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Embracing the games? Leverage and legacy of London 2012 Olympics at the sub-regional level by means of strategic partnerships

Bell, Barbara and Gallimore, Kevin (2015) Embracing the games? Leverage and legacy of London 2012 Olympics at the sub-regional level by means of strategic partnerships. Leisure Studies. ISSN 0261-4367

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Abstract

The ability to leverage benefits and establish a legacy from hosting mega-events continues to be of significant interest from both academic and policy perspectives. However, relatively few studies have focused on leverage and legacy by cities and regions that are not hosting mega-events. This research adds to the evidence base by examining the effectiveness of a sub-regional multi-agency strategic planning process in leveraging benefits from a mega-event, the London 2012 Olympics. A case study methodology drew on qualitative data from a number of sources regarding the operation of the multi-agency strategic planning steering group. The multi-agency partnership experienced significant difficulties arising from the external environment, principally the austere economic environment and the extensive structural changes for the public sector in the period prior to the event. Many partners were limited in their ability to deliver the aspirations or leverage the benefits set out in the strategic plan. However, the steering group approach to strategic planning was effective in maintaining the collaborative and consultative approach needed to leverage event benefits across the different aspects of sport and leisure policy. Unfortunately, political, personnel and organizational change and instability since the games in 2012 meant that much of the momentum for post-Olympic legacy was lost. Professionals and agencies in sport, business, visitor economy, education and health will potentially return to pre-Olympic silos and professional boundaries that the strategic framework helped to cross, without significant post event commitment and the unique appeal of the Olympic Games.

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