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Major sporting event impact and legacy


Major sporting events can have a variety of positive impacts for individuals, communities and the economy at national, state, and local levels.

Events, and successful athletes and teams, can help to bring communities together, encourage people to participate as players and volunteers, and boost economic activity. While direct effects may be short term, they can help to provide a catalyst for ongoing development and engagement.

Engaging the community

Successful events and athletic performances can bring together a wide range of societal groups even those who are not generally interested in sports.

Economic value

Events can stimulate infrastructure spending, employment, tourism, international exposure, and other potential economic and social benefits.

Sport Participation

Event organisers should ensure that sports organisations have the resources and organisational capacity to capitalise on the public interest that is generated

Paralympic Games

As one of the world's largest multi-sport events, investment in the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes can positively impact on society in many ways, including:

  • social inclusion and diversity
  • education
  • employment
  • health and wellbeing
  • inspiration and role models
  • international development (aid and trade)
  • community development
  • medical/equipment research and development.

In 2000, Sydney hosted the Summer Paralympic Games and this significantly raised the profile of the Paralympic movement in Australia and the world. It was the first Games with International TV coverage 50, and through a dedicated national education program, increased awareness of Paralympic sports and people with disability in schools, including over 340,000 school children attending the Games in person. 49

There are several legacy studies that attempt to document the outcomes of hosting the Paralympic Games directly for persons with disability as well as on the broader community, with some showing positive societal and participatory outcomes. 43, 47, 48

However, others question the continuing 'ableist' discourse and whether or not it actually leads to positive perceptions and participation outcomes for people with disability, especially if the underlying individual and societal barriers and challenges they face are not addressed through long term planning and investment outside of the event period. 22, 44, 45, 46,

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  44. 'A mockery of equality': An exploratory investigation into disabled activists' views of the Paralympic Games. Stuart Braye, Kevin Dixon, Tom Gibbons, Disability and Society, Volume 28(7), pp.984-996, (October 2013).
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  46. “The Legacy Element . . . It Just Felt More Woolly”: Exploring the Reasons for the Decline in People With Disabilities’ Sport Participation in England 5 Years After the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Christopher Brown, Athanasios (Sakis) Pappous, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Volume 42(5), pp.343-368, (October 2018).
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Last updated: 20 January 2023
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