Updated Review of the Evidence of Legacy of Major Sporting Events: July 2015

This is an updated review of 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).

9. Conclusions

9.1 This review has discussed existing evidence of legacy of large multi-sport events. It is clear from this review that in many areas, the evidence-base is limited and of varying quality.

9.2 The inclusion of more recent evidence has not changed the messages from the earlier review and reinforces the understanding that robust evidence of legacies from major multi-sports events continues to be limited in both quantity and quality.

9.3 Some areas have received more attention than others, with much of the focus on economic impact, particularly business, employment, tourism, and regeneration. On the other hand, there is a significant lack of evidence in other areas, in particular environmental responsibility and cultural engagement and learning. A consistent finding is the need for further long-term research, with longer post event data collection periods.

9.4 In terms of the economic impact, studies suggest that hosting multi-sport events often have positive short-term impacts, but there is a paucity of evidence of long-term effects. The limited evidence that is available on long term effects varies considerably between different events. It ultimately remains very difficult to separate out the effects of hosting the Games from what is happening in the wider context.

9.5 It seems possible to create a positive regeneration legacy as part of hosting major sporting events. This will not happen automatically however. Regeneration plans need to be anchored into long-term existing objectives and must carefully consider the needs of the local community.

9.6 The area of physical activity and sport has received a lot of attention over recent years. However, the empirical evidence base assessing participation levels is small, as a number of review papers have noted. The evidence that exists is variable in quality and shows mixed results. It is therefore too early to say whether hosting multi-sport events can increase participation levels.

9.7 There is a particular lack of evidence on other legacy areas such as cultural engagement and education. Where evidence exists it tends to be small scale. Again, there is a need for long-term, systematic research in these legacy areas.

9.8 However, we can draw some broad conclusions and lessons from the evidence.

  • While a positive legacy can be created from major sporting events, this will not happen automatically.
  • Across all themes, the evidence highlights the importance of incorporating and embedding Games-related plans into existing, long-term policy objectives.
  • The importance of 'grass-roots', community engagement in planning and delivering a major sporting event comes through across the regeneration, public health and cultural literature.
  • Further, generating public support and enthusiasm for major sporting events may help achieve legacy aims.


Email: Justine Geyer

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