The landscape of Sport
Sport has become a multi-billion-dollar industry with a massive impact on the global economy. Yet few governing bodies and hosts really understand the true impact of their events.
There is very limited data to support this understanding and there is no standard methodology to capture, to evidence and to measure and compare these impacts.
Without this understanding and without this evidence, communication that is clear, comprehensive and compelling is impossible.
Communication such as it is becomes confused and limited, representing an imbalanced equation of cost versus, only, economic impact. A real appreciation of the true, full value is lost somewhere along the way.
So how do we understand what the true impact is of a major sporting event and what is the overall impact of sport on society?
We need a meaningful measure of the impact of sport and a methodology that creates a global standard.
We need the Global Sports Impact Project
What is the true impact of a major sporting event?
- The Japanese government recently claimed that the Olympic Games in 2020 will have a US$ 37.9 billion economic impact on the Japanese economy; three times that of the London 2012 Olympics.
- The Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014 were reported to have cost more than US$ 50 billion to host, more than three times the cost of the London 2012 Olympics.
The questions are does anyone really understand and does anyone really believe these numbers?
It is possible that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will generate sizeable impacts that might well have an aggregate equivalent value well in excess of US$ 40 billion. But over what period of time, and how much of this will be purely economic, are the real questions. Social, environmental and cultural impacts will each add to the overall impact of the Games but these are hard to quantify and to explain in purely economic terms. But it is important that they are not ignored.
The reality is that the US$ 50 billion that it apparently cost Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics does not all relate to the Games but rather to the transformation of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi and the creation of a brand new winter sports resort. The Games were used as a catalyst for this change, transforming Sochi from an ageing, regional resort to a well-known international resort destination and one of the top 10 sporting cities in 2014 according to Sportcal’s Global Sports Cities Index 2014.
The US$ 50 billion has largely been spent on building infrastructure and facilities to turn Sochi into a global destination for sports tourism, one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism in the world.
More and more, governments are waking up to the fact that sports tourism is a rapidly growing industry sector that is generating billions of dollars in overseas spend.
The GSI Project has estimated that the 500 major world championships and multi-sports games studied in the first phase of the GSI project have collectively attracted over 90 million spectators, including more than 13 million overseas spectators, spending an estimated US$ 10 billion in the host economies.
And for those same 500 major world championships almost 1 million volunteers came forward to support the events. The benefits of volunteering are well understood and well-articulated, but how do we measure and express this value as one of the impacts of major sports events?
2015 – Another Big Year for Sport – Will it be bigger than 2014?
Even without an Olympic Games or a FIFA World Cup 2015 is promising to be another big year for sport. Events like the Rugby World Cup in England; the Universiade in Gwangju, Korea; the Pan-American Games in Toronto, Canada; the Special Olympics in Los Angeles, USA and the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan are set to attract millions of spectators, thousands of participants and hundreds of hours of media coverage.
These will be supported by numerous world and continental championships taking place throughout the year, including: the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China; the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, USA; the World Outdoor Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Floorball Women’s World Championships in Tampere, Finland; the FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany; and the European Beach Handball Championships in Lloret de Mar, Spain.
There are also the hundreds of annual world, continental and national events that happen every year like the UEFA Champions League, the major cycling tours, including the Tour De France, and the Grand Slams in tennis, like the Australian Open, to mention just a few.
Could 2015 be a bigger year for sport than 2014? The GSI Project will analyse a wider range of events in 2015 and aim to establish just how big the impact of sport is on a global basis. A comparison will then be made to 2014 to see what the differences are between a World Cup/Winter Olympic year and 2015.
The GSI Project in 2015
The GSI Project aims to expand its research in 2015, beyond the 500-plus events studied to date, to include the 30,000-plus events that are covered by Sportcal’s annual sports calendar each year, which includes world, continental and national, leagues, series, cups and championships.
The second phase of the GSI Project will see the scope of the project widened and deepened to include more indicators, more analysis, more data and more events.
A wide variety of organisations and individuals have expressed their interest in participating in the GSI Project in 2015 and a number of major sporting events have expressed an interest in participating as pilot projects.
In 2015 the GSI Project will engage everyone in discussion and debate about what is the true value of sport.
Who’s behind the GSI Project?
Right from the start we recognised that the Project required a strong team in order to deliver its aims; a team that would be united by all members’ belief in and commitment to the vision and aims of GSI.
So we have assembled an exceptional team of experienced, knowledgeable and skilful personnel. And a team that acts as a partnership with all partners understanding that the methodology must reflect a consultative approach, building consensus with stakeholders and must be readily executable yet objective, expert, robust and independent.
Sportcal is a Founding Partner of the GSI Project and was supported in the first phase by UK Sport, Singapore Sports Council and various academic and supporting partners.
In the second phase The Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia will be leading the academic development of the project. The research team from ISEAL, led by Professor Hans Westerbeek, will develop a comprehensive and validated research methodology, using a Delphi approach to achieve consensus among industry experts as to what are the key drivers of impact of major sports events, and how these drivers can best be measured. This expert opinion will then be further tested by conducting a global survey among major event owners, hosts and other stakeholders.
Sagacity, which is also one of the Founding Partners, will continue to provide guidance and support in the development of the project. Sagacity sees that, from a host's perspective, the hosting of an event is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Its CEO, Jon Coxeter-Smith, firmly believes that the GSI Project is bringing invaluable and objective clarity to promote a better understanding and knowledge of the impacts of major sports events
The global impact of sport in 2015 is once again going to be enormous and the GSI project by the end of 2015 will be able to give an assessment of just how big that impact is across a range of sports and a range of events.
- What if by the end of 2015 we really knew more about the impact of these events?
- What if we understood more about their social impacts or their cultural impacts or indeed about their impact on sports participation or inspiration or pride?
- Would this mean that the full impact of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic could be more than the estimated US$ 40 billion of economic impact; or that the Sochi Olympics was worth more than the US$ 50 billion, when seen as an investment in global branding and media exposure as well as in creating an infrastructure for long-term economic growth?
- If the full range of impacts were better understood and better measured and valued, would that mean a stronger case for investment; that sport was ‘worth it’? And would that encourage more governments and cities to host more major sporting events and invest in sport?
Join the Global Sports Impact Project today to add to the debate, to share the knowledge, and to be a part of the unique, ground-breaking solution.
Publish Date: September 2016
Publish Date: September 2015
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