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Report claims economic impact of up to £1.2bn for Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games Federation chief David Grevemberg (back left) at the starting of the countdown for the Birmingham 2022 Games (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images for Birmingham 2022)

The Commonwealth Games Federation has published an in-depth report which claims that its recent events have offered an economic impact of between £800m ($980m/€897m) and £1.2bn ($1.4bn/€1.3bn) to their host cities.

The CGF commissioned professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to create the Commonwealth Games Value Framework, which details the potential benefits of hosting the Commonwealth Games for cities at different developmental stages, and how the CGF can help potential hosts achieve their goals. 

Speaking to SportBusiness during a conference call yesterday, CGF chief executive David Grevemberg said the organisation had chosen this time to release the report because “more than ever, there’s a need to demonstrate the benefit that you can provide to the communities you serve”.

Grevemberg said: “I think it’s probably more important now than ever that we’ve done a piece of work like this, that shows the value-added benefits that hosting the Commonwealth Games can deliver when done right. What this particular document does is gives the bid team a tool to be able to talk with government and say, ‘look, here are some case studies, here’s some clear testimony and examples of how this proposition can benefit us’. 

“Whether they’re looking for a stimulus package, whether it’s part of the pandemic recovery or part of efforts to reset and rebuild after these challenges and push things forward, we feel that the timeliness of this document is really important.”

The research was based on data from the Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006, Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Delhi 2010 excluded due to a lack of available evidence on long-term impact.

According to the report, the most recent Commonwealth Games, those in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018, delivered an impact of £1.2bn to the local economy, with the biggest boosts being to employment – both before, during and after the event itself – and tourism, which was claimed to have grown by up to a quarter in host cities after the Games. Manchester benefited to the tune of £1.1bn, Melbourne £1bn, and Glasgow £800m. Increased Commonwealth trade deals and investments were also outlined as having contributed up to £400m to host cities. 

Grevemberg said that despite the lack of information on Delhi, the report still gave a rounded overview of host venues, with the Australian cities representing “sustained” markets which had the Games in already strong economies, while the British trio of Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham – which will host the 2022 edition – were “regenerative” and had bid for the Games as part of wider urban redevelopment projects.

“I think what this also does is to aid future hosts in terms of shaping a framework they can use to measure themselves with, and allow us to consistently do these types of comparisons,” Grevemberg said.

“It shows some great case studies, some great best practice examples and shows consistent delivery on value-added, both in the economic sense as well as a social sense, and that helps us shape how we support organising committees to deliver in the future, but also gives potential hosts and current hosts a bit of context and confidence when they’re starting to justify why they want to host the games.”

Covid impact

While the report was commissioned before the Covid-19 pandemic, Grevemberg said that its findings, and the CGF’s existing efforts to reduce its costs, be more sustainable and offer greater value to hosts under its Transformation 2022 initiative would hold it in good stead in the post-pandemic world. He added that while the report provided a framework for assessment and comparison it was import note “that every context is different.” 

“The time is different, the place is different, the demographics and the people are different,” he said, noting the impact that the 2008 financial crash had on Glasgow’s Games, hitting just three months after the city had been awarded the 2014 Games, and comparing it with the potential effects of the pandemic on future editions. 

“Covid certainly is teaching all of us the importance of thinking about agility, contingency, ensuring investments have a long-term relevance and are really sustainable,” he said. “It’s forcing us to cooperate and collaborate differently, to be even more innovative than we already had to be. We have to start looking at, how do we make things more efficient? It’s definitely challenging us to work smarter, and in some cases harder, and probably accelerate in those areas.”

He added that the delays and postponements to many high-profile sporting events over the next two years due to the pandemic had not led to the CGF to look at moving its own games in Birmingham, UK in 2022. “You’ve got to look at all options, but 2023 is already an incredibly a busy year,” he said. “You’ve got the a PanAm Games, a Southeast Asian Games, a European Games, African Games. So that’s just Games you’ve got there. Then there’s Uefa Women’s Euro, cycling championships, the Fina World Championships and another World Athletics Championship. It’s a busy year.”