You are here

Shared visions define sport events’ legacies

Shared visions define sport events’ legacies

In a recent SCORE Lab session, leaders and practitioners from international sport federations and the S4D sector gathered to discuss how to use the current sport events calendar to mobilise different forms of capital and develop lasting partnerships.

According to the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Future of Global Sports report (2019), Summer Olympic international federations organise over 8,000 events in one Olympic cycle. Even though international sports federations and event hosts often claim their events generate legacies for the host community, there is room for improvement, and the current pandemic highlights the need to strengthen the role of sports events as a catalyst for development. The sports world is fragmented; different departments within federations often work in silos and prevailing 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 event host.

In the spirit of fostering dialogues to explore new horizons, SCORE, a Sport Think Action Tank based in Lausanne organises SCORE Lab sessions. These are solutions-oriented meetings with industry experts, to help address problems and challenges faced by the sports industry and its connected stakeholders. In a recent SCORE Lab session, leaders and practitioners from international sport federations (IFs) and from the S4D sector gathered to discuss how to use the current sport events calendar to mobilise different forms of capital and develop lasting partnerships for S4D. The group addressed the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges to incorporating S4D in the IFs’ event-based business model?
  2. Who are the various actors and how are they collaborating?
  3. How is it possible to build mutual trust and understanding as well as shared goals among stakeholders? What are the challenges to building partnerships?
  4. What are different forms of capital and how to effectively mobilise them?

Participants placed the event owners (governing bodies and leagues) and the host (cities, regions or countries) at centre stage. Both are responsible for (1) assembling the key actors involved in and affected by the event, (2) identifying the different forms of capital attributed to each stakeholder, and (3) agreeing on a shared vision that is relevant to the individual stakeholders and for the community at large. Cross-sector partnerships, which comprise multiple actors, various forms of capital and a shared vision, will enable efficient and effective solutions for the host community beyond the event. These relationships create an impact for the host community and will define the legacy claimed by event organisers. The recommendations discussed by participants ranged from strategy to operations, including innovation.

Leverage existing programmes to develop a shared vision for S4D
It is important to explore existing relationships and programmes to leverage the network and its diverse expertise. Olympic IFs can optimise their  efforts through more strategic alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and with organisations committed to it. This will reinforce a common narrative focused on the role of sports to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a narrative that can provide a framework for memoranda of understanding (MoUs), which sometimes are signed by organisations but often remain inactive and fall short of optimising efforts to achieve the goals.

Review bidding process to embed SDGs
S4D integration in the event framework starts from the base: the bidding process. This is the source for designing a sustainable event framework. SDGs should be embedded in the event’s bidding requirements. The bid model should be inclusive - i.e. include key stakeholders, standards and guiding principles -  and aim to enable multi-stakeholder partnerships in the event ecosystem.

Define the monetary value of development outcomes and aim for positive impact

Development does not need to be a cost center, and sport organisations can explore innovative financing mechanisms to diversify their source of revenues whilst developing sustainable grassroots initiatives. Good data and different measurement systems and indicators will be instrumental in attributing monetary value to development outcomes and in understanding  the impacts generated by sport events.

Several questions remain unanswered in the journey of exploring business models in the context of the Olympic Movement:

  1. Why is S4D not included in the predominant event-based business model of sports?
  2. How can the current events-based model be revisited/adjusted/expanded?
  3. How do you effectively shift mindsets and business models?
  4. Who is responsible for enabling this?
  5. What are the necessary resources?
  6. How do you work with the leadership and politically driven agendas?
  7. How do you define the monetary value of sport’s development outcomes in the context of impact financing?


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


Article type





Monday, March 1, 2021 - 12:15