The British Government has pledged £27 million (€33 million) of National Lottery funding to a programme aimed at attracting up to 70 world class sporting events over the coming years.
The Gold Event Series includes 36 World and European Championships in a wide variety of Olympic sports. The drive is backed by a desire for 2.5 million spectators to witness the events, mainly at venues already constructed for London 2012 or the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014; and for them to spend an estimated £287 million (€360 million) as a result.
The Irish Government did have some success in securing advantage from the close hosting of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The structures put in place for that should now be maintained and developed so that Ireland can generate a sporting and business ‘halo’ effect from the commitment being made across the water.
Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: “In developing the Gold Event Series, UK Sport is building on the success of London 2012 and supporting the UK’s on-going legacy goals. The continued hosting of world class events supports our athletes’ performance ambitions, provides a unique platform to inspire participation, and allows sport to contribute towards the economic growth agenda.”
The performance prospects of Britain’s athletes will be boosted by specifically targeting a number of major Olympic and Paralympic qualification events to host on home soil in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
UK Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson said: “One of the most important sports legacies of London 2012 is our ability to attract major events in the future – which boost the economy, increase tourism and encourage participation. We already have a fantastic eight years of great sport events planned and I want to attract more events in the years ahead.”
In preparation for London 2012, UK Sport helped stage 118 major sporting events in the UK, a programme recognised by the IOC as ‘an example for other host nations to follow’. Now, with increased investment from the National Lottery, the Gold Event Series will focus on attracting bigger, more targeted, events.
A highly successful bidding campaign began almost two years ago, and 10 World and European Championships have been already secured for the UK in Athletics, Gymnastics, Triathlon, Hockey, Rugby League, Squash, Disability Swimming, Canoe Slalom and Eventing.
The comprehensive support package is made up of 14 key areas to assist national governing bodies to ensure they can attract and stage the world’s most prestigious sporting events. These services will support both the bidding process (including assistance towards feasibility studies, business planning, political endorsement and technical bidding advice) and the delivery (including staging advice, equipment support, event research and knowledge transfer) of major events, with the highest levels of support prioritised towards the most strategically important events.
The first event of the Gold Event Series takes place this weekend as the UCI Track Cycling World Cup comes to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow (16-18 November). This will be the first major international event to take place in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games venue.