Mega Sport Events & their Legacies

Lessons Learned for Tourism Policy Makers

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2010

21 Pages, Grade: 1.3

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Table of Contents

Index of Figures & Tables

Mega Sport Events & their Legacies: Lessons Learned for Tourism Policy Makers

The Fundamentals of Mega Events

Sports Tourism and Its Events

Impacts & Issues of Mega Sport Events
Economical Impacts
Urban Development Impacts
Environmental Impacts

Legacy Policies in Practice
The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics
The Torino 2006 Winter Olympics
Considering the Stakeholders



Index of Figures & Tables

Table 1: Classification of hallmark events

Figure 1: Sport Tourism Model

Figure 2: Framework of Olympic-related Investments and Expenditures

Table 2: Steps in Austrade’s Olympic Leveraging Plan

Mega Sport Events & their Legacies:

Lessons Learned for Tourism Policy Makers

Just recently the Russian Federation and the Emirate of Qatar were selected to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively. However, why does a country without any strong background in football like Qatar actually engage into (and this case winning) the often exhaustive bidding process for becoming the host of a mega-event, which are also commonly referred to as hallmark events (Roche, 1994), like the FIFA World Cup? Ritchie (2000:155) highlights that “it is widely recognized that high-profile events [...] have the potential to help transform a city, a community, or an entire country into a major, legitimate tourism destination.” Essex and Chalkley (2004) argue that extensive changes in the global economy such as globalization or the change from industrial city to post-industrial city have facilitated the success of mega-events as being perceived as catalysts of substantial urban transformation. This corresponds to a growing focus of local governments on service industries and sectors such as tourism, which consequently leads to the desire to boost these industries by securing inward investment as well as by improving the respective city’s image within the international tourism market (Essex and Chalkley, 2004). Whitson and Macintosh (1996) highlight that mega-events have become a popular option in urban policy since they create the spectacle required to achieve the mentioned desire.

However, Ritchie (2000) stresses the fact that a strategic planning process beginning long before the actual event is crucial to promote lasting impacts. This is already highlighted by Hall (1989, as cited in Bramwell, 1997:167), who states:

Planning is an essential ingredient not only for the short term success of the hallmark event itself but also in realizing the longer term benefits that can accrue to a community in the holding of such events.

Therefore, one of the most decisive factors in the decision for or against the hosting of mega events is the so-called legacy effect, the long-term benefit as mentioned in the quotation by Hall (1989). And indeed, according to Faulkner et al. (2000), mega-events are e.g. able to enhance visitor levels beyond the event itself. Still, as already mentioned, to maximize such positive tourism effects of the event legacy, leveraging strategies have to be considered in the policy and planning procedures already in the pre-event phase (Ritchie, 2000; Chalip, 2004). While there should consequently be a lively interest into the role of event legacy and their potential for acting as a catalyst for tourism development, there is a lack of information on successful event leveraging strategies and tactics in academic research (Ritchie, 2000).

This paper analyzes and evaluates the academic research on leveraging policies concerning mega sports events [MSE] such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup specifically. Hence, firstly an overall framework is set by defining and categorizing mega events in general before interrelating them to the concept of sport events tourism. Secondly, the author discusses the impacts and related issues of MSEs before highlighting best practices of realized event legacies discussed within the academic literature. The research paper concludes with a summary of the previous discussion into a number of definite ‘lessons learned’. The latter corresponds with the overall aim of this research paper, which is therefore in line with the notion by Ritchie (2000) mentioned previously as it tries to extract the operational strategies successfully applied in the context of MSE legacy from the available academic literature to support tourism policy makers.

The Fundamentals of Mega Events

To set the overall framework for this paper, the term ‘mega events’ has to be clarified at first. A variety of definitions is used within the academic literature to classify hallmark or mega events. Still, two descriptions may be deemed as particularly appropriate because of their widespread usage depending on the investigated time period. During the early stages of relevant research, the definition of hallmark events was mainly coined by Ritchie (1984:2), who presented the following description in his research:

Major one-time or recurring events of limited duration, developed primarily to enhance the awareness, appeal and profitability of a tourism destination in the short and/or long term. Such events rely for their success on uniqueness, status, or timely significance to create interest and attract.

However, in more recent studies the term ‘hallmark’ has been succeeded by ‘mega’ since Horne (2007) highlights that the definition most widely applied within today’s academic literature is based on the work by Maurice Roche. Roche (2000:1) perceives mega events as “large-scale cultural (including commercial and sporting) events, which have a dramatic character, mass popular appeal and international significance.” Hence, to remain within this definition, a mega event is required to have considerable consequences for the host community in terms of infrastructure, possible debt, and attraction to ideally global media coverage in order to project the image of the host city/region/nation (Roche, 1994; 2000). In contrast to the earlier description by Ritchie (1984), Roche (2000) emphasizes the issue of event legacy within his work. Therefore, the author of this research paper primarily adheres to the latter definition.

Beyond the already mentioned Mega Sport Events [MSEs] several other events may be classified in accordance with the definitions by Ritchie (1984) and Roche (2000). In support of his description, Ritchie (1984) presents an early but still as valid perceived (Ritchie, 2000; Andranovich et al., 2001) overview of hallmark/mega events [Table 1] showing the variety of areas covered. While most of these events have a global orientation and require a competitive bidding process to become the designated host (Getz, 2008), different levels of event significance in terms of the definition by Roche (2000) and the categorization by Ritchie (1984) are apparent within the respective categories. These are considered with specific relevance to sport tourism and hence MSEs as part of the following section.

Table 1: Classification of hallmark events

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Ritchie (1984:2)

Sports Tourism and Its Events

A review of recent literature within the field of sports tourism by Weed (2006) stresses the fact that the investigated academic papers lack shared theories and universal methods leading to the production of ‘random bricks’ in research. This dilemma also expresses itself in the wide range of sport tourism definitions available (Deery et al., 2004; Weed, 2006). Within these various descriptions a number of authors have however considered sport events as a significant part of this special tourism form (Getz, 2008).

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Mega Sport Events & their Legacies
Lessons Learned for Tourism Policy Makers
International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef - Bonn
Tourism Policy & Planning
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
File size
1684 KB
olympic games, fifa world cup, legacy effect, sports tourism, mega sport events, hallmark events, policy making, tourism, case study, mega events, MSE
Quote paper
Shanin Schuessler (Author), 2010, Mega Sport Events & their Legacies, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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