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Global issue 20

network Commonwealth in Action Game, set and match commonwealth Young people can gain immensely from living in the host nation of a major sports tournament. Up to three-quarters of those who view live events testify to feeling inspired to participate in sport themselves Sport in itself has become a major facet of modern society – almost everyone around the world has access to sports as a participant or spectator. The commercialisation of sport has seen its economic presence rise rapidly, while its popularity and accessibility globally has followed suit. The UK sports industry is estimated at 1.9 per cent of the country’s GDP, placing sport in the top 15 sectors ahead of motor vehicles, telecoms, legal and accounting (Sport England, 2010). With this rise in the popularity of sport, we have also seen an increase in the demand to host major sporting events, a phenomenon some like to refer to as ‘sport diplomacy’. Countries of all economic, political and societal development levels are bidding to bring the world of sport to their country and experience the benefits of hosting a major games event. Gains for the host nation for the London 2012 Games, the message include increased levels of participation was simple: “Choose London and we will in sport, increased tourism, opportunities inspire a new generation to take up sport.” for cultural and public diplomacy, and In a survey done as part of a UK Sport increased investment, which often benefits study, it was established that nearly threequarters elite and grass-roots sport through the of spectators under 25, and half of building of new stadiums and state of the all television event viewers under 25, felt art sports facilities. inspired to participate in sport after being However, a factor that often goes unnoticed a spectator at an event (UK Sport, 2011). is the effect this has on young people. With viewership of major sporting events Young people in all countries are integral to going up and diversifying, through means a nation’s development – and with the large such as social media and internet television, impact that major sporting events have on spectator impact could be a valuable tool society, it is important to highlight what this for governments and stakeholders that are means for the young. working to increase the physical activity of Used in the correct way, and incorporated their nation – a prominent issue globally, into areas such as the education curriculum, especially in the Pacific Island states. extra-curricular activities and personal development, The Commonwealth Games 2014 is sport can help young people another example of a major sporting event gain basic skills, such as teamworking and that had a positive impact on young people communication. It can also help develop in and around the host nation. Hailed as “the personal skills like confidence and leadership. best Games yet”, Glasgow 2014 had more However, one question that many will than 15,000 volunteers who registered as ask is – as a young person, what is there to ‘Clydesiders’ and the uptake of the spirit gain from having a sporting event hosted in and theme of the Games was abundant your country? across Scotland. The London 2012 Games is a modern Glasgow 2014 made a conscious effort example of how a major sporting event to host a sustainable event by using some can have a positive impact on young people of the already existing stadiums for its not just in the host country, but around competitions, involving many proud the world. In the UK’s quest to win the bid Scottish people in the Games through 88 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global volunteering and investing in the legacy of the contest before it even began. Glasgow made a strong effort to build on the Games and use them as an opportunity for sustainable development within the sports sector, through initiatives such as their Community Sports Hubs. With the aim of having 150 hubs in 32 local authorities by 2016, young people in Glasgow are sure to benefit from these Games for a long time. The year 2015 will be filled with major sporting events: the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa from 5-11 September; the first European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan 12-28 June; the Pan American Games in Toronto 10-26 July; and the Central Caribbean Games in Mexico from 15-30 November, to name just a few. Ultimately, it’s evident that there are ways that governments, sports organising committees and various major event stakeholders can use these spectacles to inspire and engage young people in their nation and around the world. As the demand for major sporting events continues to grow among small, medium and large states, it’s important to keep in mind the opportunities these events bring for young people – especially when a targeted plan is put in place – and legacy projects are an important part of the process. Carl Konadu © Korean Olympic Committee CC BY-SA 2.0


Global issue 20
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