Analysing and understanding the true impact of hosting events
The second edition of the Global Sports Impact (GSI) Report explores the impact of sport through 2015-16 and examines the key issues and challenges which sport faces. Analysis covers 83 world championships and multisport games hosted across 119 cities and 38 nations.


Executive Summary

Sport has a massive global impact and 2015 was no exception to that. Over 80 world championships and multisport games took place in 2015, generating millions of spectators and billions of hours of media coverage. Supported by the major annual events, they have a huge impact on the world’s economy.

But what do we really understand about this impact and how do we accurately explain it to governments, ministries and the general public? There are no consistent standards and methodologies to clearly define the annual impact of sport.

This second edition of the Global Sports Impact (GSI) Report explores the impact of sport in 2015 and 2016 and examines some of the key issues and challenges facing sport in the future.

2015 was another huge year for sport with the Rugby World Cup hosted in England and Wales; the Cricket World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand; the Women’s Fifa World Cup in Canada, and world championships in athletics, swimming and many other Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Multisport games included the Universiade in Gwangju, Korea, the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada and the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Los Angeles, USA.

The GSI Report 2016 studies these major events covering 83 world championships and multisport games hosted in 118 cities and 38 countries

These events alone generated over 13 million spectators and created a huge economic impact for their host cities. But how much impact did these events really have? According to some reports the Rugby World Cup generated over $3 billion (£2.4 billion) of economic impact. But how do we compare the impact generated by the Rugby World Cup to the impact generated by the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo?

According to analysis by Sportcal these 83 events alone generated a potential net impact of $400 million before a single ticket was sold and an overseas tourism impact well in excess of $2 billion. Our Sports Tourism section explores how sport is driving one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism and how cities are using sport to drive economic development and tourism.

But economic impact is not the only effect that the GSI Report 2016 looks at. Sport delivers a range of impacts: media; sporting; social and legacy.

The GSI Project aims to develop ways of expressing these impacts and thus enabling a better understanding of the true impact of sport.


1. Global Sports Impact Project

The Global Sports Impact Project in 2015 focused on the development of the GSI Event Studies Programme.

Sportcal conducted three GSI Event Studies in 2015:

  • World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Mexico City, Mexico
  • FAI World Air Games in Dubai, UAE

These studies identified the broader impacts major world events have beyond the purely economic, and described how frequently these impacts are underestimated and incorrectly explained.

2. Event Hosting and Bidding

Event hosting in 2015 in some ways mirrored event hosting in 2014, with Europe being the dominant host continent. However, the proportion of events it hosted was significantly reduced, while North America and Oceania significantly increased their proportions.

Thirty eight nations hosted the 83 events studied in 2015 in 118 cities.

The GSI Report analyses which were the top host cities and nations in 2015.

3. Sports Governance

One impact that wasn’t explored in much detail in the first edition of the GSI Report was the area of governance. But it is sport’s off-field activities that grabbed the world’s attention in 2015 and 2016.

Corruption, doping, match-fixing and major governance issues dominated the headlines.

Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, stepped down amid a storm of corruption claims against his executive committee members and himself. The IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, became consumed in a major doping scandal involving its former president, Lamine Diack, and ‘state-supported’ doping by Russia’s top athletes. ARAF, the Russian athletics federation, was suspended and Russian athletes had to apply for ‘exceptional eligibility’ to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The GSI Report analyses some of these developments, and a group of leading academics and experts in the area of sports governance comments on what sport needs to do to regain its global credibility, while remaining independent and transparent.

4. Economic Impact

The 83 events studied in 2015 for the GSI Report attracted over 13 million spectators and created a huge economic impact for their host cities. But how much impact did these events really have?

In this section of the report we examine five of the major events of 2015 to see what was reported and how these impacts were calculated, and we apply the GSI methodology to compare them.

The events analysed are:

  • Rugby World Cup
  • ICC Cricket World Cup
  • Fifa Women’s World Cup
  • UCI Road World Cycling Championships
  • World Archery Championships

5. Sports Tourism

According to analysis by Sportcal the 83 events studied generated a potential net impact of $400 million before a single ticket was sold, plus an overseas tourism impact of well in excess of $2 billion.

The Sports Tourism section explores how sport is driving one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism and how cities are using sport to drive economic development and tourism.

6. Media Impact

Billions of people watch billions of hours of sport every year and yet sport still has a problem in expressing its media impact.

Cumulative audience has been a popular measure to express media coverage over the last decade or so but very few people really believe these figures, as apparently ridiculous claims about the number of people who have watched a sporting event are made. In fact, the cumulative figure has become so unreliable that the GSI Project has decided not to use it as a means of showing the media impact of sport. In this year’s report we explore, through our industry experts, some of the alternative ways in which we can express media impact.

7. Social Media Impact

The GSI Report examines the fan bases that have been developed on social media by federations, leagues and events to see which are generating the largest followings.

But the size of the fan base is of limited value. Engagement and tone are of far more value than pure volume. Our industry experts examine various ways in which social media can be measured and offer some far more compelling alternatives for measuring social media value.

8. Sponsorship Impact

The corruption and doping issues that broke around sport similarly affected sponsors. Some sponsors cancelled their association with certain sports while others cut back on their activation programmes around major events. This was very noticeable around the Women’s Fifa World Cup in Canada where very few sponsors activated around the event, either because of the political turmoil that had engulfed Fifa or because they simply didn’t see the fit between women’s football and their brands.

The Sponsorship Impact section explores how sponsors activated around some of the major events in 2015 and which were the most prominent.

9. Sporting Impact

Over 70,000 athletes participated in the 83 major events studied by the GSI Report in 2015. 59.4% were male and 40.6% were female. The Sporting Impact section explores where these athletes were from, what percentage of member nations were represented in these events, which events were the most gender-equal and what sport needs to do to promote gender equality better. Our industry experts look at the growth of women’s sport, the progress it made in 2015 and what steps federations took to try and engage in the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform programme and make their sports more gender-equal.

10. Social Impact

The social impact of sport is of increasing concern and importance to host cities and governments. In a recent survey of major international sports destinations Sportcal identified that it is also increasingly important to hosts.

But very few sports governing bodies measure the social impact of their events. There is little or no agreement on what the standard measure of social impact should be and while educational programmes support many events or some forms of social engagement very few of these are recorded and measured.

Volunteering is probably the only measure that is reasonably well recorded by event owners, and even then the true figure is often not accurately recorded.

Over 114,000 volunteers supported 77 of the events studied in the GSI Report with the Pan/Parapan American Games using the highest number of volunteers in 2015.

11. Legacy Impact

Legacy, the word used for many years to describe what impact is left after the event has moved on, has been replaced by a new buzzword: sustainability.

But whatever the term, the important question is: Does sport really deliver a positive impact for the host nation, whether that be economically, socially or otherwise?

2016 represents the culmination of another Olympic cycle with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But what legacy did the last Olympic cycle provide for London and Sochi, the hosts of the summer and winter Olympic Games in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Our industry experts explore some of the key legacy impacts of these two Olympic Games and what we are likely to see from Rio.

12. Event Analysis Data

Where do each of the 83 world championships and multisport games in 2015 rank, according to GSI’s innovative scoring system?

How many spectators, athletes, officials and media visited each event? And how many bed nights did the event participants create?

The events pages present up to 37 data analysis points on each major event of 2015, analyse the relative impacts that are created by each event, and include tourism impact insight from Sportcal’s exclusive bed nights analysis.


Full list of Events analysed:
Sport GSI Events Event/Competition
Air Sports FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015
Archery World Archery Championships 2015
Athletics IAAF 41st World Cross Country Championships 2015
Athletics IAAF World Athletics Championships 2015
Badminton TOTAL BWF World Championships 2015
Badminton VIVO BWF Sudirman Cup 2015
Baseball WBSC Premier12 2015
Beach soccer FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2015
Beach volleyball FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships 2015
Biathlon 47th World Biathlon Championships 2015
Bobsleigh BMW FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships 2015
Boxing AIBA World Boxing Championships 2015
Canoeing ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships 2015
Canoeing ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships 2015
Cricket ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Curling Ford World Men's Curling Championship 2015
Curling ZEN-NOH World Women's Curling Championship 2015
Cycling - BMX UCI BMX World Championships 2015
Cycling - cyclo-cross UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships 2015
Cycling - indoor UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships 2015
Cycling - mountain bike UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships 2015
Cycling - mountain bike UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships 2015
Cycling - road UCI Road World Championships 2015
Cycling - track UCI Track World Championships 2015
Fencing Fencing World Championships 2015
Field hockey FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2015
Figure skating World Figure Skating Championships 2015
Floorball Floorball Women's World Championships 2015
Games 17th Pan American Games 2015
Games 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games
Games African Games 2015
Games European Games 2015
Games Pacific Games 2015
Games Parapan American Games 2015
Games World Winter Masters Games 2015
Gymnastics - artistic Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 2015
Gymnastics - rhythmic Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship 2015
Handball Men's World Handball Championship 2015
Handball Women's World Handball Championships 2015
Ice hockey IIHF World Championships 2015
Ice hockey IIHF World Women's Championships 2015
Judo World Judo Championships 2015
Korfball IKF World Korfball Championship 2015
Luge Luge World Championships - Artificial Track 2015
Modern pentathlon UIPM Biathle and Triathle World Championships 2015
Modern pentathlon World Modern Pentathlon Championships 2015
Netball Netball World Cup 2015
Orienteering World Orienteering Championships 2015
Roller sports World Roller Speed Skating Championships 2015
Rowing FISA World Rowing Championships 2015
Rugby union Rugby World Cup 2015
Sailing ISAF Team Racing World Championship 2015
Sailing ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship 2015
Shooting ISSF World Championships in Shotgun 2015
Short track speed skating World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2015
Skiing - alpine FIS Alpine World Ski Championship 2015
Skiing - freestyle FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships 2015
Skiing - Nordic combined FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015
Soccer FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Softball WBSC Men's World Championships 2015
Speed skating World Allround Speed Skating Championships 2015
Speed skating World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships 2015
Speed skating World Sprint Speed Skating Championships 2015
Squash PSA Men's World Championship 2015
Surfing ISA World Surfing Games 2015
Swimming 16th FINA World Championships 2015
Synchronised skating World Synchronized Skating Championships 2015
Table tennis QOROS World Table Tennis Championships 2015
Taekwondo World Taekwondo Championships 2015
Taekwondo WTF World Cup Team Taekwondo Championships
Ten-pin bowling World Tenpin Bowling Championships for Women 2015
Trampoline Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships 2015
Triathlon 2015 Hamburg ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships
Triathlon 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago
Triathlon 2015 Motala ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships
Triathlon 2015 Sardegna ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships
University sports Summer Universiade 2015
University sports Winter Universiade 2015
Wakeboard IWWF World Wakeboard Championship 2015
Waterskiing IWWF World Waterski Championship 2015
Weightlifting World Weightlifting Championships 2015
Wrestling UWW World Championships 2015
Wushu 13th World Wushu Championships 2015
Major Cups, Leagues, Series and Tours
American Football Canadian Football League (CFL) 2015
American Football National Football League (NFL) 2015
American Football NCAA National College Football (Division I-FBS) 2015
American Football NCAA National College Football (Division I-FCS) 2015
American Football NCAA National College Football (Division II) 2015
American Football NCAA National College Football (Division III) 2015
Athletics World Marathon Majors 2015
Australian Football AFL Premiership 2015
Baseball Major League Baseball (MLB) 2015
Baseball Minor League Baseball (MiLB) 2015
Baseball Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) 2015
Basketball National Basketball Association (NBA) 2014-2015
Basketball NCAA Men's Basketball 2014-2015
Basketball NCAA Men's Basketball (Division I) 2014-2015
Basketball NCAA Men's Basketball (Division II) 2014-2015
Basketball NCAA Men's Basketball (Division III) 2014-2015
Cricket Big Bash Twenty20 Cricket League 2014-2015
Cycling Giro d'Italia 2015
Cycling Tour de France 2015
Cycling Vuelta a España 2015
Ice Hockey National Hockey League (NHL) 2014-2015
Motor Racing MotoGP 2015
Rugby League National Rugby League (NRL) 2015
Rugby League Super League 2015
Rugby Union European Challenge Cup 2014-2015
Rugby Union European Champions Cup 2014-2015
Rugby Union English Premiership 2014-2015
Rugby Union PRO12 2014-2015
Rugby Union Super Rugby 2015
Rugby Union Top 14 2014-2015
Rugby Union Rugby Championship 2015
Rugby Union Six Nations Championship 2015
Soccer Bundesliga 2014-2015
Soccer Bundesliga 2 2014-2015
Soccer Chinese Super League 2015
Soccer English Championship 2014-2015
Soccer Eredivisie 2014-2015
Soccer Indian Super League 2015
Soccer La Liga 2014-2015
Soccer Liga MX 2014-2015
Soccer Ligue 1 2014-2015
Soccer Major League Soccer (MLS) 2015
Soccer Premier League 2014-2015
Soccer Serie A 2014-2015
Soccer AFC Champions League 2014-2015
Soccer CONCACAF Champions League 2014-2015
Soccer Copa Libertadores 2014-2015
Soccer UEFA Champions League 2014-2015
Soccer UEFA Europa League 2014-2015
Tennis Australian Open 2015
Tennis French Open 2015
Tennis US Open 2015
Tennis Wimbledon 2015
Tennis Davis Cup 2015
Tennis Fed Cup 2015
Tennis ATP World Tour 2015
Tennis WTA Tour 2015


List of Sports

67 sport disciplines covered in analysis
Air Sports  
American football  
Australian football  
Beach soccer  
Beach volleyball  
Cycling - BMX  
Cycling - cyclo-cross  
Cycling - indoor  
Cycling - mountain bike  
Cycling - road  
Cycling - track  
Field hockey  
Figure skating  
Gymnastics - artistic  
Gymnastics - rhythmic  
Ice hockey  
Modern pentathlon  
Motor Racing  
Roller sports  
Rugby league  
Rugby union  
Short track speed skating  
Skiing - alpine  
Skiing - freestyle  
Skiing - Nordic combined  
Speed skating  
Synchronised skating  
Table tennis  
Ten-pin bowling  
University sports  


List of Nations and Cities

Continent Nation City
Africa Republic of the Congo Brazzaville
Asia China Beijing
Asia China Dongguan
Asia China Guiyang
Asia China Shanghai
Asia China Suzhou
Asia Indonesia Jakarta
Asia Indonesia Jakarta
Asia Japan Sapporo
Asia Japan Sapporo
Asia Japan Tokyo
Asia Kazakhstan Astana
Asia Kazakhstan Astana
Asia Korea Gwangju
Asia Malaysia Johor Bahru
Asia Qatar Doha
Asia Qatar Doha
Asia Taiwan Douliu
Asia Taiwan Kaohsiung
Asia Taiwan Taichung
Asia Taiwan Taoyuan
Asia Taiwan Tianmu
Asia UAE Abu Dhabi
Asia UAE Dubai
Europe Andorra Vallnord
Europe Austria Kreischberg
Europe Azerbaijan Baku
Europe Belgium Antwerp
Europe Belgium Ghent
Europe Belgium Heusden-Zolder
Europe Belgium Tielen
Europe Czech Republic Ostrava
Europe Czech Republic Tabor
Europe Denmark Frederikshavn
Europe Denmark Copenhagen
Europe Denmark Herning
Europe Denmark Kolding
Europe Denmark Middelfart
Europe Denmark Næstved
Europe Denmark Odense
Europe Denmark Prague 
Europe England London
Europe England Rutland
Europe Finland Kontiolahti
Europe Finland Tampere
Europe France Aiguebelette
Europe France Saint-Quentin
Europe Georgia Batumi
Europe Germany Berlin
Europe Germany Hamburg
Europe Germany Leipzig
Europe Germany Stuttgart
Europe Germany Winterberg
Europe Italy Lonato
Europe Italy Milan
Europe Italy Orosei
Europe Italy Selva Val Gardena
Europe Latvia Sigulda
Europe Netherlands Amsterdam
Europe Netherlands Apeldoorn
Europe Netherlands Heerenveen
Europe Netherlands Rotterdam
Europe Netherlands The Hague
Europe Portugal Gaia
Europe Russia Chelyabinsk
Europe Russia Kazan
Europe Russia Moscow
Europe Russia Moscow
Europe Scotland Glasgow
Europe Scotland Inverness
Europe Slovakia Štrbské Pleso
Europe Spain Grenada
Europe Sweden Falun
Europe Sweden Malmo
Europe Sweden Motala
Europe United Kingdom Birmingham
Europe United Kingdom Brighton
Europe United Kingdom Cardiff
Europe United Kingdom Exeter
Europe United Kingdom Gloucester
Europe United Kingdom Leeds
Europe United Kingdom Leicester
Europe United Kingdom London
Europe United Kingdom Manchester
Europe United Kingdom Milton Keynes
Europe United Kingdom Newcastle
North America Canada Calgary
North America Canada Edmonton
North America Canada Halifax
North America Canada Hamilton
North America Canada Moncton
North America Canada Montreal
North America Canada Ottowa
North America Canada Quebec City
North America Canada Saskatoon
North America Canada Toronto
North America Canada Toronto
North America Canada Toronto
North America Canada Vancouver
North America Canada Winnipeg
North America Mexico Cancun
North America Mexico Chapala
North America Mexico Mexico City
North America Nicaragua Popoyo
North America USA Beaver Creek
North America USA Bellevue
North America USA Chicago
North America USA Houston
North America USA Las Vegas
North America USA Los Angeles
North America USA Richmond
North America USA Vail
Oceania Australia Adelaide
Oceania Australia Brisbane
Oceania Australia Canberra
Oceania Australia Hobart
Oceania Australia Melbourne
Oceania Australia Perth
Oceania Australia Sydney
Oceania Australia Sydney
Oceania New Zealand Auckland
Oceania New Zealand Christchurch
Oceania New Zealand Dunedin
Oceania New Zealand Hamilton
Oceania New Zealand Napier
Oceania New Zealand Nelson
Oceania New Zealand Wellington
Oceania Papua New Guinea Port Moresby
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