Think Tank 2: Grad Student Symposium

Click here for the Graduate Student Symposium Program in PDF format


Graduate students from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and the University of Western Ontario kicked-off the Think Tank on Sport Mega-Event Impacts, Leveraging, and Legacies by hosting a student-led Symposium. Students presented research work related to the think tank topics through presentations, panels, and discussions.The Symposium tied in with a blog-based graduate student forum to develop ideas and concepts over the weeks leading into the Think Tank. The blog is available here and any contributions are welcome:

Time: 1 pm-7 pm, Thursday, November 10.

Location: Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) Policy Lab (Room 1141A and B)


1.00 pm – Welcome by Dr. Robert VanWynsberghe & Caitlin Pentifallo

1.15 pm – The Art of Losing

Katarina Bobanovic, MA Student – School of Kinesiology – Sport Management, University of Western Ontario

Mega-Event bids have been both criticized and supported for the many benefits or problems related to the risks involved in bidding. Hosting a mega-event often has high costs and few tangible outcomes, making it difficult to understand economic development through the bidding process. What seems to go unnoticed is how the losing bids have shown evidence of being positive legacies within themselves. Bidding has become a vehicle to stimulate interest for investment and kick start development in a city/country. The Olympic effect for progress in a country is not associated with hosting the games, but rather with bidding for them. The decision to bid often requires a financial shift – in many cases, using community funds for mega-event bids. It is important to thus analyze the media framework, the public influence of beliefs and understanding related to what is actually occurring. Benefits may exist if a city is in the race to host an event, but if lost, does the city and community understand the positive outcome? A Case study will be done on the Hamilton 2010 Commonwealth games bid, the media framework, and the outcomes of the lost bid.

1.45 pm – Red tape diaries: A roundtable discussion on the barriers of mega-event research

Shawna Lawson, MA Student – School of Kinesiology, UBC

During this open dialogue, my hope is to provide a platform through which both students and professors can share their experiences conducting mega-event research. The bureaucratic guarding of these events pose unique challenges to researchers, and this discussion will facilitate reflection and collaboration in an open forum. We will discuss the multidimensionality of mega-event red tape and the impact of such barriers on conducting critical research. The forum will move beyond simply narrating the challenges of mega-event studies in an effort to provide a practical framework for navigating these systematic barriers. The Sport Mega-Event Impacts, Leveraging, and Legacies Student Symposium offers a unique platform for students and experts to reflect on the challenges of conducting mega-event research and collaborate on strategies for future work.

2.15 pm – Leveraging 2nd Tier Status: London’s bid for 2013 World Skating Championships

Richelle Clark, MA Student – School of Kinesiology – Sport Management, University of Western Ontario

It is common practice for cities to acknowledge and draw upon previously hosted events in order to acquire the rights to future events. The concept of leveraging was seen in the case of London Ontario’s bid for the 2013 International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships. The 2009 bid recognized previous skating events as well as other national and world class events hosted in London from 2001-2011. The purpose of this study is to examine the past successes within the city of London and demonstrate how they have ultimately driven the awarding of the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. The study will also address key relationships that have impacted the bid process and will display the creative alternatives that the city had to present in order to remain competitive. Information and facts will be collected through interviews with a professional from Tourism London and if needed, a representative from Skate Canada.

2.45 pm – Coffee

3.15 pm – Leveraging sport mega-events: Physical activity for all?

Inge Derom, PhD Student – School of Kinesiology, UBC

Governments are seeking mechanisms for health promotion given the rising costs of health care. The Coalition for Active Living (2005) argued that “increasing the physical activity levels of all Canadians is a critical piece of the chronic disease prevention puzzle, and one of the best investments governments can make in health promotion” (p. 1). Recently, we have witnessed local and global examples of how governments have connected health promotion to other investments, namely the hosting of sport mega-events. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships between health promotion and physical activity by describing the policy of Active Communities Vancouver. This policy was developed by the City of Vancouver to increase physical activity levels among its citizens as a means to socially leverage the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

3.45 pm – Politics and Financing of the 2011 World Sledge Hockey Challenge

Melinda Maika, MA Student – School of Kinesiology – Sport Management, University of Western Ontario

Many cities are beginning to adopt development strategies couched in the hosting of events. While mega-events including the Olympic Games and World Championships present most drastic examples, many smaller-scale events may also play into this strategy. The purpose of this study is to examine the politics and financing of the 2011 World Sledge Hockey Challenge held in London, ON. The aim is to determine the political actors and motives at play in bidding for this particular event, and to discern how political power, the power of sport, and support of para-sport specifically affected the financing achieved through grants and sponsorship to run this event. Information will be gathered through interviews with the local Director of Sport Tourism and with key members of the Host Organizing Committee involved in preparing grant applications and securing sponsorship. A case-study will be developed and related to research on event leveraging and legacies.

4.15 pm – IOC serving peace and development? Questioning their role in achieving United Nations Millennium Development Goals

Nicolien van Luijk, PhD Student – School of Kinesiology, UBC

When we talk about leveraging legacies of the Olympic Movement we often focus on the actual mega event of the Olympic Games and what benefits this could potentially bring to host communities. But what is becoming more frequent is the role of the Olympic Movement in Sport for Peace and Development initiatives in geographical places where a mega event host is nowhere to be seen. This presentation will focus on the International Olympic Committee’s burgeoning partnership with the United Nations as a possible legacy of the broader Olympic Movement. The history behind this partnership will be examined, and the Olympic Movement’s potential role as ‘expert’ on peace and development initiatives will be critiqued. As a first year PhD student, this presentation will provide an exciting opportunity for me to share and development my research topic with others and it is my hope to encourage questions and input from attendees.

4.45 pm – Coffee

5.15 pm – Bidding for a sustainable legacy? The development of environmental sustainability in Olympic Games bids

Caitlin Pentifallo, PhD Student – School of Kinesiology, UBC

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), declared its own definition of sustainability:  “For VANOC, Sustainability means managing the social, economic and environmental impacts and opportunities of our Games to produce lasting benefits, locally and globally” (VANOC 2010).  In promising to stage the first sustainable Winter Olympic Games, VANOC created a six-point plan on sustainability featuring Accountability, Environmental Stewardship and Impact Reduction, Social Inclusion and Responsibility, Aboriginal Participation and Collaboration, Economic Benefits, and Sport for Sustainable Living.  Despite claims of a broad-sweeping and all-encompassing vision of sustainability that aimed to capture benefits spanning the triple bottom line at both local and global levels, VANOC’s most visible sustainability mission re-centered itself around a more specific variant– environmental sustainability.  This paper will argue that VANOC’s attention to the environment in the bidding, staging, and hosting phases of the 2010 Winter Games was deliberately motivated by a desire to distinguish Vancouver’s bid (and later its Games) from its predecessors.  In designing the first ever sustainable Olympic Games and promoting it as such, the Vancouver edition of the Winter Games distinguished itself as an environmental success.  However, these themes of ambition and environmental innovation can not only be linked to Vancouver’s experience in 2010, but also projected to London 2012, Sochi 2014, and Rio 2016.  This paper will show how the underlying currents of entrepreneurial urban governance, political regime theory, and neoliberal agendas operating in Olympic bid cities have persisted to drive the environmental sustainability element of Olympic bids forward.  In showing how threads of entrepreneurialism and neoliberalism have informed prospective Olympic hosts cities, this paper will demonstrate how and why environmental sustainability has become one of the pre-eminent topics dominating the Olympic bid discourse today.

5.45 pm – Navigating by night: Using Life Cycle Assessment Tools to Help Sport Events Chart a Course Towards Environmental Sustainability

Matt Dolf, PhD Student – School of Kinesiology, UBC

Sport events increasingly attempt to manage their environmental impacts, but few integrate quantified assessment into their planning process. There is a need for tailored tools to more easily provide accurate assessments; without this events cannot credibly manage or communicate on their environmental performance. This study measures the environmental impacts of multiple small to medium events at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and in Switzerland using the Impact 2002+ life cycle assessment (LCA) method. This approach is used to determine damage potential to ecosystem quality, human health, global warming potential, water, and resource use. Preliminary results will be presented along with the trade-offs of various assessment approaches in the context of event management.

6.15 pm – Re-Generation/Gentrification: Urbanization and the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

Amanda De Lisio, PhD Student – Faculty of Physical Education & Health, University of Toronto

For over a decade, political figures, business elites, and sports advocates in Toronto have chased an internationally recognized sport mega-event to stimulate urban renewal. After years of failed bids, the Toronto 2015 Organizing Committee (TO2015) secured the 2015 Pan/Parapan American (Pan-Am) Games. This event-led, catalytic intervention will create new opportunities to bolster local economic growth, including the revitalization of the once barren and toxic wasteland of Toronto’s waterfront. As such, I would like to examine the revitalization of one key area in Toronto, the West Don Lands, home of the 2015 Pan-Am Games Athletes’ Village. Specifically, I want to know (i) What legacies are associated to the revitalization of the West Don Lands? (ii) What imaginaries both for the space and bodies inside are privileged in the construction of these legacies? And, (iii) how might this vision influence the greater metropolis? In order to trace the effects of power in the production of space and its people, a text-based document analysis of relevant policies, websites, and media communications is proposed here, along with participant observations of community consultations and public meetings as well as key informant interviews with architects, sports leaders, and Waterfront Toronto planners. It is intended that the research will be used to add to our understanding of whether mega-event strategies can foster urban renewal in socially just and equitable ways.

6.45 pm – Closing remarks by Dr. Rob VanWynsberghe & Dr. Laura Misener

7.00 pm – Centre for Sport and Sustainability Reception