Impact study reveals extent of world athletics success

20 Dec 2017

By: Sport Industry Group

An impact study has been released showing the benefits of London hosting the IAAF World Championships 2017, and the World Para Athletics Championships

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 £107m.

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 exceeded the figures for all previous editions of the event combined, with 305,000 ticket sales.

The report also revealed that a £2.1m 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.

In the UK alone more than half the available viewing audience - a 10 million 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 942 million cumulative viewing audience.

The study also noted that 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.


Infographic detailing study findings.

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 added: “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.”

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.”

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