A quarter of the sporting population (including lapsed participants) are highly responsive to the 'demonstration effect' of a major event

30 June 2017

There are evidence streams that support the idea that major events have a direct impact on participation rates:

  • Events such as the Olympics generate positive messages about participating in sport, especially amongst those who attend directly. 70% of attendees of a major sporting event aged 25 or under felt inspired to either participate or participate more often after attending.
  • Cycling grew in the Netherlands in the lead up to the Olympic success of their national athletes in Athens, and this growth accelerated after the event. 
  • The 2012 'Habit for Life' survey of 25-34 year olds found that 32% of sporty people were inspired to take part in sport by a famous athlete or major sporting event. 

However, there is also evidence to suggest the relationship between major events and inspiring people to participate in sport is not straightforward:

  • According to research published in June 2012, only 15% of adults in the UK were inspired by the Olympics to play more sport
  • There was a decline in physical activity participation for Australians between 1997 and 1999, and no change between 1999 and November 2000 (the Sydney Olympics were hosted in the summer of 2000)
  • A 2009 academic study for Sport England found there was little inspiration amongst those who either rarely or never participated in sport, as they are not emotionally engaged. 

Read the summary of findings in full below or click here for more information about the impact of London 2012.