi-disciplinary network (see institutions below) of scholars. These partners from the selected countries will offer first-hand, culturally sensitive analyses of the SMEs that took place or are taking place in their respective states.

the majority of governments expect a return on their investment in the form of 'legacies' from elite sports mega-events

The ‘core’ network combines world-class institutions (e.g. USP, the highest-ranking University in Latin America) with highly-rated/skilled individuals (e.g. Prof Rubio and oral history).


Five of the institutions in the partnership (US/India/Aus/Brazil/SA) either house or have access to either archives or data bases of materials relevant for the production of the syntheses of in-country sports mega-events, while others in the network (SA/UK/Canada) have strong institutes and departments with particular expertise in sport politics from which to launch in-country investigations.

Associate members of the network come from:

  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • China
  • New Zealand.

For more information see The International Network on the Sport Policy Centre website.

What will be the outcomes of this research?

  1. To produce culturally-sensitive in-depth analyses of the rationale, proposed legacies and leveraging strategies and the actual outcomes and benefits of SMEs. To date little systematic, evidence-based research exists that could inform future would-be SME hosts or a debate about the current SME 'model', which is increasingly expensive
  2. The output from this network will inform debate on the future of sports megas by providing an evidence base from which future hosting decisions can be made through academic channels and media and user-friendly formats to inform and engage public opinion in hosting states and - importantly - would-be hosts.

People involved

Main partners:

  • PI  Dr Jonathan Grix, University of Birmingham;
  • Professor Katia Rubio (Brazil);
  • Professor David Black (Canada);
  • Professor Laurence Chalip (US);
  • Professor Mitu Sengupta (India);
  • Professor Scarlett Cornilessen  (South Africa) and
  • Professor Bob Stewart (Aus)