The health and socioeconomic impacts of major multi-sport events
posted on: May 21, 2010
A new systematic review conducted by the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and published on bmj.com suggests that there is insufficient evidence to show that major multi-sport events like the Olympics provide health or socioeconomic benefits to the host population.
Dr Gerry McCartney and colleagues reviewed 54 studies that assessed the health and socioeconomic impacts of major multi-sport events. The quality of the majority of studies was poor and at risk of bias, with large gaps in a number of outcomes evaluated, especially health. Five studies, each with a high risk of bias, reported health related outcomes, which were suicide, paediatric health service demand, presentations for asthma in children (two studies), and problems related to illicit drug use. Overall, the data did not indicate clear negative or positive health impacts of major multi-sport events on host populations. Economic outcomes were included in 18 studies but the overall impact on economic growth and employment was also unclear. Two thirds of the economic studies reported increased economic growth or employment immediately after the event, but all used some estimated data in their models, failed to account for opportunity costs, or examined only short term effects.
The authors note "future events such as the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics, or the 2014 Commonwealth Games, cannot be expected to automatically provide benefits and better long-term evaluations are needed".