The clammy hand of the third sector? Engaging the voluntary sector in Olympic Games volunteering legacies

Authors: Smith, K., Holmes, K., Lockstone-Binney, L. and Shipway, R.

Start date: 24 November 2016

Volunteers are lauded as the “unsung heroes” of the Olympic Games, and countries are increasingly looking for a volunteering legacy from hosting this, and other, mega events. Yet research has largely focused on the Games-time volunteering, without acknowledging the role of voluntary sector (including peak volunteering bodies, volunteer resource centres, and community organisations), and their involvement – or not – in supporting the event’s volunteering objectives. This comparative study of the Sydney 2000 and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games draws on secondary documentation and interviews with key informants. The findings reveal contrasting approaches of the Organising Committees to working with the voluntary sector on legacy planning. In Sydney, SOCOG had no specific remit for legacy planning and the voluntary sector led legacy efforts. In London there was Government-led legacy planning but the failure to engage with the voluntary sector hampered implementation. We draw out recommendations for how the voluntary sector should be better engaged in mega event planning to facilitate a stronger volunteering legacy.

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