Version classiqueVersion mobile

Sport Policy in Canada

Lucie Thibault
Jean Harvey

Section III. Policy issues

Chapter VIII. Hosting Policies of Sport Events

Cora McCloy et Lucie Thibault

Texte intégral

1Hallmark or “mega-events” are large-scale, planned occurrences of limited duration which can have a substantial social, economic, political, environmental and/or cultural impact on the host region (Emery, 2002; Essex & Chalkley, 1998; Hall & Hodges, 1998; Kavestos & Szymanski, 2010; McCloy, 2002; Roche, 2000; Whitson, 2004). Mega-events also involve significant mass media coverage usually on a global scale (Hiller, 2000; Roche, 2000). Multi-sport events such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and Pan American Games, as well as specialist world-level international sport competitions such as the Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA) World Cup and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships fall under the rubric of mega-events. Hiller (2000) further clarified the mega-event description in suggesting that, from an urban analyst perspective:

any large-scale special event can be considered a mega-event if it has a significant and/or permanent urban effect—that is, if it is considered so significant that it reprioritizes the urban agenda in some way and leads to some modification or alteration of urban space which becomes its urban legacy … [and] when it intervenes in the normal functioning of the city to mobilize resources for event preparation and event hosting. (p. 183)

2Canada has frequently held such mega-events in sport. Since the hosting of the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton, the number, cost and impact of such events have steadily increased. Other highprofile and increasingly larger-run multi-sport events include the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games, and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. A complete list of major multi-sport events hosted in Canada is outlined in Table 8.1. As well, several communities across Canada have hosted many large-scale and mid-scale single sport events, for example, the IAAF World Championships in Edmonton in 2001, the 2003 Union cycliste internationale (UCI) Road World Championships in Hamilton, the 2005 Fédération internationale de natation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships in Montreal, the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Under 20 Championships in Ottawa, the 2012 World Women’s Curling Championship in Lethbridge, and the 2012 Fédération internationale de volleyball (FIVB) Junior World Championships in Halifax. The federal government has made significant financial contributions to the hosting of these large-scale events, in some cases, far in excess of the program and operational funding for sport provided through its Sport Canada unit.

Table 8.1 Major International Multi-Sport Games Hosted by Canada





British Empire Games



British Empire and Commonwealth Games



Pan American Games



Olympic Games



Commonwealth Games



Summer Universiade Games



Olympic Winter Games



North American Indigenous Games



North American Indigenous Games

Prince Albert


Commonwealth Games



Winter Special Olympics World Games

Collingwood and Toronto


North American Indigenous Games



Pan American Games



Jeux de la Francophonie



North American Indigenous Games



North American Indigenous Games



Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games



North American Indigenous Games



Pan and Parapan American Games


3The codification of the federal government’s role in the hosting of international sport events began in 1967 during Canada’s centennial year celebrations. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the federal sport hosting policies that have been a part of the policy landscape since 1967. This chapter briefly touches upon the evolution and goals of the 1978 and 1983 hosting policies and more recent variations (1996, 2000) of the policy. Particular attention is devoted to the most recent policy (2008) guiding the federal government’s strategy for hosting multi-sport games and international single sport events.

4Research clearly demonstrates that federal hosting policies have rarely been implemented in a manner that engaged federal officials from the earliest bid stages (Blais, 2003; Macintosh et al., 1987; McCloy, 2002, 2009). The benefits for Canadian amateur sport have not always been fully realized in such a climate (Blais, 2003; McCloy, 2002, 2009). This chapter captures some of the key stages and milestones within policy development and situates the rationale for bidding alongside the achievement of longer term sport and community legacies. The complexities and issues of the hosting sport policy process are also highlighted within this context.

Historical Overview of Canada’s Hosting Policy

5Early in the development of Canada’s sport system, leaders in the federal government felt it was important to have a public policy to guide their involvement in the numerous multi-sport games and single sport events as proposals were submitted by interested Canadian communities and agencies. In addition, the increasing desire on the part of the federal government to achieve greater and longer lasting benefits for the amateur sport community became a vital element of their hosting policy. In the following pages, we review the main features of Canada’s hosting policies since 1967.

The 1967 Hosting Policy

6The 1961 Fitness and Amateur Sport Act (Bill C-131) served as a central element in the development of the first federal sport hosting policy. This first hosting policy was more specifically a Memorandum to Cabinet dated November 23, 1967 by Allan MacEachen, Minister of National Health and Welfare at the time, entitled, Report on Federal Policy in Support of Fitness and Amateur Sport, With Special Reference to the Sponsorship of International Events. During the 1960s, a major concern for the federal government was the commitment of increasingly larger sums of public money to events that some federal Cabinet members felt could not always justify such expenditures. The 1967 Report was commissioned to examine this important issue. This first hosting policy effectively set the stage for subsequent policies in this area (cf. McCloy (2009) for more details on the 1967 hosting policy). The first hosting policy by the Government of Canada (i.e., Sport Canada) was based on similar rationales identified in subsequent reiterations of this policy, which we will discuss in this chapter.

7As noted by McCloy (2009, p. 1167), the 1967 hosting policy was founded on “providing opportunities for Canadian athletes to compete on home soil; another motivation for hosting was a means of strengthening the amateur sport system and showcasing Canadian athletes to the nation.” However, as McCloy argued:

the government’s wish list did not end there, and the past four decades of hosting can affirm that amateur sport would struggle to gain benefits amidst other broad governmental goals combined with influential business leaders vying for a space in the bidding competition. It appears that the centennial celebrations [1967] were clearly an event to celebrate national unity through sport, but hosting the world was an additional goal, one that could further achieve wider governmental goals such as nation-building, showcasing its strength to the outside world, a place to visit (tourism objectives emerged in the 1967 Report) and supporting business and economic opportunities in local hosting communities. (2009, p. 1168)

8It is important to note that similar rhetoric has been evident in many of the motives provided in all subsequent versions of the Canadian government’s hosting policies for international sport events.

The 1978 Hosting Policy

9The creation of Canada’s Hosting Policy: Guidelines for Federal Involvement in Major International and National Amateur Sport Events in Canada (November, 1978) was the next federal policy statement to bring some consistency and rationality to the manner in which bid groups requested federal financial support. The author of the 1978 hosting policy was Iona Campagnolo, the first federal Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport. The 1978 hosting policy applied to both national and international sport events hosted in Canada. There were few, if any, references to the reasons why the policy was created beyond what is included in the text of the document. Campagnolo’s preface to the policy lends key insights into the role of the federal government in hosting and sets the stage for the need for a policy in this area. Specifically, the Minister stated:

in recent years, the federal government has had the opportunity to provide direct and indirect assistance for several major international and national amateur sport events. This assistance has often been provided on an ad hoc basis dependent on the specific circumstances surrounding each event. (Campagnolo, 1978, n.p.)

10Referring to the “considerable” experience Canada had gained in hosting, the Minister contended that the nation’s role as host to amateur sport events would increase. Hosting was also perceived as beneficial for Canadian athlete performances. However, while the policy document acknowledged Canada’s past success as a “desirable” host, the focus was directed to the need for federal procedures to ensure “proper bidding can take place” (Campagnolo, 1978, n.p.). Guidelines for determining federal support were deemed important and would “assist organizing authorities, the federal government, and indeed other levels of government, in working together to determine support for future events” (Campagnolo, 1978, n.p.). This rationale addressed the recurring one-off manner in which bids proceeded and the limited involvement of federal officials in this process and, as such, solidified the role of the federal government in each bidding case.

11The 1978 policy was divided into three major parts: the event approval process, factors affecting level of financial support, and the data to be included in submissions for federal support. Of note, the policy requested that bid applicants address the question of who would benefit from the newly constructed sport facilities in the post-event period. Interestingly, following the approval of this 1978 hosting policy, Campagnolo appeared to bypass this aspect of her own hosting policy by offering Calgary’s bid/organizing committee for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games an informal promise of CA$ 200M in federal government support (Cushing, 1996; McCloy, 2006). According to Cushing (1996), “there was no formal assessment through the government’s hosting policy of the financial request by the Calgary bid/organizing committee” (p. 120).

The 1983 Hosting Policy

12Following the 1978 hosting policy, Sport Canada released a new iteration in June 1983. The rationale for this new policy was borne out of discontent by federal officials with the manner in which events such as the 1983 Summer Universiade Games (a multi-sport event organized by the Fédération internationale du sport universitaire (FISU)), held in Edmonton, proceeded without prior federal approval. The absence of this approval step had immersed the federal officials in a mire of difficult negotiations as government officials struggled to meet the Fitness and Amateur Sport objectives for the period leading up the 1984 Olympic Games (McCloy, 2006).

13In 1981 Gerald Regan, the then Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport, pursued updates to the hosting policy. With the release of the federal government policy paper, A Challenge to the Nation—Fitness and Amateur Sport in the 80s, Regan (1981) sought to continue its commitment to the pursuit of excellence during the decade of the 1980s. In identifying the importance of hosting and redefining the process of taking on the responsibility of staging large games, some of the rationale for an updated policy emerged. According to McCloy’s (2006) findings, some Sport Canada officials characterized the overall climate in amateur sport in Canada following the Montreal Olympic Games and heading into the 1980s as “a rudderless ship.” Concerns were expressed about the dearth of leadership in sport combined with a weak organizational base for national sport. Although Sport Canada officials acknowledged some positive steps with the appointment of the first Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport, Iona Campagnolo, in 1976 and the creation of programs such as Game Plan 76, which provided aid to Canadian athletes leading up to the Montreal Games, an overall lack of financial resources limited the development of sport policies and programs. In addition, with ongoing changes in ministers at the helm, the leadership within Fitness and Amateur Sport suffered from some instability (see Table 1.2 for a list of ministers of state for Fitness and Amateur Sport since 1976).

14The amateur sport scene, however, soon experienced a major injection of focus and energy into the system as measures to enhance its effectiveness, such as the development of a quadrennial planning program for national sport organizations, the creation of national training centres for high performance athletes and the development of coaching training programs, were implemented (Macintosh et al., 1987; Macintosh, 1996). Through both a central leadership change within Sport Canada (with the appointment of Abby Hoffman as Director in 1981) and the selection of Calgary as host city of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, greater emphasis was placed on developing strong national leadership, and Canadian sport began the slow journey towards a stronger sport system.

The 1996 and 2000 Hosting Policies

15The 1996 and 2000 hosting policies are addressed collectively because both of these versions originated from the 1983 policy. As noted in the summative evaluation of Sport Canada’s hosting program, the 1983 hosting policy “was substantially revised in 1996” (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004, p. 10) and then updated in 2000 (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004; Scrimger, 2005). The impetus for the 1996 revisions to the Federal Policy for Hosting International Sport Events was attributed to the increasing number of events being held in Canada as well as the rising costs associated with bidding for and hosting these events (Cushing, 1996). In addition, the context for federal support of sport was changing. From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, the Government of Canada was in a period of retrenchment. During this period, the federal government reconsidered Sport Canada’s financial contributions to sport organizations, programs and services. For example, in a 1988 Task Force Report, Jean Charest (the then Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport) wrote, “in our future plans for sport we should not assume that the federal government alone will maintain its current very high proportionate share of funding” (Government of Canada, 1988, p. 14). Charest believed that Canada’s corporate sector needed to invest in amateur sport. A few years later, in 1993, Prime Minister Kim Campbell undertook some “drastic measures in an effort to cut spending within her government” (Harvey, Thibault, & Rail, 1995, p. 261), and sport was not spared from these cuts. In light of budget cuts, sport leaders within the federal government wanted to ensure that the events in which they invested had “significant sport, economic, social, and cultural benefits” (Cushing, 1996, p. 125).

16In addition to the increased opportunities to host sport events and the Canadian government’s financial cuts, the 1996 hosting policy emerged from a realization that the federal government needed to work in closer partnerships with other levels of government and other government agencies, as well as with the private sector (including non-profit and commercial organizations). It is important to note that the 1996 hosting policy differs from previous versions of the policy (i.e., 1967, 1978 and 1983), in that the 1996 version required that federal government support be obtained prior to a bid being submitted to an international sport federation. It also contained a new provision stipulating that bid/organizing committees had to follow environmental laws and conduct environmental screenings (if facilities needed to be built for the events). As well, this policy included more detailed criteria about the Government of Canada’s financial obligations with respect to sport events hosting and legacies (Cushing, 1996).

17Consistent with criticism directed toward previous hosting policies, the 1996 and 2000 hosting policies also contained provisions that were not followed or enforced. Specifically, as explained by Blais (2003, p. 8), since 1996 a key component of the hosting policy requirement has in many cases been bypassed, namely, that of obtaining prior federal support for the event bid before submission to an international franchise holder. As well, sometimes the requirement to conduct an economic impact assessment was not implemented due to the cost of conducting such assessments.

18The most important change from the 1996 Hosting Policy to the 2000 policy was an “increase, from 25% to 35%, in the cap on Government of Canada’s contributions to international sport events held in Canada” (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004, p. 10). As noted in the summative evaluation of Sport Canada’s hosting program, not only must supported events “have the potential to accrue net benefits to Canada” but these events must also “be financed within the fiscal capacity of the federal government” (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004, p. 11). Features of the 1996 and 2000 policies included the following: proactive partnerships between bid committees and the federal government; provision of legacies directly related to sport programming in addition to economic, social and cultural legacies within the community; compliance with federal standards; no-deficit guarantees; equitable financing; community support; and sound management.

The 2008 Hosting Policy

19The most recent iteration of the hosting policy draws on two federal reports borne out of the recent federal legislation that replaced the 1961 Fitness and Amateur Sport Act in Canada. Passed in 2003, the Act to Promote Physical Activity and Sport (Parliament of Canada, 2003) was closely linked to both the Canadian Sport Policy (Sport Canada, 2002a) and a strategy document entitled Federal-Provincial-Territorial Priorities for Collaborative Action 2002–2005 (Sport Canada, 2002b) with regard to goals and targets for Canadian sport including targets for hosting international events. The Canadian Sport Policy, in particular, draws attention to the “fragmented approach” that has plagued Canadian hosting efforts (Sport Canada, 2002a, p. 11). According to the CSP, this unplanned approach has put pressure on public and private funding sources and resulted in the reproduction of regional disparities (i.e., where western provinces have received a disproportionate amount of funding for hosting international events in relation to the Atlantic region) (Sport Canada, 2002a).

20The Canadian Sport Policy’s recommendation to develop a strategic hosting framework initially resulted in the Report to the Secretary of State (Physical Activity and Sport) on Hosting International Sport Events in Canada—A proposal for a strategic framework (Blais, 2003). In particular, this report identified a wide range of issues that surround the hosting of international sport events. These issues included the increasing financial pressures on all levels of government (i.e., federal, provincial, and local), concerns over the limited financial, sport programming and facility legacies, the imbalance in the distribution of international events across Canada, the best interests of sport being overlooked by community leaders motivated by gains in tourism and local economies, and inconsistent measures of the economic impact of the events. Blais (2003) addressed how the repeated delays in financial negotiations between the federal and provincial/territorial governments over the size of their contributions to the event have often occurred after the event has been awarded to a community. In turn, these delays have had an impact on the “careful planning and consideration of such issues as legacy—fiscal, sport programming and facility-based” (Blais, 2003, p. 15).

21More importantly, Blais’s (2003) report emphasized that the sport community is rarely central to these governmental decisions, and thus legacy planning falters without the involvement of knowledgeable sport leaders. The report concluded that events have been pursued:

by enthusiastic communities who have recognized the benefits of hosting international sport events and have led the drive to attract these events to their communities mainly for economic as opposed to sport development, social or cultural development reasons... The sport community is not involved, or involved at the level they [sic] should be, in these discussions to ensure the best interests of sport are being considered. (Blais, 2003, p. 14)

22Another issue raised by Blais (2003) included the increasing financial expectations on the part of leaders of international sport federations (IFs) regarding the expenses to be covered by host communities. These expectations often put additional pressures on the host community. As Blais (2003, p. 14) noted, “IFs are requesting that international delegate travel and athlete accommodation be covered [by the host], while retaining the rights for marketing and broadcasting the event.” As a result, host communities are restricted in the strategies they can use to market and fundraise for the event and thus, turn to governments to request more funds.

23Given the complexity of hosting international events and the “shared jurisdiction” of sport in Canada, Blais (2003) provided a strategic hosting framework to assist government leaders and sport stakeholders in making fiscally responsible decisions regarding hosting international sport events. The framework outlined objectives, principles and conditions to support sport events. As well, the framework provided communication and co-ordination mechanisms to ensure collaboration among all levels of government and the sport community. Blais’s (2003) report also provided detailed timelines of major multi-sport events for which Canada should consider bidding over the next 20 to 30 years. In these timelines, the following events are identified: Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, Summer and Winter World University Games, and Summer and Winter Special Olympics World Games. In addition to these multi-sport events, bidding and hosting single sport international events are also encouraged. Blais (2003) also developed 29 recommendations geared toward “fiscally responsible decisions; regional balance to distribute capacity building across the country; a sport development focus with community leadership; and coordination and collaboration among municipalities” (Blais, 2003, p. 4).

24Shortly after the publication of Blais’s (2003) document, a second key report was released entitled Summative Evaluation of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Sport Hosting Program (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004). This report was conducted to “assess the Program’s relevance, effectiveness, adequacy of its design and delivery and its performance measurement practices” (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004, p. 3). Only events between 2000 and 2003 were examined in this review, although a broad sweep of facility and financial legacies associated with eight major events between 1988 and 2003 were also included. One of the key findings of the report challenged the widely held belief that hosting events is equated with positive sport development initiatives. This chapter also examines and challenges this predominantly positive hosting view. The federal report underscores this problematic area of hosting:

the relationship between hosting events and sport development is asserted as self evident... while it is reasonable to expect that hosting an event may contribute to the development of athletes, coaches, etc., for example through the creation of financial and facility legacies, this expectation is, of itself, not sufficient proof of a link. The [hosting] program needs to more clearly demonstrate that this rationale is sound and that supporting sports events leads to sport development. (Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004, p. iii)

25Thus, both reports (Blais, 2003; Prairie Research Associates Inc., 2004) raise crucial points regarding sport legacy issues stemming from hosting of international sport events. As well, they underline the need to ensure that a strategy is in place to maintain a strong voice from the sport community during the bidding and hosting periods. The following statement speaks to the heart of the hosting issues but it does not account for the lengthy list of federal policy initiatives that have preceded it:

Unless a coordinated, collaborative approach by both orders of government along with the sport community is taken, the current unplanned approach will continue and there will be no assurance that the events attracted will be the ones meeting sport development, community development and economic development objectives. Along with that, continued risk of exposure to unplanned government expenditures and the lack of balance across the country will be the inescapable consequences. The proposed Strategic Hosting Framework is intended to bring order to the haphazard approach that has characterized the hosting of international sport events in recent years, through a collaborative process involving all stakeholders interested in bidding for and hosting international sport events. (Blais, 2003, p. 35)

26The 2008 Federal Policy for Hosting International Sport Events emerged from these reports and included the following objectives: a proactive and strategic approach to bidding for and hosting international events, transparent decision making, targeted investment to projects that advance the Strategic Framework and ensure “sound program and fiscal management” in selecting and managing hosting projects (Canadian Heritage, 2008, p. 2). This policy differs from previous versions in that sport plans and bidding and hosting opportunities are to be prioritized over a 10- to 25-year horizon. As a rationale for this approach, the policy makers argued that the 2003 Physical Activity and Sport Act (Parliament of Canada, 2003) and the 2002 Canadian Sport Policy (Sport Canada, 2002a) reinforce “the benefits of hosting international sport events, but noted that Canada’s fragmented approach in determining which events to fund had created pressure on public and private funding sources, and resulted in disparities with respect to the benefits from hosting such events” (Canadian Heritage, 2008, p. 1). In line with Blais’s (2003) recommendations, the 2008 policy calls for federal government support for the hosting of:

  • Two (2) International Major Multisport Games every ten (10) years;
  • One (1) Large International Single Sport Event every two (2) years;
  • Thirty (30) or more Small International Single Sport events each year; and
  • International Multisport Games for Aboriginal Peoples and Persons with a Disability. (p. 3)

27Furthermore, the policy document acknowledges that the number of bids supported for sport events “may vary, as it may be necessary to bid multiple times in order to win the rights to host” these international events (Canadian Heritage, 2008, p. 3). This federal government effort to quantify the number of events demonstrates their willingness to support a planned approach to hosting and to eliminate unplanned investment of resources in events they did not endorse a priori.

28It is evident that historically, many backroom negotiations occurred during the bidding and hosting processes, and the end result has often been that the federal government (and its hosting policies) has been left in a position of reacting to rather than leading the negotiations. The 2008 hosting policy signals a more proactive federal role in the bidding and hosting process of sport events.

29Overall, the federal hosting policies have not been fully implemented due in large part to resilient and “enthusiastic communities” (Blais, 2003, p. 2) that pursue large-scale sport events with wellconnected and powerful coalitions including business leaders, political supporters, and to a lesser extent, sport administrators. The increasing drive by members of bid groups has been interwoven with those of strong and influential political leaders, many of whom actively promoted the event in anticipation of the positive economic returns. In addition, the ability to secure government funding for the event has been predicated on bids conducting economic assessments. Seldom have the assessments been done by arms-length groups, and the assumptions of positive economic return were rarely questioned. This pattern has been evident since the 1960s. The political and economic forces surrounding many sport events, some coalescing with greater strength than others, would suggest that in the face of such powerful interests, amateur sport has often struggled to find a space to meet some of its core objectives related to sport and athlete development.

Federal Government Motivations Across Hosting Policies

30The 1967 hosting policy provided a snapshot of federal government hosting experiences in the 1960s. By the late 1960s a movement was clearly afoot to provide opportunities for Canadian athletes to compete on home soil. Yet another motivation for hosting was to have the event serve as a means to strengthen the amateur sport system and showcase Canadian athletes to the nation. This was intended purpose of the 1967 Centennial celebrations—to host a series of events celebrating national unity through sport—but the events would also serve to provide further opportunity to pursue wider governmental goals such as nation-building, showcasing its strength to the outside world, touting Canada as a place to visit (tourism objectives emerged in the 1967 Report), and supporting business and economic opportunities in local hosting communities. What emerges in the 1967 Report is a striking range of concerns that continue to dominate current hosting discussions, most notably, how local community groups pursue large-scale international sport events despite being ignorant or wary of the federal bureaucratic levels of involvement.

31In a similar vein, all other federal hosting policies sought to include a wide range of objectives that extended beyond amateur sport. For example, in the 1978 hosting policy bidding groups were requested to achieve a range of sport benefits, with the added stipulation that the event must also strive to generate revenue through additional means such as tourism and job creation. The 1996 hosting policy document articulates an even stronger shift in federal government motivations to host sport events, citing the contributions to be made to Canada: “[hosting has] the potential to bring direct and significant benefits across a broad range of government priorities and can act as a catalyst for the achievement of other federal objectives” (Government of Canada, 1996, p. 1). Thus, from the outset this policy acknowledges the role of sport hosting as something unique for a range of government sectors, not just amateur sport (McCloy, 2006, p. 239).

32The federal government’s wish list to gain benefits beyond amateur sport thus began in the 1967 hosting policy but did not end there, and the past three decades of hosting can affirm that amateur sport would struggle to gain benefits amidst other broad governmental goals, which had influential business leaders vying for a space in the bidding competition. Indeed, the 2012 CSP includes a range of hosting outcomes such as “increased civic pride, engagement and cohesion” as well as “increased economic development and prosperity” (Sport Canada, 2012, p. 4). Other motivations include “community-building objectives” (Sport Canada, 2012, p. 21).

Legacies and Sport Canada’s Hosting Policies

33For this chapter sport legacy can be broadly defined as both planned and unintended long- and short-term usage of sport facilities and the development of sport programs and services in the post-event period. Included here are contributions to both grass roots and elite sport. The assumption is that ‘sport legacy’ can only be positive, that is contribute beneficially to the development of communities and to a strong Canadian sport system if it provides for the health and wellbeing of citizens in the mega-event host region and beyond (McCloy, 2006). This next section addresses the role of federal hosting policies in garnering amateur sport legacies across a range of participant groups and addresses serious gaps in achieving such legacies.

34Although the federal hosting policies have incorporated provisions to ensure that sport legacy items were met, they have been only partially successful. As previously noted, specific legacy stipulations whereby bid groups were requested to address these issues in their quest for federal funding only made it into the 1996 hosting policy document. In this respect, the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games had a significant impact on the codification of legacy items as outlined in the multi-party agreements signed between the major funding parties. Of note is that the 1978 hosting policy—in effect when Calgary organizers were bidding for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games—did not stipulate such plans and details for the post-event period. Calgary Olympic event organizers, however, laid the groundwork for conducting long-term amateur sport legacy planning: Calgary’s Olympic Oval (speed skating) serves as one of the more obvious examples. The combination of revenues from the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), combined with strong planning and foresight (beginning in large part with Frank King’s visionary plan) in agreements between many government partners and the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA, now renamed WinSport Canada), ensured that capital and endowment funds were spent on the needs of amateur sport. Other facilities such as the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary and others set up across Canada have further highlighted the positive benefits to be accrued through hosting largescale amateur sport events.

35The sport legacies achieved as a result of the 1999 Winnipeg Pan American Games are a second notable example. Despite difficult negotiations between federal officials and the 1999 Pan Am Games Society (PAGS), a positive outcome was the resultant endowment fund for the Canadian Sport Centre—Manitoba. This endowment fund was a result of federal sport officials insisting that certain key sport legacy elements of the 1996 hosting policy be implemented.

36Although both the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games and 1999 Winnipeg Pan American Games offer some illustrations of positive amateur sport legacies, overall, it appears that throughout Canada’s lengthy history of sport event hosting, Canadian professional sport franchises have received a disproportionate amount of financial support directly linked to these amateur events (via new facilities or substantial upgrades to existing structures) (Whitson, 2004; Whitson & Macintosh, 1996). For example, the Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium, the Calgary Saddledome, the Edmonton Coliseum (now Rexall Place), Shaw Park in Winnipeg, and the Montreal Olympic Stadium are obvious examples of professional sport venues that have received large infusions of federal (and other levels of government) financial support to bolster the sport teams that use them for training. Important upgrades to BC Place and the Pacific Coliseum for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have also benefited Canadian professional sport franchises. Even though some of these sport facilities were built with substantial public funds, community-wide access to these facilities has been lacking. In fact, community participation in such facilities is often associated with spectatorship, rather than individual use.

37With respect to community-level sport legacies, the 1996 and 2000 hosting policies and their subsequent iterations have had some positive impact in this area, and the legacies and benefits from hosting international events for community level sport have improved dramatically in recent years. For example, the Pan Am Pool in Winnipeg (1999 Pan Am Games), Commonwealth Place in Victoria (1994 Commonwealth Games) and a number of facilities at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary (1988 Olympic Winter Games) support this claim. As well, several of the sport facilities used during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were promptly re-configured into community spaces for the public’s use, for example the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

38Other beneficiaries of the legacies from hosting sport events have been university communities, for example, the 1983 Edmonton World University Games (FISU) and the 1978 Commonwealth Games left valuable sport facilities for the University of Alberta, the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games for the University of Calgary, and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games for the University of British Columbia.

39Other important legacies of hosting sport events include infrastructure development (e.g., improvements to public transit, transportation, airports and public meeting spaces). As examples, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games developed and upgraded a number of infrastructures (e.g., light rapid transit to/from the Vancouver International Airport; highway upgrade between Vancouver and Whistler), and non-sport facilities (e.g., Vancouver Convention Centre, community centres).

40It is also important to note other legacies that have occurred in the development of programs and key initiatives in Canada’s sport system. For example, the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games led to the introduction of long-term planning programs within national sport organizations (i.e., Quadrennial Planning Program/Best Ever ’88). As another example, the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games served as a catalyst for the development of Own the Podium, an initiative to target efforts and funding to enhance our performances at these Games (Donnelly, 2010a, 2010b; Government of Canada, n.d., 2010; Priestner Allinger & Allinger, 2004).

41In addition, it is important to highlight the development of legacy strategies ahead of the event, which was the case for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. With funds from governments (federal and provincial) and from corporate sources, 2010 Legacies Now was created in 2000 to ensure important legacies for the community and the province, prior to the Games, during the Games, and after the Games. The non-profit organization identified various social and community-based legacies for Aboriginal initiatives, for the arts, for people with disabilities, for literacy and learning, volunteerism, and sport and healthy living (2010 Legacies Now 2012). The organization is unique in that it was created 10 years prior to the event and ensures that the legacy of the Vancouver Games lasts well beyond the event and benefits as many individuals as possible.

42While legacies are at the forefront for event organizers—largely because of the hosting policy and the guidelines provided by the international sport federations (i.e., International Olympic Committee bid requirements)—it is interesting to note that budget cuts have occurred to sport and recreation programs in the communities where these large-scale events have been held. For example, during the immediate post-1999 Pan Am Games period, the City of Winnipeg witnessed service cuts to recreation programs; such cutbacks are hardly consistent with the position that recreation and community sport will benefit directly from legacy endowments following the Games, as highly touted as these may be (McCloy, 2006). Similar sport and recreation cuts were announced by the Government of British Columbia during and after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (cf. CBC, 2009; Hunter, 2010; O’Neill, 2010). These examples illustrate that legacies are not always congruent with the economic reality of local, provincial and federal governments. The initial optimism in the sport community with respect to the building of new facilities and facility improvements for large-scale sport events can quickly diminish when legacy endowments may not include support for ongoing programs and services for residents.


43This chapter traced the evolution of a series of federal hosting policies from their first formulation in 1967 through to 2008. As discussed in the chapter, international sport events have been held for myriad reasons: some have secured civic improvement projects, while others have provided some benefits, albeit limited, for the long-term development of amateur sport in Canada. The hosting policies were borne out of the federal government’s attempts to exert control over the long list of Canadian bid groups seeking federal financial support for their international event. The following comments and insights address some of the issues that have emerged in hosting sport events in Canada. In particular, attention is drawn to the impact the federal hosting policies have had on the development of Canadian ‘amateur’ sport. While we acknowledge that host communities have experienced immense civic pride, the point of contention here is the extent to which municipal, provincial and federal interests have sidestepped important citizen goals in pursuit of their own political and economic goals and objectives. The increasing pressure for cities to succumb to a global ideology, in which place marketing and city enhancement become the primary goals for success in today’s marketplace, makes it difficult for amateur sport organizations to find a place at the negotiating table.

44The federal hosting policy stipulations have, over the course of policy iterations, extended beyond sport benefits and have required bid groups to demonstrate the social, cultural and economic benefits to be accrued to the community through hosting the international event. Such wide-ranging federal goals and objectives have made it difficult for Sport Canada officials to ensure benefits are sought and achieved for Canadian sport communities. While Canadian hosting experiences have been deemed successful from the standpoint of the actual staging of the two-week event itself, the same cannot be said for the development of coherent and well-thought-out plans for the sport community at both the recreational level and the elite levels. Strategizing for amateur sport became one of the vital reasons for the federal government to pursue the various iterations of its hosting policies. It is hoped that the policy’s most recent iteration (2008) will lead to solid, well-planned and strategic options for sport development in Canada.

45Concerns over the social impact of large-scale sport events have driven the debate over the types of community benefits that should be achieved (Kidd, 1992; Lenskyj, 2000; McCloy, 2003). Thus, for example, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ensured that legacies for the community extended far beyond sport and recreation. In addressing the moments or places in which change has occurred, the final section discusses key ways in which current federal policies and practices can work in tandem with other organizations and associations that have a role in the hosting of international sport events. First, each hosting community group should conduct long-term evaluations and commit sufficient resources to ensure that federal expenditures have met federal hosting policy guidelines, thus ensuring a measure of accountability to the amateur sport system. Such assessments by Sport Canada or independent researchers can provide much-needed information on how legacies are created and managed when, for example, hosting policy guidelines are implemented.

46Second, amateur sport legacies tend to become more evident in the long-term. Assessments of long-term outcomes should be considered and the appropriate baseline data obtained prior to the event being held. Follow-up assessments on the effect of the event on sport participation rates, youth involvement, volunteer legacies, athlete services, and so forth can provide invaluable data for future organizing communities. It is necessary for future bid groups to clearly ascertain the needs of the broader community and, where possible, conduct social impact assessments well in advance of hosting the event, ideally as part of the bid process. Moreover, a broader concern with quality of life issues must be an integral component of early bid efforts, otherwise bid groups will inevitably face opposition. In addition, issues of access, equity and inclusion with respect to communities are important considerations to ensure that everyone is included in each stage of the event.

47Third, one of the primary concerns associated with hosting large-scale events has been the ability of local civic boosters to achieve their objectives, and the subsequent negative impact it has had on amateur sport community goals. Whether it is professional sport franchises benefiting (e.g., with access to new or refurbished facilities) or the skewing of the civic agenda towards tourism and economic development concerns, it is necessary for federal officials to uphold Sport Canada’s hosting policies, which were created in large part to be accountable for public spending. Bid groups need to be aware of the federal policy from the outset and develop concrete legacy plans for their events.

48Finally, amateur sport legacies are beginning to be planned out in a much more coherent manner, as witnessed by the Vancouver 2010 efforts; however all bid communities should be mandated to create Legacy Committees from the outset of bid plans: benefits for both elite and recreational participants must be carefully incorporated at every stage in the development of all facilities and programs. Part of this planning should include the strong, central presence of national sport organizations to ensure that their specific needs and requirements are met from the earliest stages, including solid efforts to support athlete preparation for participation in the event. As Canadian athletes performed strongly on home soil important support was garnered from the Canadian public during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. Such sustained national sport organization and public support for these athletes may ensure a healthier future for all athletes from the grassroots level through to Olympic medallists.



2010 Legacies Now. (2012). 2010 Legacies Now—About us. Retrieved from

Blais, J.P. (2003). Report to the Secretary of State (Physical Activity and Sport) on hosting international sport events in Canada—A proposal for a strategic framework. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Campagnolo, I. (1978). Canada’s hosting policy: Sport event guidelines. Ottawa, ON: Health and Welfare Canada, Fitness and Amateur Sport.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (2009, September 14). Critics slam B.C. government sports cuts. CBC News. Retrieved from

Canadian Heritage. (2008). Federal policy for hosting international sport events. Ottawa, ON: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Retrieved from

Cushing, J. (1996). Planning national sport facilities for high performance athletes. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Alberta, Canada.

Donnelly, P. (2010a). Own the podium or rent it? Canada’s involvement in the global sporting arms race. Policy Options, 31(1), 41–44.

Donnelly, P. (2010b). Rent the podium revisited: Reflections on Vancouver 2010. Policy Options, 31(4), 84–86.

Emery, P.R. (2002). Bidding to host a major sports event: The local organising committee perspective. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 15, 316–335.

Essex, S., & Chalkley, B. (1998). Olympic Games: Catalyst of urban change. Leisure Studies, 17, 187–206.

Government of Canada. (n.d.). Together in 2010: 2010 Legacy initiatives. Ottawa, ON: Canada 2010. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (1988). Toward 2000: Building Canada’s sport system. Report of the task force on national sport policy. Ottawa, ON: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Government of Canada. (1996). Federal policy for hosting international sport events: Policy tenets and assessment guide. Ottawa, ON: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Government of Canada. (2010). Canada’s Games. The Government of Canada and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Catalogue No. CH20-40/2010E-PDF. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Heritage. Retrieved from

Hall, C., & Hodges, J. (1998). The politics of place and identity in the Sydney 2000 Olympics: Sharing the spirit of corporatism. In M. Roche (Ed.), Sport, popular culture and identity (pp. 95–111). Aachen, DE: Meyer and Meyer Verlag.

Harvey, J., Thibault, L., & Rail, G. (1995). Neo-corporatism: The political management system in Canadian amateur sport and fitness. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 19(3), 249–265.

Hiller, H. (2000). Mega-events, urban boosterism and growth strategies: An analysis of the objectives and legitimations of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic bid. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 24, 439–458.

Hunter, J. (2010, March 9). Province draws fire over cuts to sports programs. The Globe and Mail, p. S2.

Kavestos, G., & Szymanski, S. (2010). National well-being and international sports events. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31, 158–171.

Kidd, B. (1992). The Toronto Olympic Commitment: Towards a social contract for the Olympic Games. Olympika, 1, 154–167.

Lenskyj, H. (2000). Inside the Olympic industry. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Macintosh, D. (1996). Sport and government in Canada. In L. Chalip, A. Johnson, & L. Stachura (Eds.), National sports policies. An international handbook (pp. 39–66). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Macintosh, D., Bedecki, T., & Franks, C.E.S. (1987). Sport and politics in Canada. Federal government involvement since 1961. Montreal, QC & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

McCloy, C. (2002). Hosting international sport events in Canada. Planning for facility legacies. In K.B. Wamsley, R.K. Barney, & S.G. Martyn (Eds.), The global nexus engaged: Past, present, future interdisciplinary Olympic studies. Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium for Olympic Research (pp. 135–142). London, ON: International Centre for Olympic Studies.

McCloy, C. (2003, October). Community legacies or liabilities? The 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid. Paper presented at the North American Society of Sport Sociology Conference, Montreal.

McCloy, C. (2006). The role and impact of Canadian federal sport policies in securing amateur sport legacies: Case studies of the past four decades. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto, Canada.

McCloy, C. (2009). Canada hosts the world: An examination of the first federal sport hosting policy (1967). International Journal of the History of Sport, 26, 1155–1170.

O’Neill, E. (2010). B.C. budget cuts since March 2, 2010. Vancouver, BC: BC Teachers’ Federation Information Services.

Parliament of Canada. (2003). Bill C-12. An Act to promote physical activity and sport (S.C. 2003, c. 2). Retrieved from

Prairie Research Associates Inc. (2004). Summative evaluation of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s sport hosting program. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Heritage.

Priestner Allinger, C., & Allinger, T. (2004). Own the Podium—2010: Final report with recommendations of the independent task force for winter NSOs and funding partners. Retrieved from

Regan, G. (1981). A challenge to the nation: Fitness and amateur sport in the 80s. Ottawa, ON: Minister of State, Fitness and Amateur Sport.

Roche, M. (2000). Mega-events and modernity: Olympics and Expos in the growth of global culture. London: Routledge.

Scrimger, T. (2005, November 11). Sport Canada’s Hosting Program. Presentation made to the Sport Leadership Sportif Conference held in Quebec City.

Sport Canada. (2002a). The Canadian sport policy. Ottawa, ON: Department of Canadian Heritage. Retrieved from

Sport Canada. (2002b). The Canadian sport policy: Federal-provincial/territorial priorities for collaborative action 2002–2005. Ottawa, ON: Department of Canadian Heritage. Retrieved from

Sport Canada. (2012). Canadian sport policy 2012. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Heritage. Retrieved from

Whitson, D. (2004). Bringing the world to Canada: ‘The periphery of the centre.’ Third World Quarterly, 25, 1215–1232.

Whitson, D., & Macintosh, D. (1996). The global circus: International sport, tourism, and the marketing of cities. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 20(3), 278–295.


Research Officer and Faculty Liaison at the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation focused on federal sport event hosting policies with an emphasis on amateur sport legacies for a range of stakeholder groups. Cora has published this work in historical journals and in national and international conference proceedings. Her interest in exploring hosting benefits for the amateur sport system stem in large part from her own experiences as an elite athlete and as a coach to a wide range of participants from community-level recreation programs to varsity sport

Professor at Brock University. Her areas of expertise include sport policy, globalization of sport, and organizational theory as it applies to sport and leisure organizations. She also investigates the Canadian government’s role in sport and athlete involvement in the governance of sport. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and has appeared in such publications as: Journal of Sport Management, European Sport Management Quarterly, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, and Leisure Studies. Lucie has also published numerous book chapters


Volume papier
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search