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Every loser wins? Leveraging an Olympic bid

Bason, Tom (2019) Every loser wins? Leveraging an Olympic bid. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This research investigates the ways in which cities leverage Olympic bids for positive outcomes. Recent Olympic bid cycles have seen a decline in interest in hosting the Games and so the IOC is seeking to encourage bidders to consider how a bid can benefit a city. This is not necessarily a new concept, with case studies including Lyon 1920 (Benneworth and Dauncey, 2010), Manchester 2000 (Cook and Ward, 2011), Berlin 2004 (Alberts, 2009), and Toronto 2008 (Oliver, 2011), yet research into this area is still emerging. This present research contributes to the existing literature, through considering the leveraging strategies employed as part of the bid, rather than post bid legacies. To answer the research question of how cities can leverage Olympic bids, two stages of data analysis were conducted. A content analysis was conducted of 16 bid cities’ answers to the question ‘what will be the benefits of bidding for the Olympic Games for your city/region, irrespective of the outcome of the bid?’ (IOC, 2009: 66). Second, qualitative case studies were developed using Cape Town and Toronto’s bids for the 2004 and 2008 Games respectively; 31 interviews were conducted with various stakeholders across both bids. The data collection identified three key leveraging objectives: urban development, sports development and raising the city’s global profile. The key finding is that the Olympic bid provided cities with the opportunity to leverage national government funding. The leveraging strategies for sports development and the raising of the profile were less successful as these strategies were implemented solely by the city and did not appear to have the same level of planning as the urban development goals. This research has contributed to the burgeoning literature surrounding Olympic bidding, but perhaps the practical implications are more significant. This research provides bidders with information regarding how an Olympic bid can benefit a city, irrespective of the bid’s success. In particular, cities should view a bid as an opportunity to catalyse or contribute to already existing plans. Without this level of strategic planning forethought, it is unlikely that the leveraging plans will be successful.

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