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Walking the talk for sport

Monday, May 25, 2015

The key point hammered home by Simon Morton of UK Sport for the hosting of the London 2012 Summer Olympics was a clearly defined and workable strategic plan aimed at returns on investment. Morton was speaking on the opening day of the Shannon Airport Sport Tourism European Summit at Thomond Park, Limerick, Ireland May 14-15, 2015.  

His presentation was entitled “Hosting Major Sporting Events for Major Sporting Benefits.” He indicated that UK Sport became operational in the 1997 after miserable performances by Great Britain in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics where they placed 37th on the medals table. Although UK Sport is responsible to government, it is not a department of government. In other words, UK Sport which received a budget of 550 million pounds over a four–year period is free from government interference and therefore operates first and foremost like a business with clear targets and strategic plans. 

Strategically UK Sport was charged with the responsibility of developing a 10-year plan and working with national sporting associations. The focus is on High Performance Sport and hosting Major Events. 

For UK Sport funding from the government is viewed not as a grant but as an investment that will yield returns in many quarters–medals, infrastructure development, economic improvements of local communities, tourism and marketability of the city and country to the world. 

Morton indicated that UK Sport is very strategic when it comes to selecting events to hosts. He indicated that there a number of events from which to choose from:

• Short form Games–3 on 3 basketball, T20 cricket, beach volleyball

• Extreme Sports–extreme biking, free running, skate boarding etc

• Masters Events

• Youth–Youth Olympics

• Women Sports

• Disability games

Selection of any of these events must be based on knowledge and a return on investment. He warned that although an event may be attractive, it is only after careful cost benefit analysis is a decision made as to proposing bids to host events. 

The Investment and Scorecard Principles are used to guide the decision making process. In terms of Investment the following were identified as critical:

• How will the International events impact on the host status?

• Prioritise where the return on investments will be the highest

• Identify the long-term investment to host major events

• Ensure that there is a robust business plan and budget

The Scorecard Principles in terms of benefits for hosting were based on:

• Legacy 20 per cent 

• Performance 35 per cent 

• Engagement 35 per cent 

• Economic 10 per cent  

The sporting benefits in terms of Performance Investment was built upon:

• Medal returns (65 in 2012 which was above the target of 48 set by UK Sport)

• Talent outline–identification of the country’s talent

In terms of sport engagement, research on direct participation, spectator engagement and television viewers revealed that 60 per cent said the Summer Olympics was inspiring. There was a 28 per cent  per cent increase in participation especially in events where the Great Britain were domineering such as in cycling through the performances of Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins.

In recognising that inspiration in itself does not automatically lead to increase and sustained participation in sport, UK Sport has been working with Sport England through a Sport Engagement Fund of 2M pounds to stimulate participation across the country. 

The aforementioned points provide a broad framework for all stakeholders who are responsible for identifying and managing international sporting events in T&T.  A clear vision has to be identified and it must be incorporated in the overall development plan for sport. We have to start walking the talk in a strategic manner to reap desired rewards!


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