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This content is taken from the The International Platform on Sport and Development, Commonwealth Secretariat & Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)'s online course, Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds It’s not just a Games, for a Games sake, this is a game changer. And we have to keep remembering that sport is just the beginning of it, but you’re supporting part of the stats long before the Games actually get into your country. So a lot of hard work, but oh boy is it worth it? The biggest legacy from the Gold Coast was the indigenous reconciliation. That was unbelievable. And I don’t think we thought it would work the way it did, but because we had buy in right from the very beginning with the Yugambeh community wanted to be part of this and showcase their country. And it took a while to get everybody to work together.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds But once we got to the opening ceremony, and that was a terrific ceremony that they delivered. Using Yugambeh people right from the very beginning and there’s echoes on today because now the mascot a koala. He’s there. And they’re using him now to go round as an educational tool for the young people in Australia, to teach them about the indigenous history. This framework is the most detailed piece of work that we’ve ever had in our history, we always know that something you can do, but unless you can prove it, people just let it go. So we actually asked Price Waterhouse Coopers, to do a detailed piece of work for us.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds And one of the key messages that’s come out from this is that the Commonwealth games consistently delivers a positive return to the public for the money spent, and it can reposition itself and transform a city when the correct approach is taken. Not just that you go in and try something you have to do the correct approach to get this right. And recent editions of our games, we’ve consistently provided an economic boost of 1 billion pounds from previous host cities. And that’s including an array of positive social and environmental benefits,which is so important to the country. So it’s not a case of just going in doing 11 days of sport and out, you’re actually working with them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds And you can actually prove this, and this Games value framework document is, it really is a very very good piece of work. And we actually have now passed it around various governments to let them see what the Games can deliver. The games have been a catalyst for positive change, and it’s mostly GDP. Also the employments during and after the games. It’s starts just before, but during and after the Games it comes up. 1 billion pounds for from previous host citie . 23,000 full time equivalent years of employment and a 3.2 return on public investment. But more importantly, it also strengthens trade, investment and tourism links.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 seconds 25% increase in tourism, and we had a 1.5 billion global TV audience, that is pretty good going for the Games, and the trade deals and investmen, going through the games, and afterwards, it was over 400 million pounds More importantly, it supports the physical and social regeneration of the city. And if I give you two from Manchester, there’s a 23.5% decline in unemployment from the games in 2002 there. 700 affordable homes and 120 bed care homes for Glasgow 2014. And that’s, we’ve really never done a village before where we’ve actually had to have social housing care homes for the elderly. And we accelerated by 474 million pounds of investment in Glasgow 2014.

Skip to 4 minutes and 20 seconds Most importantly for me, is a social cohesion and it encourages individuals to

Skip to 4 minutes and 35 seconds adopt positive behaviours.

Sustainability and legacy myths

Although our focus on this course has been on broader applications of sport and development outcomes, large sporting events provide a useful lens for considering sustainability and legacy. As part of your planning process, you should think about what happens after implementation.

Most major sporting events focus on the delivery of a ‘legacy’. They must now have a conscious, credible and defined policy for legacy that meets public expectations. Invariably, major sporting events will claim to have boosted sports participation, reduced the event’s carbon footprint, attracted more tourists, boosted a city or country’s profile and reduced the cost of staging future events. All of these claims require testing, comparing and evaluating. Funders and participants expect such claims to be evidenced.

The Olympics and other major sporting events raise important questions around ‘legacy’ potential. The ability to put on such events is uneven across the globe. The promise of urban or rural regeneration is realised by some events, but the extent that sporting success or failure impacts the wellbeing of host nations needs to be considered. Critics argue that communities are often displaced and ordinary people excluded from involvement in the planning and ownership of legacies, e.g. the Rio 2016 Olympics or FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Legacies can be difficult to capture and evidence.

Legacy Examples

International Inspiration was the sport and development legacy project of the London 2012 Olympics.

Evaluation reports of the South Africa 2010 World Cup and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games highlight the following key points:

  • Robust evidence of impact is limited, varies greatly and tends to focus on the short term
  • Evidence to support the idea of economic growth and employment is mixed and there is no clear evidence of an automatic trickle-down effect from hosting a major sports event and positive legacy outcomes
  • There is a need for long-term planning and perspective
  • To have a legacy, it is important to have good organisational capability and community engagement

It is important to be realistic about the impact you identify that your sport and development initiative should generate. Participants, funders and your board will expect the impact to be achievable through the intervention identified. Examples of achieved impact used in other sport interventions include:

  • Raising awareness amongst indigenous people about human rights
  • Improving knowledge and understanding amongst the parasports communities about advancing access to sports facilities
  • Changing attitudes and perceptions of white males about racism in and through sport
  • Informing the sports policy on development about the need to generate environmental solutions

Addressing broader social issues through sport

Few of us would disagree that sport has a role to play in addressing broader societal concerns. UNESCO’s 2017 report Maximising the Power of Sport recognises the powerful balance that sport can contribute to non-sport outcomes.

The Commonwealth Secretariat in 2018 produced a Self-Evaluation Checklist for sport-related policies to address the opportunities and challenges in utilising sport and development.


In your opinion, what are the current legacy challenges for a sport mega-event in your region? How could new approaches to sport and development address these issues?

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This video is from the free online course:

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

The International Platform on Sport and Development