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OECD issues independent guides to measure long-term impacts of global events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games

September 21 2023 - News Release News Editorial

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued two guides to assist global sports, business and cultural event organisers and their stakeholders in monitoring, measuring and evaluating the social, economic and environmental benefits of their events using robust and evidence-driven methodology.

OECD issues independent guides to measure long-term impacts of global events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The guides were developed by the OECD in consultation with academics and experts, event hosts, future Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), foundations, governments, policy-makers and international organisations including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new guidelines are being pioneered by the IOC and OCOGs to enable consistent and reliable assessment of the legacy of different editions of the Olympic Games.

“This gives us a credible, third-party-developed framework to measure the impact of the Olympic Games for host communities and territories,” said Dr Tania Braga, the IOC’s Head of Olympic Games Impact and Legacy.

“Until now there have been a lot of recommendations for measuring impact which were not aligned with each other. The OECD has harmonised those recommendations, in consultation with its country members and third parties, to help hosts work out when, what and how to measure.”

Paris 2024 will be the first Olympic Games to benefit. The Paris 2024 Organising Committee has worked with the IOC and the OECD since 2021 to adapt the guidelines to the context of Paris and France, while helping to produce key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to measure, monitor and evaluate the impact of future global events.

“It is very important to think about this topic from the very beginning,” said Marie Barsacq, Executive Director of Impact and Legacy for Paris 2024. “Organising spectacular Games is important, but it is also important to organise responsible Games – socially, economically and environmentally. We really want the Games to benefit a large population by addressing key societal issues such as education, inclusion, health, equality and solidarity.”

The guides address some of the difficulties around monitoring by offering tools to calculate credible economic impact multipliers, including, for example, the concept of “net injection” to account only for the investments that come from outside and are spent inside the host territory – disregarding investments that would have been made irrespective of the event. There is a recommendation to update estimates at regular intervals before the Games and to assess the real impact after the Games.

“One problem we had in the past was that there were estimations made before the event, but no evaluation afterwards to see what had been delivered,” explained Dr Braga.

The guides recommend that event organisers work with host governments to capture quality data, with the possibility to leverage OECD support. The different contexts and legacy objectives for each edition of the Games are taken into account.

“Events measure different things, and even when they measure the same things, they do it in different ways,” said Dr Martha Bloom, Policy Analyst in the Culture, Creative Sectors and Global Events Unit at the OECD. “This makes it really challenging to compare between events of different types and the same event over time or in different locations. It is difficult to identify what works and what doesn’t work, which then hampers the ability to learn from past mistakes and improve practice. These guides build on work that is already out there, to find common approaches to measure the impact of major events.”

“Global events can have a significant impact on local development,” said Karen Maguire, Head of Division for the Local Employment and Economic Development Programme at the OECD. “Yet measuring in a consistent, reliable and comprehensive way can be challenging. This guidance provides an overview of approaches to impact assessment, discusses the issues, challenges and considerations to be made in conducting impact evaluations, and offers a set of actions which event hosts can take to improve impact assessments. In doing so, the guides support the OECD Recommendation on Global Events and Local Development, which helps countries and future hosts bring greater local benefits and legacies from global events.”

The guides have also been welcomed by WHO. Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the WHO’s Physical Activity Unit, said: “This is a significant step forward to meet our shared goals in achieving the outcomes from mega events.”

Towards the end of this year, Paris 2024 will update the estimates carried out in 2017 with real data, and bring in variables that have changed over time, such as inflation.

It is a requirement for all Olympic hosts to follow the guides, starting with the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2030, for which a host has yet to be elected, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Brisbane 2032.

The IOC will update potential Olympic hosts on the guidelines so that these can be integrated into future socio-economic impact studies.

The guides can be found here:

Webinar: Webinars and Workshops – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (oecd.org)

Images: Paris 2024

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