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Sport mega events in emerging economies the south american games of santiago 2014

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Series Editor: Eva Kassens-Noor

The South American Games of
Santiago 2014

Gonzalo A. Bravo,
David J. Shonk,
Jorge Silva-Bórquez and
Silvana González-Mesina


Mega Event Planning
Series Editor
Eva Kassens-Noor
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI, USA

The Mega Event Planning Pivot series will provide a global and cross-­
disciplinary view into the planning for the world’s largest sporting, religious, cultural, and other transformative mega events. Examples include
the Olympic Games, Soccer World Cups, Rugby championships, the
Commonwealth Games, the Hajj, the World Youth Day, World Expositions,
and parades. This series will critically discuss, analyze, and challenge the
planning for these events in light of their legacies including the built environment, political structures, socio-economic systems, societal values, personal attitudes, and cultures.
More information about this series at


Gonzalo A. Bravo • David J. Shonk
Jorge Silva-­Bórquez
Silvana González-Mesina

Sport Mega-Events in
Emerging Economies
The South American Games of Santiago 2014

Gonzalo A. Bravo
Exercise and Sport Sciences
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV, USA

David J. Shonk
Sport & Recreation Management
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA, USA

Jorge Silva-Bórquez
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Santiago, Chile

Silvana González-Mesina
Freelance Journalist
Santiago, Chile

Mega Event Planning
ISBN 978-1-137-56887-8    ISBN 978-1-137-56888-5 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018938798
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We would like to thank everyone who made this project possible, particularly those who assisted by providing invaluable information that was critical to advancing this monograph. Our sincere thanks to personnel from
the National Institute of Sport, the Ministry of Sport, and the Corporación
Santiago 2014. Specifically, thanks to Patricio Sepúlveda Novoa, Marcelo
Ubal Rodriguez, Ximena Restrepo Gaviria, Marcos Antonio Colina
Barahona, and Carlos Marchat Laplagne. Similarly, we would like to thank
Eva Kassens-Noor, editor of the Mega Event Planning Pivot series at
Palgrave for trusting our idea and encouraging us to pursue this monograph. Also thanks to Joshua Pitt, Senior Commissioner Editor at Palgrave
Macmillan, for his patience in accepting our numerous requests for extensions. Because some sections of this project required us to work in two
languages, the editing process turned out to be extensive, lengthy, and at
times monumental. It required from us not only substantial editorial work,
but also a good dose of idiomatic judgment. Our sincere thanks to
Gretchen Peterec, Paulina Bravo, and Steven Pope for reading and providing numerous comments for the original as well as translated versions of
the manuscript. Any mistake that may have occurred as part of this process
is solely our responsibility.



1Introduction   1
2Conceptualizing Sport Mega-Events  11
3Emerging Economies and Sport Mega-Events  25
4The Context of the South American Games  51
5Bidding, Planning, and Organizing  67
6Santiago 2014: Stakeholders’ Appraisement 103
7Lessons and Challenges Facing Sport Mega-­Events
in Emerging Economies: The Case of Santiago 2014 123
Index 139



COSAN 2014

Paralympic Committee of the Americas
Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa
Andean Community of Nations
Ibero-American Sport Council
Chilean Olympic Committee
South American Football Confederation
Corporación Santiago 2014
General Directorate Sport and Recreation
Dow Jones Index
International Federation of Association Football
Financial Times Stock Exchange International
Government Accountability Office
Intergovernmental organizations
National Institute of Sport
International Non-Governmental Organizations
International Olympic Committee
International Paralympic Committee
Local Organizing Committee
Common Market of the South
Morgan Stanley Capital International Index
National Governing Body
National Olympic Committee
Bolivarian Sports Organization
South American Sports Organization




Organization for Economic Co-operation
Olympic Games Knowledge Management
Standard & Poor’s Index
National Disability Service
Sport Mega-Event(s)
National Television of Chile
Union of South American Nations
United Nations Development Programme


1. Note: Some of these acronyms are in their original language of Spanish or

Authors Biographical Sketch

Gonzalo  A.  Bravo  is an Associate Professor in the Sport Management

Program at West Virginia University. He completed a  Masters in Sport
Administration at Penn State University and a PhD in Sport & Exercise
Management at Ohio State University. He is the co-editor of International
Sport Management (2012) and Sport in Latin America. Policy, organization, management (2016).
David  J.  Shonk is an Associate Professor in Sport & Recreation
Management at James Madison University. He completed his undergraduate degree in Business Management at Virginia Tech and holds a PhD in
Sport & Exercise Management from Ohio State University. He is the co-­
author of Managing Sport Events (2013).
Jorge Silva Bórquez  is the Sport Director at the Pontificia Universidad
Católica de Chile. Previously he worked at the National Institute of Sport
and Club Deportivo Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. He holds an
MBA from IEDE Business School in Santiago and a Master’s degree in
Sport Management from Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la
Silvana  González  Mesina  is a freelance journalist specialized in sport
and corporate communications. Her work has been published in major
newspapers and sport publications in Chile. She completed a Bachelor’s
degree in Communication and Journalism from Universidad de Chile and
a specialization in Sport Journalism from Universidad La República.


List of Figures

Fig. 4.1
Fig. 5.1
Fig. 5.2
Fig. 5.3
Fig. 5.4

Image 5.1
Image 5.2
Fig. 5.5
Fig. 5.6
Fig. 6.1

Percent of medals won by region—Pan American Games
1999–2015. Source: ‘Acta XXV’ (2012) and Toronto 2015
COSAN organizational structure. Source: Based on COSAN
(2012, 2014a)
COSAN strategic alliances. Source: COSAN (2014a)
Total estimated costs (US$ millions)—Santiago 2014.
Source: COSAN (2014a), DIPRES (2017), SII (2017)
Weekly use (percentage) of sport venues at Peñalolen Sport
Park in 2017. Note: Based on 60 hours of weekly use.
Source: Parque Peñalolén IND (2017)
Triathlon competition in Viña del Mar. Reproduced with
permission of Agencia Uno and Instituto Nacional de
Track and Field at the National Stadium in Santiago.
Reproduced with permission of Agencia Uno and Instituto
Nacional de Deportes
Total medals by country—Santiago 2014. Note: Venezuela
reached the third place because it won more gold medals

than Argentina. Source: Based on COSAN (2014a)
Medals (percent by gender) obtained by Chilean Athletes—
Santiago 2014. Note: total number of medals obtained by
Chilean athletes = 129. Source: Pereira (2014)
Trend of media articles (March 6–19) 2014 South American
Games. Source: Fundación Imagen de Chile, 2014 (p. 1).
Reproduced with permission of Fundación Imagen de Chile 106


List of Tables

Table 3.1
Table 3.2
Table 5.1
Table 6.1

List of emerging economies ranked by different institutions in
First-, second-, and third-order SMEs hosted in emerging
economies, 1987–2017
Total investment in new venues, remodeling, and additional
works—Santiago 2014
Attendance in 21 sport modalities—Santiago 2014




Abstract  Chile and the 2014 South American Games in Santiago provide
an interesting platform for exploring the case of a sport mega-event (SME)
in an emerging economy. The chapter provides an introduction to the
South American Games, describes the organization of the project, and
explains the methodological approach used in this case study. Although
the vast majority of scholarly work on SMEs has focused on large and
global scale events, this case focused on a small regional event that took
place in a country with little history in organizing mega-events. This chapter introduces the importance of studying lower scale SMEs and highlights the need to explore the uniqueness of these types of events. These
events are frequently hosted in countries outside of the global north that
show dissimilar economic, cultural, and institutional realities.
Keywords South American Games • Emerging economy • Sport
In 2009, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced
that the 2016 summer Olympic Games were to be organized in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, the sporting world received the news with excitement and
at the same time were concerned about security, health issues, and being
overextended from hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup (Macur, 2009;
© The Author(s) 2018
G. A. Bravo et al., Sport Mega-Events in Emerging Economies, Mega
Event Planning, https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-56888-5_1




McBride, 2016). Although sport mega-events (SMEs) like the summer
Olympics traditionally take place in developed countries, over the past
decade the IOC has started to award these events to countries outside of
the Global North. The rationale for moving these events outside of the
traditional rim of developed nations is not only to advocate for participatory, democratic, and inclusive ideas, but also for very practical reasons.
The awarding of the Olympic Games to emerging economies located in
the Global South has occurred because over the last two decades many of
the so-called developing nations have significantly changed their economic
and political status (Grix, 2013; Nayyar, 2016). Countries not considered
to be traditional bidders for the Olympic Games are now considering a bid
due to the enhanced status given to host cities, as was the case of the city
of Budapest who in 2015 announced intentions to bid for the 2024
Olympic Summer Games (Associated Press, 2015). Grix (2013) notes that
SMEs like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are increasingly going
to new lands, such that there is a shift from developed democratic states to
emerging democratic and non-democratic states. Between the 2008
Beijing Olympic Games and the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup, at least
eight major sport events will have taken place in ‘emerging states’ (p. 16).
In contrast, politicians from cities and nations considered more regular
bidders have begun to question the benefits of SMEs, and enthusiasm for
hosting has waned due to the large costs involved. That was the case in
2016 when Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi opposed the city’s bid for the
2024 Summer Olympics citing their lack of sustainability and large costs
and debt (New York Times, 2016).

Despite the interest emerging economies have shown in recent decades
to bid and host first-order SMEs, a select group of developed countries
continue to host them because of their high costs. As a result, many countries today bid and host SMEs but focus more on a regional appeal as
opposed to those events that cater to global audiences (Black, 2014).
Sport mega-events hosted in emerging economies, particularly secondand third-order events, occur much more frequently than reported. These
are the type of events that while retaining a number of the defining features of first-order events (Grix, 2013) are still small in terms of number
of participants, and their level of media reach is limited to specific geographical areas where these games are organized (Black, 2008; Cornelissen,
2004). Such is the case of the South American Games, which, while being
in existence for almost four decades, have grown from being a small



­ ultisport festival involving a few hundred athletes to a complex venture
that closely resembles the characteristics of a first-order SME.
Because of the importance SMEs receive in the scholarly literature, and
the ubiquitous impact these events have on the countries that host them,
it is critical that scholars pay attention to and examine the dynamics of
SMEs in emerging economies and particular events of second- and third-­
order category. Although the interest of studying SMEs in emerging economies has grown significantly since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the vast
majority of these studies has focused on first-order events hosted in BRICS
countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Considering that not all emerging economies are alike, nor all SMEs similar, scholars who examine business strategy in less-developed countries
remind us that ‘emerging market economies are not homogeneous, even
within the same geographic region. Latin America, East Asia, Africa/Middle
East, and Central and Eastern Europe, taken as four groups, have manifestly different starting points, but even within these regions, countries
differ markedly’ (Hoskisson, Eden, Lau, & Wright, 2000, p.  259).

Therefore, it is important for scholars to focus on these differences and to
be aware of the uniqueness and peculiarities second- and third-order
SMEs may offer, particularly when hosted outside of the BRICS
Chile and the South American Games of Santiago 2014 offer an interesting case to examine and explore the defining attributes that characterize
an event of sizeable magnitude in a country with little history of hosting
SMEs. This case aims to shed light and expand our understanding of not
only the way a third-order SME like the South American Games occur but
also under what circumstances they occur. It also contributes to advance
our knowledge as to what extent previous findings and conceptualizations
made on impact, legacies, justifications, challenges, and problems, identified in first-order SMEs hosted in developed nations, inform similar outcomes when compared to second- or third-order SMEs organized in
emerging economies. Similarly, case studies like the South American
Games might also help to provide a better understanding if some of the
challenges faced by first-order SMEs on BRICS economies translate or
equate to other second- and third-order SMEs in smaller emerging economies. One of the key issues here is that future studies of SMEs in emerging
economies must move away from the notion that ‘one-size fits all’. SMEs
are extremely complex enterprises that require scrutiny and judicious analysis of their findings prior to treating the findings as rules that will



­ navoidably replicate other SMEs of different sizes that take place in disu
similar economic, cultural, and institutional realities.
This monograph is intended to help the reader understand the challenges that event organizers from emerging economies face when hosting
or aspiring to host large sporting events. While the specific literature on
SMEs is vast and rich, little has been written about the idiosyncratic nature
of hosting large international multisport sport events in emerging economies, particularly those outside the BRICS countries. Academic efforts to
understand how smaller emerging economies face the challenges of organizing second- and third-order SMEs have been scarce at best. This monograph focuses on describing how less visible yet large sport events like the

South American Games are planned and take place in an emerging economy like Chile.
In this monograph, we examined the case of Chile and explored some
plausible reasons for Chile’s transformation from being a country that
historically rescinded SMEs to becoming an aspiring host for these events.
Specifically, we examined the historical context and macro-environmental
factors that may have contributed to explaining the adoption of SMEs by
Chilean authorities and ‘booster coalitions’ (Black, 2008, p. 470). We also
examined the extent impacts, legacies, and different forms of organizational dynamics, all elements discussed in the broad literature of SMEs,
resemble those observed in the South American Games of Santiago 2014.
Finally, we identify the perceived critical outcomes the South American
Games of Santiago 2014 had on different stakeholders within Chilean

Methodological Approach
A primary goal of this project was to extend the literature on SMEs, particularly on third-order events in the context of the ‘new frontier economies’, which are the second tier of emerging economies that are not part
of the BRICS countries (Cavusgil, Ghauri, & Akcal, 2012). Considering
that third-order SMEs in emerging economies have been minimally
explored within the literature, we followed an exploratory approach. In
exploring the 2014 Santiago Games we used qualitative methods, thus
allowing us to focus specifically on this one case or this specific event. A
qualitative approach allows us to take an inductive or bottom-up approach
to better understand the South American Games. Qualitative methods
also give voice to those involved in the case. In this work, we have extracted



points of views, statements, and testimonies from various officials within

the government, local organizing committee, athletes, and other stakeholders that help to explain their thought processes before, during, and
after the games. It also helps us to compare and contrast how various
stakeholders viewed the 2014 Santiago Games. As noted by Sofaer (1999),
qualitative methods help to explain how multiple stakeholders may interpret an event.
This project evolved over the course of three years, which happened in
four phases that overlapped significantly over time. The first phase involved
observation and data collection. During this time, two of the four authors
were actively involved in different capacities of the organization of the
South American Games. The second phase involved the collection, classification, and organization of the material that was directly related to the
games. Most of these materials were collected in the form of secondary
data including internal documents from the organizing committee, official
reports, acts from meetings, and relevant information taken from newspapers articles and/or internet sites. In addition, interviews with personnel
involved in the organization of the games were also conducted during this
phase. The third phase involved the analysis and classification of data collected and organized in the first and second phases. In addition, more
interviews were conducted with personnel who were directly involved
with the organization of the 2014 Santiago Games. However, these interviews occurred approximately one year after the games had ended. Finally,
the fourth phase included a comprehensive literature review. The literature review focused on the distinguishing elements of SMEs, emerging
economies, and the contextual factors unique to both Chile and South
America that were identified as critical to providing plausible answers to
the questions addressed in this project. During this time, various parts of
the project were translated from Spanish to English.
Individuals who participated in this project had diverse backgrounds.
Two of the four authors had no ties to the games, but experience and
knowledge of SMEs. The other two authors had direct ties with the games
as they worked for the National Institute of Sport during the time of the
games. We believe this eclectic and diverse group provided a ‘balanced’
association of scholars and practitioners. In addition, the diversity of our
group greatly benefited our analysis and served to leverage any possible
biases in our writing and interpretation of this case.



Organization of the Monograph
The monograph is divided into seven chapters. This first chapter provided
an introduction to the South American Games and highlighted the importance of examining smaller scale SMEs in emerging economies. Chapter 2
helps the reader to conceptualize SMEs. While there is no consensus
among scholars on what constitutes an SME, most definitions seek to
highlight the importance of impact and legacy and assume the context of
large, first-order events like the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.
However, little has been done to examine the internal dynamics (i.e., the
degree of complexity in which they operate) of SMEs, particularly those
events of second or third order. Many definitions highlight the presumed
economic benefits of SMEs, whereas others focus on intangible benefits
like nation branding and soft power or they question the real turn out for
cities in terms of long-term economic impact. Most scholars agree that
boosters and those who have a stake in SMEs overemphasize the gains and
minimize the risks. We have drawn from Cornelissen (2004) and Black
(2008) when using the terms first-, second-, and third-order events to
categorize SMEs. We also discuss the role of context and argue that it is a
critical element when examining SMEs, not only in second- or third-order
events but also when these events are hosted in emerging economies.
Chapter 3 examines the distinguishing features of emerging economies
and the different terms scholars have used to describe less-developed
nations. Despite the efforts of international agencies like the International
Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme,
and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to
create classifications of countries, there still is a lack of agreement on what

separates developed- from less-developed nations. The same lack of agreement exists on how to refer to less-developed nations. Despite most of the
academic literature on SMEs focusing on events held in developed countries, over the last decade a significant number of studies have begun to
explore first-order SMEs in emerging nations, the vast majority of these in
BRICS countries. Here we argue that for comparative purposes some of
these findings may not be generalizable outside of this context. Scholars
need to expand the scope of studies on SMEs and go beyond first-order
events by focusing on second- and third-order events in emerging economies. Examples of these types of events include the South American
Games, Bolivarian Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, and
the South Asian Games to name just a few. Considering the paucity of



studies on these types of events, there is a need for more case studies and
empirical research as well as new theoretical approaches to the study of
SMEs. Because leaders in emerging economies are increasingly interested
in hosting SMEs, these nations often mimic the practices of more developed nations to gain visibility and legitimacy. As a result, hosting SMEs
becomes an effective strategy to promote nation branding and use soft
power as a mechanism to erase existing stereotypes about the host nation.
Finally, this chapter provides a brief overview of Chile’s path to development, outlining the country’s successes and failures in terms of economy
and social development and also highlighting some of the country’s main
challenges to improve its sport system. We highlight Chile’s trajectory as
the country morphed into an established emerging economy with sustained economic growth. These factors provide the context for Chile’s
current condition as a country with serious ambitions of hosting SMEs.
In Chap. 4, we discuss the origins of the South American Games. We
suggest that the origins of the games can be explained by the need to
strengthen South American identity. We examine the background and
context in which the South American Games were born. It also highlights

how the South American Games evolved from early editions in the mid-­
1970s until today when the games have turned into a third-order SME. We
identify inter-governmental organizations and trade blocs that were created in South America with the goal of strengthening relationships
between nations and advancing the broader political, cultural, and economic sphere of the countries in the region. While the South American
Games have been in existence for almost four decades, its growth is just a
recent phenomenon.
Chapter 5 describes several milestone events within the organization of
the South American Games. It first provides a historical account of the
Chilean government’s failed attempts to bid and host SMEs. We also provide some plausible explanations as to why Chile changed its approach to
bidding on these events in recent years. The South American Games
hosted in 2014 and Copa America hosted in 2015 represent the largest
sporting events the country has organized since 1962 when it hosted the
FIFA World Cup. Thus, the South American Games have served as the
ignitor for bringing more and larger events to Chile. The fact that in
November of 2017 Chile was awarded the 2023 Pan American Games
shows how the South American Games played a role in the current arms
race for new SMEs in Chile. The chapter describes the role of the local
organizing committee, and we argue that the complexity of organizing the



South American Games justifies it being categorized as a SME. We discuss
different aspects in the organizational complexity and the need for the
transfer of knowledge, strategic alliances, and the development of a communications plan. We point out the resemblance between communications strategies used in the South American Games with those followed in
larger SMEs. This chapter also discusses the inclusion of the Para Olympic
program as a part of the whole concept of the South American Games.
Finally, Chap. 5 describes the infrastructure that was built for the South

American Games which undoubtedly provided the most visible legacy
these games left for Chile.
Chapter 6 discusses stakeholder reactions to the South American
Games, including media, the public, athletes, and sport leaders. This chapter also includes a few excerpts from interviews conducted with government officials. We also discuss the financial and legal setback to the local
organizing committee that was unveiled more than a year after the games
had ended, how this incident threatened the reputation of government
officials, and how this problem threatened the credibility of those who
govern sport organizations in Chile.
Finally, Chap. 7 provides a discussion of the major findings. Here we
attempt to answer the three main questions we examined in this project:
What were the contextual macro-environmental factors that may have
contributed to explaining the adoption of SMEs by Chilean authorities
and booster coalitions? To what extent did impacts, legacies, and forms of
organizational dynamics that were observed in the 2014 Santiago Games
resemble those commonly described in the literature of first-order events?
And, what were the most critical outcomes the South American Games
had for Chile? Finally, and drawing from the business literature in emerging economies (Marquis & Raynard, 2015; Rottig, 2016), we contend
that the use of institutional theory seems a plausible theoretical framework
for future studies aiming to understand the dynamics that follow secondand third-order events in mimicking first-order SMEs.

Associated Press. (2015, July 8). Budapest announces intention to bid for 2024
Olympics. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/



Black, D. (2008). Dreaming big: The pursuit of ‘second order’ games as a strategic
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Black, D. (2014). Megas for strivers: The politics of second-order events. In
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Cavusgil, S. T., Ghauri, P. N., & Akcal, A. A. (2012). Doing business in emerging
markets. London: Sage.
Cornelissen, S. (2004). Sport mega-events in Africa: Processes, impacts and prospects. Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 1(1), 39–55.
Grix, J. (2013). Sport politics and the Olympics. Political Studies Review, 11(1),
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Macur, J. (2009, October 2). Rio wins 2016 Olympics in a first for South America.
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Conceptualizing Sport Mega-Events

Abstract  This chapter provides a broad conceptualization of sport mega-­
events (SMEs), including various definitions, characteristics, and classifications. The impacts and legacies of SMEs are explored, thus referring to the
short-term consequences and more long-lasting factors such as economic
growth and well-being of the population. Structural dimensions, size, and
categories such as first-, second-, and third-order SMEs are also examined.
We argue that no two types of SMEs of the same order are alike, neither
are two emerging economies. Therefore, it is imperative to put attention
to contextual differences when examining SMEs to help determine how
these differences might affect the outcomes and processes of these events.
Keywords Impacts • Legacies • Context • Structural dimensions •
First-order • Second-order • Third-order SMEs
Why do governments around the world show interest in hosting SMEs?
Although a single answer would be insufficient to capture the motives and
aspirations of sport leaders and government officials, it is possible to provide a general explanation as to why these events occur and attract the
attention of those in power. Horne (2007) notes that hosting such events
is typically rationalized based on factors related to the sport, as well as
economic and social benefits that accrue to the host nation. For Poynter
© The Author(s) 2018
G. A. Bravo et al., Sport Mega-Events in Emerging Economies, Mega
Event Planning, https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-56888-5_2




and Viehoff (2016), SMEs have been closely associated with the ‘transformation from the modern to the post-modern’ (p. 1), whereby cities seek
to re-invent their urban, economic, and cultural landscape to compete for
securing economic advantages. Horne and Manzenreiter (2006) point to
three primary factors which have led to the expansion and growing attraction of SMEs. The first factor being new developments in technologies
and mass communication, specifically satellite television, which have created global audiences. Second, sport-media business alliances have
expanded these events, whereby sponsorship rights, broadcasting rights,
and merchandising have turned many events into lucrative alliances worth
millions of dollars. The final factor has perhaps been researched the most
and it concerns how mega-events are seen as valuable promotional opportunities for cities and regions.
Malfas, Houlihan, and Theodoraki (2004) suggest the most recurrent
argument given to justify the existence of SMEs is the potential economic
impact or the ‘prospect of economic growth’ (p. 9) an event has over a
city, region, or country. Notwithstanding, these authors also warn that
some studies do not precisely support this claim (Mitchell & Stewart,
2015; Müller, 2015a; Zimbalist, 2016). In the discussion of the benefits
and losses of hosting SMEs, Poynter and Viehoff (2016) provide two
opposing views. The first view suggests that urban regeneration, economic
growth, and positive legacies are not only the main outcomes of SMEs,
but also serve as the justification of why cities should pursue these ventures. In contrast, the second view claims that SMEs have served as a site
for demonstration of popular discontent not only with the event itself, but
also with the prevailing political order. Despite these contrasting views,
the competition to host sport events (particularly large events) has
increased globally. This growth has not been confined only to the so-­
called developed world, but instead has also gained significant ground in
emerging nations of the ‘Global South’. Before we delve into the more
specific features, outcomes, and even some of the controversies SMEs generate, let’s first explore some of the definitions proposed by scholars that
might help us advance our understanding of what these events are and
mean. Also, let’s review some of the arguments (pro and against) and findings of the impacts, legacies, and challenges these events have upon communities, cities, and nations across the globe that attracts so much attention

from scholars.



Defining SMEs
While mega-events have gained considerable attention in recent years,
Jago, Dwyer, Lipman, van Lill, and Vorster (2010) note their long history
dating back to tribal conclaves and religious festivities with 776 BC identified as a milestone for the first Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. Today,
examples of mega-events can be found in major fairs, festivals, expositions,
and cultural events, and sporting contests that are held on a regular or
one-off basis,  and provide an opportunity for international commerce,
competition, cooperation and/or celebration (Chalkley & Essex, 1999).
In fieldwork done with numerous interviewees at SMEs, Chalip (2006)
describes the incredible amount of emotion felt by respondents, thus suggesting a sense that something more important is happening which transcends sport. SMEs have been characterized as ‘global occasions of
enormous economic, political, and social importance’ (Giulianotti &
Klauser, 2010, p. 50). Roche (2000) defines mega-events as ‘large-scale
cultural events which have a dramatic character, mass popular appeal and
international significance that are typically organised by variable combinations of national governmental and international non-governmental
organisations’ (p.  1). The two primary features of mega-events are the
significant consequences for the host region along with their considerable
media coverage (Horne, 2007). These events are ‘mega’ in the sense they
are ‘discontinuous’, unordinary, international, and simply big in composition (Roberts, 2004).
Gaffney (2010) suggests the end goal for these events is economic
rationality and social control, and they ‘encompass multiple layers of governance, massive urban change, staggering sums of public and private
money, and function as historically situated festivals that appeal to a global
audience’ (pp.  8–9). Horne and Manzenreiter (2006) claim that SMEs
have been viewed economically as an industry around which cities can

devise urban regeneration strategies and socially as a tool for the development of urban communities and the reduction of social exclusion and
crime. While these alleged benefits are widely accepted by many and rarely
questioned, Coakley and Souza (2013) pointed out that there still is a lack
of empirical research to support many of these claims. Horne and
Manzenreiter added, ‘often research has been conducted in advance of
sports mega-events on behalf of interested parties’ (2006, p. 11).
While many of the above definitions of SMEs seem to exalt the more
spectacular role of mega-events, Malfas et  al. (2004) noted that to



­ ifferentiate what makes a mega-event unique from other events, one
must understand the internal and external characteristics of these events.
External attributes may include factors such as economic impact and legacy of the event. There have been numerous scholars who have examined
external attributes (Chappelet & Junod, 2006; Coakley & Souza, 2013;
Ferrari & Guala, 2017; Lee & Taylor, 2005) of mega-events. However,
much less attention was focused on internal attributes such as organizational behavior and how organizations work together in planning the
event and even less attention has been given to understand the levels of
organizational complexity that organizing an event demands.
Despite the number of definitions given to describe SMEs and the lack
of agreement as to what exactly constitutes a SME, most definitions identify the notion of size and scale, media attention, cultural significance,
economic development for host communities, and international significance and global appeal.

Impacts and Legacies
In the burgeoning literature on SMEs, impacts are linked to the short-­
term economic consequences of an event; whereas legacies refer to more

lasting impacts that involve not only economic growth through tourism
(e.g., job creation or new sport infrastructure), but also other less visible
and intangible alleged benefits. These are often benefits for the population
such as the development of human capital skills (e.g., volunteering) or
enhancing a sense of well-being and proudness through the so-called feel
good factor of the population (Holt & Ruta, 2015).
The impact of an SME is usually referred to in economic terms (Holt
& Ruta, 2015). The costs and benefits of hosting SMEs are significant
concerns for governments, policymakers, businesses, and communities
(Beesley & Chalip, 2011). The primary economic benefit for a region
normally derives from consumption by visitors at hotels, restaurants, and
other local businesses during the event and then increased tourism after
the event (Preuss, 2007). In a study by Fourie and Santana-Gallego
(2011), results found that mega-events promote tourism, but gains are
dependent upon factors such as the type of mega-event, the participating
countries, the host country’s level of development, and whether the event
is held during the peak or off-season. In a study of the 2000 Summer
Olympic Games in Sydney, Madden (2006) found there can be a modest
economic impact for the state hosting the Games provided there is not too