University of Birmingham: Legacy of major sporting events for disadvantaged people and communities | India Education | Latest Education News | Global Educational News


The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham have come to an end. The successful execution of this event amid the three major challenges of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine demonstrated the ability of Birmingham and the West Midlands to host major events. “One Games for All” was the slogan and mission of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, reflecting Birmingham’s character as a diverse city. Now that the games are over and people are talking about Legacies, it’s just as important to make sure there are Legacies for everyone.

Hosting major sporting events is a high priority for Birmingham and the UK in general. Over the past few decades, the UK has hosted some of the most iconic sporting events in the world, including the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Manchester 2002 Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to name a few; and Birmingham has hosted the 2003 and 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships in addition to the recent 2022 Commonwealth Games and has hosted yearly All England Open Badminton Championships etc.

As part of a new ‘Golden Decade’ of events for the city, Birmingham has just submitted bids to host the 2026 European Athletics Championships and the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. And that’s not all! Even more exciting than that, as Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward hinted at a recent press conference, is the suggestion that the city could bid to host the Olympics. This approach seems consistent with our findings elsewhere regarding the use of an event portfolio strategy to continuously build the host city’s branding and global reputation.

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Despite all the anticipation, we know that holding major events costs public money and requires significant investments. According to the official Games website, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games secured a £24million business and tourism scheme; providing 40,000 new jobs and volunteer opportunities; organized the six-month Birmingham 2022 festival and put together seven free neighborhood festival sites and so on. But without going into the details of the legacy valuation, many of the headlines above can only be viewed as short-term positives.

Little is known about the long-term benefits — including sustained participation in physical activity — of large-scale events for host communities, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged areas.”
dr Shushu Chen – Lecturer in Sport Policy and Management, Faculty of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Although hosting major events is likely to produce long-term positive outcomes, such as urban regeneration, trade and investment promotion and soft power, little is known about the long-term benefits – including sustained participation in physical activity – of large-scale events for host communities, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

Through a partnership with the Birmingham Race Impact Group, a multidisciplinary team of experts from the University of Birmingham came together in May 2022 to fill this gap.

Phase one of this research project focuses on understanding the realities of sporting event legacies in disadvantaged communities. Our information comes from a variety of sources and we look at information from previous major sporting events – both academic papers and reports from organizers of those events. We look at how social media is used during games. We’ve also visited some of Birmingham’s most deprived areas – Aston, Balsall Heath, Erdington, Ladywood, Lozells, Handsworth, Newtown, Perry Barr and Sparkbrook – and asked community members what they think of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the implications and legacies they expected. Together, this information from the various sources will help us find solutions to ensure everyone living in the diverse city of Birmingham can benefit from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and future events.

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While we have spotted glimmers of potential legacies that could enliven people’s lives, structural and personal challenges remain the key barriers to event attendance and access to legacies, requiring shared leverage to enable legacies; especially considering Birmingham’s 10-year ambition to host major events, strategic governance and legacy planning for communities seems more important than ever.

dr Shushu Chen – Lecturer in Sport Policy and Management, Faculty of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

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