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Identifying motives for engagement in major sport events: The case of the 2017 Barents Summer Games

Anne Tjønndal (Faculty of Social Science, Nord University, Bodø, Norway)

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 4 June 2018



Major sport events are facing increasing demands. These events are no longer “just” about sport, but are now expected to be sustainable, multicultural, democratic and convey specific political values such as “unity,” “identity” and “peace.” The increasing demands on major sport events place local hosts in a difficult situation, accommodating both the organization of the sport competitions and the ideologies connected to these events. The purpose of this paper is to identify motives for engagement among stakeholders of the 2017 Barents Summer Games. Furthermore, it investigates how and in what ways these motives are conflicting, and what the consequences of conflicting motives of engagement can be for the development of innovation in major sport events.


The empirical data in this study are derived from one year of ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on participant observations of the planning and execution of the 2017 Barents Summer Games.


The analysis identifies key economic, socio-cultural, political and athletic motives for engagement among six different stakeholders involved in the games. Additionally, the results indicate how there are both conflicting economic, socio-cultural and political motives for engagement among the stakeholders. Finally, the analysis illustrates how conflicting motives for engagement constitutes an innovation barrier for major sport events.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork of the planning and execution of the 2017 Barents Summer Games, a major sport event in the Barents region. The Barents region is characterized by its unique nature and vulnerable environment, with wide tundra areas in the north and extensive boreal forests zones in the south. The region represents an area as large as Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France (mainland) and Spain (mainland) together, totaling 1.75m km2. Several indigenous peoples and minority groups live in the region, such as the Sami and the Komi. Hence, the context of the study is quite unique and the results may not be transferable to other major sport events with regional significance.


Previous research on motives in major sport events have focused on motives and motivation for engagement among volunteers in major sport events. The paper contributes to this research field by studying motives of engagement among stakeholders from private, public and volunteer sectors in a major international sport event with regional significance.



Tjønndal, A. (2018), "Identifying motives for engagement in major sport events: The case of the 2017 Barents Summer Games", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 223-242.



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