Major sport events drive potential £4 billion ‘soft power’ boost to UK

Major sport events in the UK could deliver up to £4 billion of soft power, trade and investment benefits in the next decade, according to a new report commissioned by the City of London Corporation and UK Sport.

The report acknowledges that the benefits of hosting major sporting events are ‘routinely under-reported’ while important learning is often lost due to the transient nature of events and the organisations set up to run them.

It calls for improved monitoring of the impact of events and a more joined-up approach between the public and private sectors, getting business involved at the earliest opportunity and doing more to ‘activate’ host cities and regions through non-sporting activities.

The report, produced by professional services firm EY, is published following a summer in which Wembley Stadium hosted six Euro 2020 games and ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup coming to England next year.

City of London Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness said:

“As we enter a new phase in the UK’s trading relationship with the rest of the world, this report reminds us of our strengths as a sporting nation and how this can be used to build our existing global partnerships and develop links with new trading partners.

“There is a clear and compelling case for adopting a more co-ordinated approach and ensuring major sporting events are linked to trade and wider international goals.

“As a world-leading business centre, we will work with partners and use our convening capabilities, to ensure the report’s recommendations are taken forward.”

The report found few organisers of major sport events had sought to quantify their soft power, trade and investment impacts, with the notable exception of the London 2012 Olympics and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It suggests a ‘clear rationale’ should be set for events – linking in with existing event and international relations strategies – and their impact measured, with more clearly defined responsibilities set for public and private sector bodies.

Future events in the scope of the report include the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next summer, Rugby League World Cup in England next autumn and a potential joint bid by the UK and Ireland to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

Simon Morton, Director of Sporting System and Events at UK Sport, said:

“The findings of this report clearly demonstrate the huge value that major sporting events in the UK contribute to the economy. It has been a pleasure to partner with the City of London Corporation and EY on this project and we hope the findings resonate far and wide.

“We can further build on the undeniable value of major sporting events in the UK by embarking on partnerships not just with the City of London but the business and private sectors as well. Together this will help us further raise the global profile of the nation and drive significant social and economic benefits for those communities that act as host cities or towns.

“With the support of The National Lottery and Government, the UK has built a global reputation as a first-class destination for the biggest sporting occasions. As part of our new ten-year strategic plan, we want to host a programme of inspirational major sporting events that will excite new audiences.”

Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston said:

“Major sporting events play a pivotal role in inspiring the nation to get active, but today's report also shows the invaluable soft power benefits that promote the UK internationally. 

“I’d like to thank UK Sport and the sector for its extraordinary work to date in helping establish the country as a pre-eminent destination to host major sporting events. With the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the World Gymnastics Championships, the UEFA Women's European Championships and the Rugby League World Cup to come in 2022 we have a great opportunity to enhance that reputation further.”

The report can be viewed online at https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/working-with-community/the-impact-of-major-sports-events

Picture captions

- Six Euro 2020 games were held at Wembley Stadium in the summer

- London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games

- City of London Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

About UK Sport

UK Sport is the UK’s trusted high-performance experts, powering our greatest athletes, teams, sports and events to achieve positive success. Established in 1997, UK Sport has transformed the high-performance sporting system in the UK – through strategic leadership and investment of National Lottery and Government funds – winning more Olympic and Paralympic medals than ever before and is recognised as one of the top nations in the world for event hosting capabilities. UK Sport’s purpose is to lead high-performance sport to enable extraordinary moments that enrich lives and aims to work collaboratively with partners to deliver the greatest decade of extraordinary moments – reaching, inspiring and uniting the nation. More @ www.uksport.gov.uk

Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services

City of London Corporation

07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk