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Planning to fail? Leveraging the Olympic bid

Tom Bason (Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Jonathan Grix (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 15 December 2017

Issue publication date: 2 January 2018




In recent years, there has been a decline in the number of cities seeking to host the Olympic Games, with several cities withdrawing from the bid process following referenda. The debate around bidding have hinged on the costs and benefits of hosting events, with little consideration as to the benefits of a bid itself. The purpose of this paper is to identify the ways in which Olympic bids be leveraged for positive outcomes, regardless of the outcomes of the bid.


This research employs a content analysis, examining the 16 bid responses to the question in the International Olympic Committee Candidate questionnaire: “What will be the benefits of bidding for the Olympic Games for your city/region, irrespective of the outcome of the bid?”.


This research found that bid cities do attempt to use the Olympic bid process as a leveraging resource, with four unique opportunities arising from this; national and city pride, Olympism, the formation of networks, and global focus. These provide the opportunities for Olympic bid cities to achieve the following strategic objectives: nation and community building, sport participation, business opportunities, enhancing image and profile, and to push through infrastructural projects.


There has been little consideration as to the ways an Olympic bid can be used to leverage positive outcomes for a city or a nation, and therefore this research contributes to the literature on leveraging mega-events. The research also has practical value, in providing potential bidders with information regarding positive outcomes whether the bid is successful or not.



This research was supported by a Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme.


Bason, T. and Grix, J. (2018), "Planning to fail? Leveraging the Olympic bid", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 138-151.



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