Shared visions define the legacy of sporting events


According to the Association of International Summer Olympic Federations (ASOIF) Future of World Sport Report (2019), the international summer Olympic Games federations organize more than 8,000 events in an Olympic cycle. Even though international sports federations and event organizers often claim that their events generate a legacy for the host community, there is room for improvement and the current pandemic underscores the need to strengthen the role of sporting events as a catalyst for development. The world of sport is fragmented; the different departments within the federations often work in silos and the dominant business models do not include sport for development (S4D). Despite this, the current situation is an opportunity to build a sports event framework based on a shared vision and more connected to the local societal context of the host of the event.

In the spirit of promoting dialogue to explore new horizons, SCORE, a Sport Think Action Tank based in Lausanne, organizes SCORE Lab sessions. These are solution-focused meetings with industry experts, to help resolve issues and challenges faced by the sports industry and its connected stakeholders. In a recent SCORE Lab session, leaders and practitioners from International Sports Federations (IFs) and the S4D sector came together to discuss how to use the current calendar of sporting events to mobilize different forms of capital and develop lasting partnerships for S4D. The group addressed the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges of integrating S4D into the IF business model for events?
  2. Who are the different actors and how do they work together?
  3. How is it possible to establish mutual trust and understanding as well as shared goals among stakeholders? What are the challenges in building partnerships?
  4. What are the different forms of capital and how can they be mobilized effectively?

Participants put the event owners (governing bodies and leagues) and the host (cities, regions or countries) center stage. Both are responsible for (1) bringing together the key players involved and affected by the event, (2) identifying the different forms of capital allocated to each stakeholder, and (3) agreeing on a shared vision that is relevant to individual stakeholders and to the community as a whole. Cross-sector partnerships, which include multiple actors, various forms of capital and a shared vision, will enable effective and efficient solutions for the host community beyond the event. These relationships create impact for the host community and will define the legacy claimed by event planners. The recommendations discussed by the participants ranged from strategy to operations, including innovation.

Leverage existing programs to develop a shared vision of S4D
It is important to explore existing relationships and programs to leverage the network and its diverse expertise. Olympic IFs can optimize their efforts through a more strategic alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and with the organizations committed to it. This will reinforce a common narrative focused on the role of sport in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a narrative that can provide a framework for Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), which are sometimes signed by organizations but often remain inactive. and fall short of optimizing efforts to achieve goals.

Review the bidding process to mainstream the SDGs
S4D integration into the event framework starts at the base: the tendering process. This is the source for designing a sustainable event framework. The SDGs should be incorporated into the event’s bidding requirements. The nomination model should be inclusive – that is, include key stakeholders, standards and guiding principles – and aim to enable multi-stakeholder partnerships in the event ecosystem.

Define the monetary value of development results and aim for a positive impact

Development does not need to be a cost center, and sports organizations can explore innovative financing mechanisms to diversify their sources of income while developing sustainable local initiatives. Good data and different measurement systems and indicators will be crucial in assigning a monetary value to development results and in understanding the impacts generated by sporting events.

Several questions remain unanswered in the exploration of economic models in the context of the Olympic Movement:

  1. Why is S4D not included in sport’s predominant event business model?
  2. How can the model based on current events be revisited / adjusted / extended?
  3. How to effectively change mentalities and economic models?
  4. Who is responsible for enabling this?
  5. What resources are needed?
  6. How do you work with leadership and political agendas?
  7. How do you define the monetary value of sport development results in the context of impact financing?


SCORE – Sport Think Action Tank. Independent sports thinkers who aim to support and cooperate with the sports community to MARK impactful and relevant solutions.

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