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Every loser wins: leveraging ‘unsuccessful’ Olympic bids for positive benefits

Bason, T and Grix, J (2020) Every loser wins: leveraging ‘unsuccessful’ Olympic bids for positive benefits. European Sport Management Quarterly. ISSN 1618-4742

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Abstract

© 2020 European Association for Sport Management. Research Question: In what ways can cities leverage an unsuccessful Olympic Games bid to bring them positive benefits? Research Methods: A multiple case study approach using the bids of Cape Town and Toronto for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, respectively. Interviews were conducted with 31 stakeholders across both bids; including 19 members of the respective bid teams and a further 12 interviews with external stakeholders. This data is supplemented by documentary analysis of candidate files, promotional materials and city/council documents. Results and Findings: Despite the differing political and social contexts of the two cities studied, both utilized similar leveraging strategies. The Olympic bid process focuses those in a city, bringing together coalitions, forcing a city to take stock of its current situation and brings national interest. The bid teams utilized the threat of not being successful to lever national government funding and created leveraging bodies to deliver the strategies. Implications: The implications of this study are twofold. First, it provides cities with insight into how even an unsuccessful Olympic bid can provide benefits. Crucially, only legitimate bidders contributing to already existing plans can access government funding. Second, this research contributes to the bidding literature, providing new empirical material derived using a diverse case study approach, and to the leveraging literature through adapting, extending and updating Chalip’s (2004) conceptual model of event leverage.

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