UK Sport

Major sporting events in 2023 contribute £373m to economy, says UK Sport

UK Sport has launched its second Value of Events report alongside The Sports Consultancy.

The report looks at the extensive portfolio of major sports events hosted across the UK in 2023 and explores their impact, whether it be economic, environmental, or sporting.

2023 was an extremely successful year for hosting major sporting events in the UK. The investment of £10.8 million from UK Sport and Government supported 16 major sporting events, generating £373 million in direct economic impact to the UK – a 6:1 direct return on investment.

Beyond the economic benefits, major sporting events provided opportunities for people to develop skills and give back to the community; in 2023, UK Sport supported major sporting events led to a total of 204,000 volunteering hours from more than 6,000 people.

The sporting impact of these events was also significant, with 226 British medals won and 56 Olympic and Paralympic spots secured ahead of Paris 2024. This report paints a vivid picture of how hosting major sporting events has profoundly influenced communities, benefitted athletes, and promoted the UK on a global scale.

Sian Jenkins, director of The Sports Consultancy said: “Working with UK Sport to research and compile this annual report for a second time has been another inspirational opportunity to take a step back and remember why sport and major events are so important to the UK.

“As evidenced in this report, sport has a unique power to transform lives and unite communities. Once again, UK Sport has invested in a broad portfolio of events that has ensured the length and breadth of the UK feel the impact of major sporting events.”

Esther Britten, head of major events at UK Sport, said: “2023 was another year of incredible sporting action across the length and breadth of the UK. We had the downhill mountain biking element of the UCI Cycling World Championships in the Scottish Highlands, the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships in the iconic Principality Stadium in Cardiff, and the Formula Kite European Championships on the south coast in Portsmouth.

“With the support of every National Lottery player, we were able to invest in a programme of events that not only served up a huge helping of extraordinary sporting moments, but also left tangible and long lasting economic and social benefits across each host city and region.”

In other news, UK Sport has also published its new major event hosting target list for the coming decade.

The list, which is accompanied by Making Live Sport Matter, a new major event strategic framework for the UK, targets 70 events in 32 sports and 18 World Championships.

The UK is already preparing to host the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025, the European Athletics Championships in 2026 and UEFA EURO 2028. The new list of aspirational hosting targets includes the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the biggest global sporting event the UK has never hosted, along with the Men’s Rugby World Cup, the Athletics World Championships, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and the Tour de France.

Alongside these traditional powerhouse events, the hosting target list reflects a shift in approach to explore increasingly innovative event propositions which engage as broad a range of sports fans as possible.

This includes both existing and new event properties such as the Skateboarding World Championships, the IOC’s new Olympic Qualifying Series for urban sports and the Climbing World Championships, alongside new concepts in urban, a para multi-sport and e-sport.

All events on the list are subject to a feasibility process which typically assesses venue selection, winnability, bid processes, financial contributions and costs. Additionally, every event we invest in must have social impact at its heart and deliver positive, lasting change across areas including mental health, wellbeing, employment skills and environmental sustainability.

Simon Morton, deputy CEO and director of events at UK Sport, said: “In the UK, millions of us choose to spend our free time watching and enjoying live sport with those that matter most to us, our friends, families and communities.

“Live sport is a fundamental part of this country’s social fabric. No other country buys more tickets per head to major sporting events than we do in the UK.

“In the years ahead, we want to host a programme of live sport that resonates with the British public and makes a difference to millions of people’s lives. That programme has to be more accessible to people and communities across the country ensuring sport reaches as many fans as possible.”

Image: UCI Cycling World Championships 2023/ADI