The Impact of International Sporting Events and Local Residents

Table of Contents


Industrialized and developing countries bid for hosting such mega-sporting events as the Olympic Games and the World Cup. This happens mostly because of the economic benefits the country which hosts the tournaments gets. International sporting events proved to produce a certain impact on the residents of the countries which host them. The purpose of this research paper is to find out what these impacts involve.


Major sporting events are, as a rule, shared by some communities living within the country. It is rather expensive to host such events but their contribution to the local economy is quite significant. Such mega-sporting events as World Cup and Olympic Games attract innumerable visitors from foreign countries, which has a certain influence on the residents and economy of the host country in general. This is why nation-states compete like real sportsmen for the right to host mega-sporting events. Developing nations do not want to lag claiming that they also have the right to host these events to gain profits afterward. However, it is still unclear what impact major sporting events have on residents, what influence they have on their communities before and after the sporting event, and how the host countries benefit from these events. The purpose of this paper is to state how exactly such mega-sporting events as World Cup and Olympic Games affect the residents of the country hosting these events.

World Cup and Olympic Games as Major Mega-Sporting Events

The first Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and now continue to be held every four years. International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the organization responsible for the carrying out of this tournament, as well as for the Winter Olympic Games which are also held every four years. The site of the Olympic Games, both Winter and Summer Games, is determined by the IOC seven years before the beginning of the actual event. In 1984 Los Angeles hosted Summer Olympic Games which brought the city $200 million profit. Since then, some cities have been aiming to host the Olympic Games being driven simply by economic motivations. Mostly western industrialized nations are allowed to hold the Olympic Games. Over the period from 1896 till 2004 only seven out of twenty-five Summer Games have been held in the cities of Australia, Canada, and the United States. The rest of the tournament was held in Western European cities. Only the Games of 1968 and 1988 were hosted by developing nations, namely Seoul and Mexico City. Developing nations started demanding to hold the games, which ended with Beijing winning the right to hold the Olympic Games of 2008.

The first World Cup was held in 1930 as a response to the popularity of soccer competitions acquired during the Summer Olympics. At present, the World Cup is held every four years and the place where it is going to take place is defined by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (commonly known as FIFA). Since 1930 some countries including Uruguay, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Sweden, France, Brazil, England, the United States of America, and a lot of others have been hosting the World Cup. In, general, the competition consists of 32 teams competing with each other for over a month; this phase is often referred to as World Cup Finals. It is preceded by a qualification phase taking place three years before the tournament; this phase helps to determine which of the competing teams qualify for the tournament. Germany hosted the most recent World Cup in 2006, which ended up with Italy defeating France in the final. The next World Cup is expected to be held in South Africa in 2010.

The nations’ striving to host mega-sporting events is usually justified by their desire to get profits and to boost the countries’ economies. It is a rare occurrence that the government of the host countries pays attention to the impact these sporting events produced on the residents. Mega-sporting events held in the country disrupt the community life, change social and leisure habits of residents, and result in the increase of crime, substance abuse, and intergroup hostility; however, the residents of the countries where the tournaments were held state that mega-sporting events unite their communities, evoke respect for their country and traditions and improve cultural interaction of different nations.

Literature Review

The influence of mega-sporting events on the residents of the countries which host them has been studied by a number of scholars. Some of them dedicated their studies to the effect produced on the economy of the host country, some explored how these events affected local residents, and others described sports tourism in general and terrorism related safety and security of the mega-sporting events. All the articles contributed greatly into the development of the topic and gave a perfect idea of the effect produced by the Olympic Games and the World Cup on the host countries. The objective of this literature review is to discuss, analyze, and evaluate the studies of other scholars in order to define how such mega-sporting events as Olympic Games and World Cup affect the host countries in terms of their impact on the local residents. Only four out of ten articles describe the impact of mega-sporting events on the residents of the countries which host them; however, the rest of the articles are also informative and relevant; they give useful information about the mega-sporting events and the issues associated with them.

The first article under consideration is “The Perceived Social Impacts of the 2006 Football World Cup on Munich Residents” written by Susanne Ohmann, Ian Jones, and Keith Wilkes. The authors of the article studied the social impact of 2006 Football World Cup on Munich residents. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 180 residents, 132 of who participated in face-to-face interviews. “Findings from the study suggested that the impacts were largely perceived as positive by residents, especially in terms of urban regeneration, increased sense of security, positive fan behavior, and the general atmosphere surrounding the event.” (Ohmann, Jones, & Wlkes, 2006) The article gives several definitions of the term “social impact” presented by other scholars, such as Olsen, Merwin, Mathieson, Wall, and others. Utilizing the studies of other researchers makes the information presented in the article objective and reliable. Grouping the studies of different scholars, the article describes some of the positive and negative social impacts of mega-sporting events on the community of the host country. Among positive impacts there are “shared experience, revitalizing traditions, building community pride and identity, validation of community pride, improved regional identity”, as well as “strengthening of traditions and values, adaptation of new social patterns or cultural forms, increased voluntarism and community group activity and intercultural interaction.” (Ohmann et al, 2006) Among the negative effects the article names “community alienation, manipulation of community, negative community image, bad behavior, substance abuse, social dislocation” together with “intergroup hostility, displacement of tenants due to increased housing prices, reduction of quality of life for low-income groups due to inflated goods and services, prostitution, increase of crime” (Ohmann et al, 2006), etc. After conducting a poll among the local residents, the authors of the article concluded that the World Cup mostly positively affected Munich residents, since negative impacts were not identified by the latter as key issues.

The research conducted on the World Cup’s impact on South Koreans showed similar results. The study was described in the article “The impact of the 2002 World Cup on South Korea: comparisons of the pre- and post-games” by Hyun Jeong Kim, Dogan Gursoy, and Soo-Bum Lee. The researchers’ study was aimed at finding out the residents’ perceptions of how the World Cup affected their communities. MANOVA and ANOVA tests were used to analyze the residents’ perceptions before and after the game. Just like Ohmann et al, the authors of this article concluded that the event had a positive effect on the community. However, the article emphasizes that the country failed to get the profits it counted on, which changed the residents’ perception of the World Cup impact. The article also underlines that “the games were held without creating any major negative economic, societal, and cultural impacts” and that “vandalism, prostitution, crime, and increases in the price of real estate and goods and services were much less than residents expected.” (Kim, Gursoy, & Lee, 2004) Therefore, apart from not getting the expected profits, South Korea and its residents benefited from the 2002 World Cup.

One more study dedicated to defining the residents’ perception of the FIFA 2002 World Cup was conducted by Samuel Seonseop Kim and James Petrick. Unlike the aforementioned study, this one describes the perceptions of the event’s impact by the residents of two countries, Korea and Japan. The study comes from the article “Residents’ perceptions on impacts of the FIFA 2002 World Cup: the case of Seoul as a host city”. The studies described above did not distinguish between different occupations of the local residents of the host countries. This is the subject of the article by Kim & Petrick which states that “Perceptions of social and cultural impacts of a sports mega-event are likely to differ across residents socio-demographic profiles because each segment has its own social exchange relations with other stakeholders in hosting the mega-even.” (Kim & Petrick, 2005) Taking this into account, the researchers explored the perceptions of residents depending on their socio-demographic characteristics. The study concluded that World Cup had both negative and positive effects on the local residents. Among the negative impacts there are “negative economic perspective, disorder and conflicts, and traffic problem and congestion”, whereas the positive ones include “tourism resource development and urban revitalization, image enhancement and consolidation, economic benefits, interest in foreign countries or their cultures, and tourism infrastructure development.” (Kim & Petrick, 2005) At this, younger residents displayed high level of perception of negative impacts, female residents equally highly perceived both positive and negative impacts, and the housewives respondents indicated that they “experienced a high positive impact of the soccer event, whereas they experienced a low level of negative impact compared to other occupation groups.” (Kim & Petrick, 2005)

The final article dealing directly with the impact of sports mega-events on the residents of the host country is “The Impact of Hosting Major Sporting Events on Local Residents: an Analysis of the Views and Perceptions of Canterbury Residents in Relation to the Tour de France 2007” written by Chris Bull and Jane Lovell. The article briefly gives background information about Tour de France and comments on economic and social impacts of major sporting events on the host countries and their residents. Analyzing the studies of other researchers, Bull & Lovell state that the major social impact of the mega-events consists in “community involvement, integration and interaction.” (Bull & Lovell 2007) Positive social impact of these events, according to them, lies in creating “better social interaction, helping to develop community cohesion, increasing cultural and social understanding, and improving the community’s identity and confidence in itself.” (Bull & Lovell, 2007) As far as Canterbury residents are concerned, the researchers concluded that the World Cup had a positive effect on the local residents, since the majority of the respondents stated that the event brought a number of social and cultural benefits to their city.

The article “The Four ‘Knowns’ of Sports Mega-Events” by John Horne does not explore any impact of the mega-events of the residents of the host country but it is also relevant since it gives a perfect idea of what such events involve. The author of the article identifies two major features of mega-events; they are “first, that they are deemed to have significant consequences for the host city, region, or nation in which they occur, and second, that they will attract considerable media coverage.” (Horne, 2005) In this article the author presents a brief history of the World Cup and Olympic Games, as well as points out what the hosting of these events involves. He states that social and economic benefits for the countries hosting these events are often overestimated, since not only profits but the expenses for their organization are considerable. The author concludes that hosting a mega-event is not the best way out for the country which is seeking economic boost, “Sport mega-events are a significant part of the experience of modernity but they cannot be a panacea for its social and economic problems.” (Horne, 2005) Therefore, the author advises the country to assess their economic possibilities before applying for the right to host them.

The rest of the articles deal with the issues connected with holding such international sporting events as the Olympic Games and the World Cup. For instance, the article “Sport Mega-Events in Africa: Processes, Impacts and Prospects” by Scarlett Cornelissen is about the economic benefits for the countries which host mega-events; in particular, the article describes motivations and objectives which the African states had for bidding for 2006 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the 2003 Crocket World Cup. The article states that most of the states bidding for hosting mega-sporting events have not only economical but political goals as well; this, as Cornelissen emphasizes, is especially true about the African government. Unlike the articles discussed above, this one does not contain any studies simply laying out the facts about 2006 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the 2003 Crocket World Cup and concluding that African government uses mega-sporting events for “consolidating national legitimacy or as a means of nation-building.” (Cornelissen, 2004)

Another article, “Sports Tourism and Its Impact on Tourism Destinations – The Case of Istria” written by Sanela Skoric, deals with sports tourism and its benefits. The article describes the problem of seasonality stating that sports tourism may help in overcoming this problem. The author of the article tried to test this assumption in case with Istria, the region in Croatia where the tourism is developed most of all. The article concludes that sports tourism allows “extending the tourist season, overcoming the seasonal character of tourism, […] and improving the diversity and quality of the tourism offer.” (Skoric, 2008)

Finally, the three remaining articles deal with economic and safety issues which hosting of mega-sporting events involves. Thus, the article “Managing Personnel in Major Sport Event Organizations: What Strategies are Required?” by Hanlon & Stewart describes management processes and “sport-specific management practices for personnel” (Hanlon & Stewart, 2006) which hosting of mega-sporting events requires. The article describes these processes and practices as well as the principles of managing personnel in the course of mega-sporting events. One more article, “Analysis of spending patterns of visitors of three World Cup Cricket matches in Potchefstroom, South Africa” by Melville Saayman, Andrea Saauman, and Corrie du Plessis, pays special attention to the factors which influence visitors’ spending patterns; according to the findings, these factors include “age, income, nationality, number of visitors” (Saauman M., Saauman A., & Plessis, 2005), etc. Lastly, the article “Impacts of Terrorism-Related Safety and Security Measures at a Major Sport Event” by Tailor & Toohey presents the information on security measures which should be taken when hosting mega-sporting events. The researchers surveyed people who attended 2003 Rugby World Cup who stated that they “felt safe and that the security measures in place neither enhanced nor detracted from their level of enjoyment.” (Tailor & Toohey, 2006) This is what, according to the article, the countries which host mega-sporting events should strive for.

In sum, the literature review revealed that international mega-sporting events mostly have positive impact on the residents of the countries which host them. A number of articles were analyzed and evaluated. All of them contributed greatly into the research paper due to valuable information presented in them. The articles by Ohmann et al, Kim et al, Kim & Petrick, and Bull & Lovell were the most valuable since they were directly related to the topic. Other articles were no less relevant because they described the issues which hosting of mega-sporting events involves. These included general information about international sporting events and spots tourism, managing personnel in the course of these events, analyzing visitors’ spending patterns and security which should be ensured in the course of the events.

The purpose of this research is to find out the impact of international sporting events on the residents of the countries which host them. Methodology for this research paper should allow collecting and analyzing a great amount of data. To find out which impact international sporting events have on the residents of the country which hosts them, the study should be limited to exploring one or two separate countries (for the results to be more exact and reliable). The best approach which can be adopted within this study will be measuring of local residents’ perceptions regarding the event held by their country. This can be measured by interviews, either face-to-face or carried out by means of questionnaires. This method not only allows collecting large amounts of data but also easily storing, analyzing, comparing, and evaluating them. This will be helpful in calculating the results of the study making them objective because the information will be delivered by the residents directly.

The face-to-face interview will contain questions which will help the interviewees express their opinion about the international sporting events hosted by their country. Face-to-face interview should not be limited by yes/no questions; this will help to find out why exactly the interviewee is for or against the event’s taking place in his/her country and which positive or negative social impact the event, to his/her point of view, may involve. Questionnaires should include mostly yes/no questions or the questions demanding short answers. These may be the questions about the person’s age, gender, social status, and other socio-demographic characteristics.

After obtaining the results, the researcher will arrange the data in tables or diagrams which will help to group similar responds and define the overall attitude of the respondents to the mega-sporting event hosted by their country. This will further be used for measuring the impact of the mega-sporting events on the local residents.


Different countries try to get a right of hosting international sporting events mostly because of economic benefit. Indeed, most of the countries which hosted the tournament earlier generated unbelievable high profits; moreover, hosting of the mega-sporting event allows the country or the city to become well-known, which is likely to attract a bigger number of visitors after the game. However, not many studies have been exploring the social impact of mega-sporting events. This research is dedicated namely to the impact of mega-sporting events on the communities of the countries which host them. Basing on the results of the studies of numerous researchers, the impact produced by Olympic Games and the World Cup on the residents of the countries which hosted them was mostly positive; the negative impacts the tournaments entailed were not regarded by the community as the ones which made the event non-beneficial for their country, except for the case with the South Korea and 2002 World Cup.

The studies which have been analyzed concluded that mega-sporting events result in intercultural interaction, revitalizing of traditions, improving community identity, and developing tourism in the host country. These, and a number of other, benefits were mentioned by the local residents of the countries which hosted such tournaments as the World Cup or Olympic Games. Although the mega-sporting events involved increase in housing prices as well as in prices for food and services, increase in alcohol consumption, and vandalism, the local residents remained satisfied with the tournaments stating that they produced positive social impact on their communities. This, however, is only partially true about the residents of South Korea who changed their idea about the benefits of the tournament for their country after they had found out that it failed to bring the expected revenues to their country.

The only recommendation for the countries which are planning to host the tournaments in future will be never to bid for hosting the tournament if their only purpose is boosting their economies. This is likely to result in economic collapse (for organization of the tournament demands high expenses) and negative impact on local residents who might not be ready to accept changes which the tournament will involve (which may result in cultural conflicts).


International sporting events produce immense effect on the countries which host them. Despite this, most of the countries bid for the right to host the World Cup and Olympic Games because it, as a rule, generates significant profits. Mega-sporting events also have a tangible impact on the residents of the country which host them. The research has revealed that this impact is mostly positive and, though the tournaments entail increased housing and services prices, increased alcohol consumption and vandalism, the positive impacts prevail. Such mega-sporting events as the Olympic Games and the World Cup result in cultural interaction of people from different cultures, re-evaluation of local traditions, and improving the identity of the local community.


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Cornelissen, S. (2004), Sport Mega-Events in Africa: Process, Impacts and Prospects. Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 1 (1), 39-55.

Hanlon & Stewart. (2006). Managing Personnel in Major Sport Event Organizations: What Strategies are Required?” Event Management, 10, 77-88.

Horne, J. (2007). The Four ‘Knowns’ of Sports Mega-Events. Leisure Studies, 26(1), 81-96.

Kim, H.H., Gursoy, D., & Lee, S.B. (2006). The impact of the 2002 World Cup on South Korea: comparisons of the pre- and post-games. Tourism Management, 27, 86-96.

Kim, S.S. & Petrick J.F. (2005). Residents’ perceptions on impacts of the FIFA 2002 World Cup: the case of Seoul as a host city. Tourism Management, 26, 25-38.

Ohmann, S., Jones, I., & Wilkes, K. (2006). The Perceived Social Impacts of the 2006 Football World Cup on Munich Residents. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 11(2), 129-152.

Saayman, M., Saayman, A., & Plessis, C. (2005). Journal of Sport Tourism, 10(3), 211-221.

Skoric, S. (2008). Sports Tourism and Its Impact on Tourism Destinations – the Case of Istria. Acta turistica, 20(1), 1-144.

Taylor, T & Toohey, K. (2006). Impacts of Terrorism-Related Safety and Security Measures as a Major Sport Event. Event Management, 9,199-209.

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