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Clearinghouse for Sport

Major Sporting Event Legacies

Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Last updated: 04 March 2022
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Governments around the world invest in major sporting events principally to support social, economic and cultural outcomes that benefit communities, both locally and nationally.

Australia has been highly successful in attracting and hosting many of the world’s highest profile sporting events, and with the awarding of the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games there is a unique opportunity to develop evidence-based legacy outcomes. These could include: increasing engagement in sport and physical activity; improving transport infrastructure; promoting local and national tourism and economic growth; and, driving Queensland's sustainability agenda.

To have the greatest chance of success, legacy planning must be incorporated into every stage of the bid lifecycle, engage a wide variety of stakeholders, and be integrated into the event delivery.


The bidding lifecycle

The life cycle of a major international sporting event can span up to 7-10 years and incorporates several key phases.

Legacy planning

For hosts of sporting events one of the key factors discussed is the legacy, or ongoing benefits and effect for the community, both locally and nationally.

Measuring the impact of events

A lack of consistent methodology or reported outcomes makes it difficult to compare events or to assess potential legacy outcomes for upcoming bids.

Key areas of focus

Community engagement and social impact

While often difficult to quantify, major sporting events play a unique role in defining and bringing together national, state and local communities.

Sport participation

A key issue in event participation legacies is ensuring sports organisations have the resources and capacity to capitalise on the interest that is generated.

International reputation

Australia's ability to host successful major events signals competence and provides the opportunity to enhance and project positive perceptions of the country.

Economic impact

Australia has been successful in attracting many high profile sporting events. These events stimulate tourism inflows, international exposure, and other economic and social benefits.


In 2018/19 tourism contributed $60.8 billion to national GDP. Sports tourism may account for a small portion of the total but even a small share represents a substantial value to the economy.

Facilities and infrastructure

Facility and infrastructure planning that adopts a long-term, multi-dimensional approach can produce positive long-term returns on investment.

Sustainability and environmental impact

Since the 1990s major events have had an increasing focus on managing their short and long-term environmental and sustainability impacts.

Human rights impact

Events can be a vehicle for protecting and promoting human rights across the different stages of bidding, planning, delivery and legacy implementation.


As part of the bidding process major events owners require countries/cities seeking the event(s) to be able to manage large scale security operations and potential terrorist threats.

Media, broadcasting & communication

No matter how many spectators attend a major event in person, a significantly bigger audience can be engaged through an effective broadcast and media campaign.

Policies and practices

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