This review considers the evidence for legacy from major sporting events. It looks across the four themes of the Commonwealth Games Evaluation Project (flourishing, sustainable, active and connected).

3. Overview of available evidence

Legacy as a 'concept' and goal

3.1 Legacy is a relatively recent concept in the history of major sporting events, particularly legacy that is broader than economic impact. A focus on legacy was something that evolved around and after the Sydney Olympics (Garcia, 2014). Since then it has been increasingly central to the rationale behind hosting major events, including the London 2012 Olympics and the upcoming Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

3.2 The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, was the first to make an explicit assessment of the economic impact of the Games (Kasimati, 2003). In the years following this, major sporting multi-sports events have increasingly recognised the economic contribution such events can make, and increasingly made explicit plans to maximise the benefit of this. This economic focus has generally grown to comprise a broader approach which tries to ensure that the benefits of the Games reach as wide a range of people as possible. Given this long history of investigating the economic effects, the evidence-base in our flourishing theme is much more substantial than other areas. As a result, around 50% of the evidence within the review is under our flourishing theme (see Chapter 1 for an outline of each of the themes).

3.3 Alongside the economic focus, there has been a growing focus on increasing physical activity and sport participation for the wider population. The Sydney 2000 Olympics sparked research into this area. Of our evidence base, around 20% relates to the active theme, although high quality empirical research is still very limited.

3.4 The link between major sporting events and regeneration has received a lot of focus over the past two decades. This interest was sparked by the regeneration of Barcelona surrounding the 1992 Olympics. There is a substantial and growing evidence base in this area. Alongside our other sustainable outcomes - demonstrating environmental responsibility and strengthening communities - this area was covered in about 20% of the evidence within this review.

3.5 It is only more recently that legacy goals related to cultural engagement and learning have become high on Games-organisers' agendas. As a result, the evidence in this area is very limited. Therefore, less than 10% of the evidence is focused on the connected theme.

3.6 Overall, across each of our themes, the evidence is weighted towards Summer Olympic events. There is a smaller body of evidence on 'second tier' events, including previous Commonwealth Games.

3.7 Nonetheless, it's important to note that the lack of evidence does not mean that these outcomes are unachievable, it simply means that there have not been enough studies conducted in these areas to make an assessment.

London focus

3.8 This review does pay special attention to the evidence emerging from the London Olympics. This is partly because of the timing of our review, when a large amount of evidence is becoming available on those Games, but also because legacy planning for the London 2012 Olympics was similar in breadth and purposefulness to that being implemented at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

3.9 The jury is still out on the legacy benefits from London. There is a wide range of short-term evidence available, mainly from public bodies and organisations. On the whole, this suggests a positive message so far from the London 2012 Olympics across a wide range of legacy objectives. It will however, take years to fully understand the long-term, comprehensive effects of the Games. In particular, there is currently very little academic evidence available, possibly due to publication timescales.

3.10 This review will be updated over the period of our overall evaluation programme of the Commonwealth Games which spans from 2008-2019.


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