Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy: final evaluation report April 2018

This evaluation report of the Commonwealth Games 2014 legacy summarises previous findings and sets out new findings since the last report in 2015.

Chapter 5: Sports Infrastructure, Sports Participation and Physical Activity

The evidence from previous major events

Theories on how major sporting events impact on population levels of sport and physical activity participation tend to focus on individual level factors. It is suggested that major sporting events can influence participation through a 'demonstration effect' i.e. inspiring increased frequency of participation by existing sports participants; renewed participation in lapsed participants and new sport uptake by existing participants. For those who are currently sedentary or "pre-contemplative" the review found that encouragement to consider involvement in physical activity could be fostered by a "festival effect" in a celebration that transcends purely sport.

The international evidence for a relationship between hosting major sporting events and improving population level sports participation and physical activity is inconclusive at best and research to date would suggest that this should not be the sole, or primary, aim of hosting major events. [37] However, a systematic review concluded that while there is no evidence for an 'inherent demonstration effect', a potential demonstration effect might deliver increases in frequency of sport participation and re-engagement of lapsed participants if 'properly leveraged' by organisers. 37

The London 2012 Olympic legacy evaluation reported increases in sport participation that were attributed to the impact of the event and legacy programmes. However, subsequent data have shown some decline in sport participation, although much of the increase since 2005/6 has been retained. The House of Lords Select Committee report on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy interpreted this data as evidence that a step-change in participation levels has not occurred. [38]

However, major sporting events commonly leave an infrastructure legacy and there can be a boost to host nation sporting performance. The 'white elephant' risk of disused, or poorly used, venues post-event is thought to have become less of an issue as awareness has increased of the importance of early planning for post Games use. Careful planning and embedding of legacy activities in existing strategies on sport and physical activity are required alongside a comprehensive and cohesive long-term vision for event venues to ensure their long-term use by communities. The literature also shows there is no inevitable improvement of grassroots active infrastructure from hosting major multi-sports events; rather it must be planned for. [39]

Evidence of how hosting a major sporting event impacts on the sporting performance of the host nation is limited. High performance sporting success is influenced by many factors beyond the control of government and partners. There is evidence from the evaluation of the London Olympics 2012 that the performance of Team GB was enhanced as a result of London hosting the event. This was considered to be a result of increased funding and performance development programmes which led to more careful monitoring and improvement in talent identification and greater support for high performance athletes, sports and science medicine and high performance coaching development.

Key findings from Glasgow 2014


  • Scotland's infrastructure for high performance sport had clearly been enhanced since 2008. These facilities are of a standard to host international competition across a range of sports including swimming, diving, cycling, bowling, hockey and badminton. This had contributed to an increased ability to attract international events and competitions, as set out earlier, a total of 57 events of UK or International standing at XX Commonwealth Games venues had been secured and a further 8 events in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth sports but outwith commonwealth venues (Annex 1).
  • The development and subsequent use of sports infrastructure by local communities has continued and had not faced the difficulties experienced by some other major events. There is evidence of increases in community use and participation. There are now over 6.4 million annual attendances at sports facilities across Glasgow, representing an 18.2% rise since 2009. [40] Membership of the Glasgow Club health and fitness network has also increased, with adult memberships increasing by 98% from 21,181 to 41,962 between 2009 and 2016 [41] . Around 71,000 young people are members of Glasgow Young Scot and KidzCard and over 22,500 are juniorsport club members. There has also been an increase in participation in sports programmes. For example, attendances at Glasgow Life's gymnastics pathways programmes have risen from 86,206 in 2015/16 to 114,423 in 2016/17, representing an increase of 32%.
  • There is also evidence of high levels of satisfaction with facilities. According to the Scottish Household Survey, levels of satisfaction with community sports facilities are high and stable at 87% in Scotland and 92% in Glasgow in 2016. [42]
  • As part of sportscotland's national legacy developments, community sport hubs ( CSHs) continue to bring together sports clubs and local partners to develop and grow sport in communities across Scotland. [43] Since 2010-11 sportscotland has invested up to £12 million in the development of community sport hubs across Scotland. There are currently 181 operational hubs across 31 local authorities, with 54% of planned hubs based in schools. At the end of 2016-17 there were 1,248 sports clubs involved with hubs, with 149,803 active hub members, and 14,632 people delivering sport and physical activity in hubs. More detail about the CSHs can be found at
  • sportscotland has also invested over £9.4 million in 184 projects through the Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund, which aimed to support local communities to improve their physical activity infrastructure, encouraging more people to be active or participate in sport and take pride in their local community. [44] A wide range of facilities have been match-funded including skate parks, outdoor and adventure facilities, multi-use paths and tennis court upgrades.
  • Increased investment into Scottish governing bodies of sport in the run-up to the Games improved capacity within their pathways to support increases in interest and participation as a result of the Games. [45] From 2013-14 to 2016-17 Scottish governing body playing membership in the Glasgow 2014 sports increased by 10%. In particular Netball Scotland, Scottish Gymnastics, Scottish Hockey and Scottish Squash have experienced significant long-term increases to their membership base.
  • Since it opened in 2012, over 80,000 members of the public have taken part in Glasgow Sport's accreditation sessions at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. British Cycling's women's led ride 'Breeze' programme in Glasgow has also seen an enormous growth following the XX Commonwealth Games. In 2014/15, the programme delivered six organised rides with 21 participants. In 2016/17, this increased to 124 rides and 658 participants. Across all British Cycling recreational programmes there were 13,006 participants in 2016/17.
  • Developing coaches and volunteers in sport is also a critical component of building capacity to support increases in participation. From 2008-09 to 2016-17, 25,265 people achieved UK Coaching Certificate qualifications at Level 1, 7,306 at Level 2 and 397 at Level 3 in Scotland. To support Sports Governing Bodies to prepare and respond to an anticipated rise in demand following the Games, sportscotland developed the Class of 14 coach project. Thirteen of the commonwealth sports engaged in this project and together they trained over 2,500 coaches .
  • Within Glasgow, there are currently nearly 4,000 people participating in sports coaching training through initiatives such as Coach Core, which provides opportunities for young people to deliver sports coaching and events in local communities. Alongside the formal skills development, sport and physical activity provides abundant volunteering opportunities. Over 4,100 volunteers were involved in sports clubs in 2017, a 110% increase on 2009.
  • The findings of the GoWell East survey of residents in the former Athletes' Village explored residents' satisfaction and use of local sports facilities. Residents rated sporting facilities in their area more highly than people in Glasgow as a whole, with 49% saying they were very good compared to 40% across Glasgow. Far more owners (60%) than social renters (29%) reported being users of sports facilities. The vast majority of social renters (88%) who used a sports facility accessed one in the East End, while a quarter (25%) of owner-occupier users accessed a non-local facility. However, this difference in local usage of sports facilities was evident for men but not for women. These data suggest that, overall, residents are making use of the legacy sporting infrastructure. [46]
  • A different story emerges from a small scale qualitative study of long standing residents in the Dalmarnock area who were asked specifically about the Emirates Arena. Although this group saw it as a positive landmark and an attraction for their neighbourhood, few had visited it, citing a lack of knowledge and perceived high costs as their reasons. [47]

High performance sport

  • The impact of the Games on high performance sport is clear, at least in the short-term. A record number of Scottish athletes met the minimum selection criteria for the Games; with Team Scotland fielding its largest ever team of 310 athletes, compared to 202 in Manchester 2002.
  • Team Scotland secured 53 medals – 19 Gold, 15 Silver and 19 Bronze and finished 4th in the overall medal table. This had surpassed their Commonwealth Games target of breaking their previous record 33-medal haul of Edinburgh 1986 and the previous gold medal haul of 11 in Melbourne 2006. These medals were achieved by a record number of medallists, 63 in Glasgow as compared to 37 in Edinburgh 1986. Four new Commonwealth records were set by Scottish athletes and a total of 204 Scottish athletes broke into high performance sport and made their Commonwealth Games debut.
  • Team Scotland also competed with distinction across all sports in the 2014 Games, fielding athletes and teams in all 17 sports plus the four para sports, and contesting 309 events. They won medals in 10 of the 17 sports and finished in the top eight in 160 events.
  • Scotland has continued to punch above its weight on the world stage. With 81 Scottish athletes selected for Team GB and Paralympics GB, and 27 Scottish athletes winning 30 medals, Scotland made a significant contribution to Team GB and Paralympics GB finishing second in the medal tables at the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. These were record numbers of Scottish medallists and Scots on Team GB and Paralympics GB at an away Summer Olympics and Paralympics.


  • Population level survey data on adult sport and physical activity largely show a stable picture over the last few years. The percentage of the population meeting the MVPA physical activity guidelines has remained stable in Scotland at 64%. [48] For the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area the 2016 figure was 61% which has remained stable over the last two years.
  • In 2016, 79% of the population of Scotland had taken part in sport and physical activity, including walking, in the previous four weeks. The longer view shows a reasonably steady increase over time from 72% in 2007 and 75% in 2011, with rises in adults driven by recreational walking. [49] Recreational walking rose from 59% in 2012 to 67% in 2016. Adult sports participation (excluding walking) in Scotland has remained pretty constant over time at just over half of the population, 51% in 2016. The comparable figure for Glasgow is 48%.
  • National survey data also show that the frequency of participation in physical activity and sport among those already participating in Scotland has increased since 2007. The proportion of the population reporting frequent participation (on more than 14 days in the past 4 weeks) increased from just over a third (36 per cent) in 2007, to just under a half (48 per cent) in 2016, suggesting that the active are becoming more active.
  • Children's participation in sport was stable in Scotland at 67% in 2013 and 68% in 2016. Girls' sports participation appeared to have declined in 2013 (at 63%) but then showed a rise to 66% in 2015 and a further rise to 67% in 2016. Girls adherence to the MVPA guidelines [50] , however, had remained steady (65% in 2013 and 65% in 2016) suggesting that the rise in sports participation came from the already active group. Overall adherence to the MVPA guidelines among children has continued to improve slowly.
  • The GoWell East study included an exploration of the impact of the Games on physical activity levels in the locality. [51] The research found a decrease in the percentage of people meeting MVPA guidelines between 2012 and 2016 from 62% to 53%. Nonetheless, the 2016 figure is close to the national figure for adults living in the most deprived quintile of neighbourhoods across Scotland (54%). The fall is not explained by a change in the local population. The wider literature on the demonstration effect suggests some effect can be seen in the build-up to a major event or 'pregnancy' period, and it is likely that these findings reflect that. An earlier prospective assessment highlighted the potential challenges in increasing levels of physical activity among residents, in particular because there are many adults in the area with long-term health problems. [52]
  • However, the GoWell East study did find that the proportion of residents walking in their local area had increased from 40% in 2012 to 55% in 2016. In addition, people in the area were more likely to use active travel than the general population of Scotland, with the rates remaining relatively stable in the east end between 2012 and 2016 at 33% and 35% respectively. The corresponding rates for Scotland as a whole are 16% and 15%. Rates of active travel continue to increase and remain higher than city and national rates. This may reflect the location and the socio-economic profile of the resident population, but improvements to the local environment and infrastructure for active travel (paths and cycleways) delivered as part of regeneration, may also have contributed to this outcome.

Key lessons and developments

It is clear that XX Commonwealth Games partners have optimised the opportunities from the new and improved infrastructure both for attracting major events and championing community use. There has been significant success in attracting other major international and national events, with more events also at the bidding stage. Further, all new and refurbished Games venues were completed and opened to the public in advance of the Games and there was rapid reopening post Games with all venues once again available to the public within 12 weeks of the Closing Ceremony.

In terms of high performance sport, the legacy has been to ensure an infrastructure of well-defined performance pathways to help achieve success at future Games. [53] In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games sportscotland developed the Mission Control process. It supported the long-term development of Scottish governing body of sport performance systems and identified and tracked actions for improvement in the run up to Glasgow 2014. The main focus for improvement was medal success and the delivery of key performance outcomes. Since 2014 sportscotland has continued to develop and refine the Mission Control process, focusing on building performance pathways that deliver medal success at Major Games, including the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. A number of athletes and team have used Glasgow Life venues (including Tollcross Pool and the National Hockey Centre) for their preparation for the Gold Coast Games 2018.

The international evidence shows that hosting a major event is not, in and of itself, likely to have an automatic, positive impact on population levels of sports participation and physical activity. There are so many factors that influence the nature and levels of both. Overall, the XX Commonwealth Games has not resulted in a step change in population levels of physical activity in Scotland. However, overall participation rates have remained relatively stable in Scotland and there is evidence that those already active are more active.

The Health and Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament concluded in its interim report that they saw 'no current evidence on an active legacy from the 2014 Games' and in its final report asked the Scottish Government whether it considers an active legacy can still be achieved. [54] This final Glasgow 2014 legacy analysis suggests that the results are more nuanced and there is evidence of improved infrastructure (places), resources (people), increased participation at Glasgow Life venues, new pathways and increased opportunities. Further, hosting major events provides some pace and momentum for existing or new Physical Activity Strategies, in particular by grasping the opportunities offered by the new infrastructure (places) and new resources (people).

In this spirit, key partners involved in legacy considered the event as an opportunity to provide momentum to their strategic work on sport and physical activity. The Scottish Government's launch of the Physical Activity Improvement Plan (2014) and the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework (2015) [55] aimed to provide a broader strategy for physical activity that could ride the momentum of the Games, based on the Toronto Charter. [56] The Charter is a call to all countries to help make physical activity a priority for all.

The Active Scotland Outcomes Framework has increased in importance since 2015, as all policy and practice in sport and physical activity across Scotland is increasingly becoming aligned to the outcomes. Delivery of the framework is moving forward under four themes co-produced by partners (Active Society, Active Places, Active Lives and Active Systems). These themes align with the WHO strategic objectives in the Draft Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030. [57] This activity will be overseen by the Active Scotland Development Group which includes senior members of relevant partners and reports to the Minister for Public Health and Sport.

Figure 2 – Street Soccer

"Street Soccer Scotland has been a proud partner of Legacy 2014. Through investment and support from the Legacy team, we have been able to grow our operations across Scotland. From operating mainly across Glasgow and Edinburgh, we expanded to Aberdeen, Dundee and set up additional projects in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. We also created dedicated Women's and Young People services as a result of the partnership. The support from Legacy 2014 also increased our sustainability by investing in key staff, allowing us to create new opportunities for partnerships and investment. A recent independent study from Regeneris, reported that during 2016, our Social Return on Investment was £10 for every £1 spent."

David Duke, Founder of Street Soccer Scotland.

Since the Games, legacy funding has continued for active legacy projects. This has allowed the expansion and development of some interventions and organisations (see for example Street Soccer in Figure 2). Further, and in line with the evidence, a Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund of £1 million was awarded to Spirit of 2012 in 2015 to scale up and sustain or mainstream projects that were already addressing the issues of getting the inactive active and supporting the active to stay active (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund

The Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund supported almost 8,000 people in 11 communities in Scotland to become more active and learning from the Fund has helped grow a body of evidence about what works in helping the inactive become active, and start their active journey. The Fund supported Active Scotland outcomes and achieved the following:

  • 1 in 3 participants increased their overall level of activity
  • 32% met or exceed the recommended minimum of physical activity
  • Increased the average number of days active per person

The Fund also had a positive impact on wellbeing with participants reporting increased happiness, reduced anxiety and improved life satisfaction. Through the Fund we learned:

  • Person centred approaches work best
  • Small changes make the biggest difference
  • Becoming active is a journey
  • Getting active is a series of small steps

The Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund also aimed to share learning on effective interventions and effective and efficient scaling up and delivered through an on-line toolkit for practitioners called THRIVE [58] . The evaluation of the Physical Activity Fund explored activity levels of beneficiaries and showed considerable success in both recruiting previously inactive people and in helping previously inactive people to undertake some activity [59]

In November 2016 Glasgow Life launched their Legacy Framework for Sport and Physical Activity. [60] The Framework sets out the City's plans for broadening and extending the legacy of the Games beyond the period of the City's Glasgow 2014 Legacy Framework 2009-19. This Framework seeks to support and encourage involvement in both sport and physical activity across Glasgow, with a refreshed focus on the physically inactive. Alongside the launch of the Framework, Glasgow Life has widened the membership of the Glasgow Sport and Active Group to include those organisations and people leading on strategies in support of physical activity such as the Glasgow's Strategic Plan for Cycling, Glasgow's Play Strategy and Glasgow's Open Space Strategy. It is envisaged that the extended group will work over the next two years to develop an overarching physical activity strategy for the City.


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