Krzysztof Kropielnicki, Head of Sportcal Events, summarise in the IWGA interview of the month his study of The World Games 2017. Sportcal’s GSI Event Studies Programme analysed the multi-sports event, held in Wrocław, Poland. The study, released earlier this year, looks at a range of impact indicators and examines the economic, tourism, media, sponsorship, sporting and social benefits of hosting the event.
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: We first approached IWGA in September 2016 and had a series of conversations with the IWGA board members and the CEO, Joachim Gossow, which led to signing a study agreement at SportAccord 2017 in Aarhus. In Denmark we also met with the organising committees of the 2017 event in Wrocław and the 2021 Games which will be held in Birmingham, Alabama. They both showed a tremendous support for the study throughout the process.
From your perspective what are the most important facts and figures?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: What is valuable about the study is that it looks beyond the traditional areas of assessment – economic and media impact – and aims to showcase the wider benefits of staging The World Games. As a result, it is difficult to pick out one piece of data that stands out as some people will focus on the tourism figures, while the others will be more interested in the community benefits the event has created and the legacy that has been build.
However, there is one telling figure that I would like to mention – 93 per cent of participants, including athletes, media, VIPs and spectators, said that they had a good time in Wrocław and enjoyed the experience. This is great news for everyone involved in the organisation of The World Games 2017 – after all, the event is for the athletes and the spectators. And I would like to mention two another figures which might be of interest: The World Games 2017, held in Wrocław, Poland, attracted 240,000 spectators and generated US$ 23 million in direct economic impact to the local economy.
Did anything come by surprise?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: It was amazing to see how passionate some athletes were about their participation. For many sports, The World Games is a pinnacle event and winning a medal is the ultimate achievement. There so many fantastic stories to uncover here that would merit a separate, in-depth study!
What are the lessons to be learned from The World Games 2017?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: Wrocław did a great job, but there were a couple of areas where the benefit of staging The World Games was not fully exploited. Tourism was one of them as the event was attended predominantly by people from Wrocław and the host region. Major events create a massive opportunity for the hosts to attract overseas spectators, but it is not going to happen without good planning and international promotion.
Also, The World Games still has some way to go to build its commercial value. The awareness of the event is increasing, but The World Games brand needs to be strengthen further to draw more corporate interest.
Is there anything you want to describe as best practice?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: The organisers of major sporting events are under intense scrutiny these days. The media and the public want to know what the events are going to cost and whether all spending categories are necessary, especially investments in event infrastructure and facilities. I believe the Wrocław Organising Committee and the city of Wrocław did well to control the operational costs, while still managing to make the event an enjoyable experience for all participants.
I also think the standard of media production was very high and on par with other major sporting events. This certainly helped to make The World Games 2017 a compelling television product which was an important objective for all event stakeholders.
With your experience gained by working on a study, why does it make sense to host this event?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: The World Games has a very friendly vibe – the event is very accessible, the athletes are approachable and the spectators find a lot of enjoyment in exploring the sports that don’t receive much global exposure. I can’t think of a better recommendation – this is what sport should be all about. The World Games can also become an international communication platform for the host city and stimulate the development of sport and community programmes that will engage and empower local audiences.
My impression is that The World Games has gone from strength to strength and, with the 2017 edition getting a lot of praise from participants, the event’s value for the future hosts can only grow.
What were the objectives of the study?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: The objective of the study was to analyse the holistic impact of The World Games 2017. When we work with event owners and hosts, we look at a broad range of impacts in a number of areas – from economic and tourism to social and legacy – and demonstrate how they all build a value of a sporting event. Another objective for us was to better understand the importance of the event to its stakeholders and the perceived benefit of being part of The World Games. To that effect, we conducted over 50 in-depth interviews, on-site and post-event, with the organisers, international federations, event partners, sponsors and suppliers. We also surveyed event spectators, athletes, media and VIPs present in Wrocław.
Tell us a little bit about your methodology.
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: Sportcal launched a Global Sports Impact Project in 2011 with the aim of creating a standard for a holistic assessment of major events. We consulted over 200 industry experts to understand what they believed the key indicators are for measuring the impact of sporting events and, based on the findings, we created a list of parameters we consistently take into account in our assessment. The methodology is evolving and we have teamed up with ASOIF, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, and IAEH, the International Association of Event Hosts, to further develop the standards and definitions which we use in our work. Only last year, we conducted studies for 20 major events, including seven senior world championships and three multi-sports events.
How do I get the study?
Krzysztof Kropielnicki: The study with all details is available on the IWGA website.