Summer of World Athletics in London generated £107m for economy

As the sporting calendar almost draws to an end following a stellar night of celebrations at the BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year last weekend, an event impact survey has demonstrated the huge benefits of London hosting the world’s biggest sporting event in 2017.

  • London was the first city ever to host the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships in the same year in the same stadium
  • Direct economic impact of the Summer of World Athletics exceeded £107million
  • More than a million spectators attended both Championships
  • More than 90% of attendees surveyed would recommend London as a tourist destination
  • 1.6 billion potential social media impressions and 4 million views alone for two videos of official IAAF World Championships mascot Hero the Hedgehog

The study (viewable at www.londonandpartners.com/majorevents), undertaken following the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships London 2017 has revealed the positive impact the ‘Summer of World Athletics’ had on the city with unprecedented results achieved.

London became the first city ever to host both the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships in the same year with more than 3,300 athletes from more than 200 nations competing in 30 sessions across 20 days. 

The study, delivered by The Sports Consultancy, in partnership with Nielsen Sports, Gracenote and PCSG, assessed the total direct economic impact of the Summer of World Athletics as exceeding £107million. 

More than a million people attended both Championships with events not just held in the London Stadium but across the capital. The IAAF World Championships were awarded a Guinness World Record for tickets sold in excess of 705,000, whilst the World Para Athletics Championships with 305,000 ticket sales, exceeded the figures for all previous editions of the event combined. 

The report also revealed that a £2.1million investment was made into grassroots athletics and running with the official inspiration programme and ‘Team Personal Best’ engaging with 250,000 people through 733 events with 250 held in the host city alone. Further to that, an average 45% of those surveyed said they had been inspired to do sport or active recreation more often than usual as a result of attending the Championships. 

The Championships also impacted audiences across the globe via broadcast and social media. On digital channels there were a recorded 1.6 billion potential impressions for the official hashtags #IAAFWorlds and #ParaAthletics. In addition the official mascot of the IAAF World Championships, Hero the Hedgehog, reached 4 million through the two main highlight videos on Facebook whilst the BP ‘Energy Within’ Campaign video featuring Richard Whitehead, released around the World Para Athletics Championships, attracted over 10 million Facebook views. Finally, in the UK alone more than half the available viewing audience – a 10m peak - tuned in to see the British Team success in winning the 4x100m relay gold at the IAAF World Championships, and overall the events achieved a 942m cumulative viewing audience. 

The study also reported: 

  • The World Para Athletics Championships contributed a direct economic impact of £28.16m to the London economy and a total economic impact ranging between £38.86m and £56.89m, resulting in a total contribution to GDP of between £16.17m and £23.67m.
  • The IAAF World Athletics Championships contributed a direct economic impact of £79.01m to the London economy and a total economic impact ranging between £109.03m and £159.60m, resulting in a total contribution to GDP of between £45.36m and £66.39m.
  • Percentage of event attendees that agreed that hosting both Championships showcased London as a positive, vibrant city: 97%
  • Percentage of attendees agreed they felt proud in London hosting both Championships: 98%
  • Percentage of attendees agreed that hosting both Championships had a positive impact on London’s communities: (World Para Athletics 95%, IAAF World Championships 91%)
  • Percentage of those surveyed who said they had been inspired to do sport or active recreation more often than usual as a result of attending the Championships: (World Para Athletics 47%, IAAF World Championships 42%)
  • 15,578 tickets were sold for the championships through the sports and community groups programme
  • As part of sustainability initiatives, 59% of spectators made use of the refill stations at the events with reusable drinks bottles

 The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “When it comes to hosting global sports events, this unforgettable summer proved once again that nobody does it quite like London. Our great city made a huge success of hosting both the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships – the first time both events had ever been staged in the same stadium, in the same year. London 2017 provided a lifetime of memories and showed that London is, without question, the sporting capital of the world.”

UK Athletics Chair Richard Bowker said: “Once again, in 2017, London showed it can stage the greatest athletics events in the greatest athletics stadium in the world. Both the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Athletics Championships provided an inspiration to millions of people both in the UK and abroad.

“Not only can we reflect so positively on the efforts that went into organising what are unanimously being regarded as ‘best ever’ championships, UK Athletics is immensely proud of all the British athletes who competed in London this summer. We are confident the performances demonstrate we are in great shape as we continue to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.” 

Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The World Para Athletics Championships in London were by far the best yet, taking the event to a whole new level. Record crowds and broadcast audiences around the world were rewarded with record breaking performances by the Para athletes.” 

IAAF President, Sebastian Coe said:  “It has been a phenomenal year of athletics, at the epicentre of which were the outstanding IAAF World Championships London 2017. We witnessed the greatest number of athletes, the highest level of performances and largest stadium audiences ever seen across the event’s 16 editions.  This report shows the positive impact of hosting an IAAF World Championships.  

“We would like to thank the Mayor of London and London 2017 Organising Committee for their dedication in documenting the event and its impact and creating with us the first comprehensive report that will enable the IAAF to have informed and detailed discussions with future cities wanting to host our events.  Hosting sporting events must provide mutual benefit to a city, a country, the sport, the fans and all partners.  London was a potent advertisement of the power and passion that athletics ignites and the strong and exciting future that awaits it when our sport delivers it right.” 

UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said: “Our own extensive research demonstrates that hosting major events provides significant social and economic benefits and we are delighted this new study shows this to also be the case with the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships. 

“Thanks to investment from the Government and The National Lottery, the UK has staged another world class event; these successful World Championships form part of our ambitious strategy to maintain the UK as a world-leading host of innovative and inspirational international sporting events.” 

Iain Edmondson, Head of Major Events at London and Partners, said: “London once again showed the world how it puts on world-class sporting events that are exciting, welcoming and accessible for all, and that demonstrate #LondonIsOpen.

“This report demonstrates that, five years on from the successful 2012 Olympics, world-class events in the London Stadium continue to be an impressive draw for international visitors and Londoners alike.” 

Matthew Wilson, Director of Consulting at The Sports Consultancy commented: “This report clearly evidences the extensive impact the IAAF World Championships and World Para Athletics Championships delivered to London’s businesses and citizens. These events delivered a direct economic impact to London which significantly exceeds that generated by the previous editions of each event. 

“Moreover, London 2017 delivered compelling evidence across a broad range of impact parameters, evidencing successful engagement of London communities, enhancement of London’s reputation as a global tourism, major event and business destination as well as a champion of diversity, and investment in sport participation - not just in London, but throughout the UK and internationally.”

Looking ahead to 2018, London will host many more major sporting events.

Major Events Calendar 2018

January 11: Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics, The O2 Arena

February 10: Six Nations – England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium

February 22-25 ITTF Table Tennis Team World Cup, Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP)

March 17: Six Nations – England v Ireland, Twickenham

April 22: Virgin Money London Marathon, central London

May 19: The Emirates FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium 

May 20: BBL Play-off Finals, The O2 Arena

June 15-17: UIM F1H2O World Powerboat Championship – Royal Victoria Docks

July 2-15: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, Wimbledon

July 21-22: Müller Anniversary Games (IAAF Diamond League), London Stadium, QEOP

July 21-5 Aug: 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, QEOP

July 27-29: Prudential RideLondon, citywide & Surrey

August 4-5: The London Triathlon, ExCeL London, Victoria Docks and Central London

August 25: Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final, Wembley

October 23-28: Six Day London, Lee Valley VeloPark, QEOP

***ENDS***

Notes to Editors

The report was co-authored by The Sports Consultancy (economic, reputational and community engagement impact assessments), Nielsen Sports (media exposure and social media impact assessments), Gracenote (sporting performance analysis) and PCSG (environmental and sustainability assessment) – supported by a range of contributors from across the London 2017 programme, including UK Sport, UK Athletics, GLA, England Athletics, and Team London.

The London 2017 Ltd Organising Committee delivered the IAAF World Championships and World Para Athletics Championships on behalf of UK Athletics, the Greater London Authority and UK Sport, supported by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, after both events were awarded to London in 2011 and 2012.

The World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 and IAAF World Championships London 2017 are together the biggest sporting event of the year and the biggest event to be staged in the Olympic Stadium since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

You can find out more at www.paraathleticschampionships.com and www.iaafworldchampionships.com

Contact

Liz Birchall
Head of Communications, British Athletics and London 2017
T: +44 (0) 7718 526 363
E: lbirchall@britishathletics.org.uk