Event bidding: a research agenda for major and mega sport events

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Event bidding is becoming an increasingly important topic in the broader field of (critical) event studies. Bidding contests for major sporting and cultural events increasingly attract mainstream media and public attention. For example, controversies surrounding the award of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar and discussions over the value of hosting events such as the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are now covered both in academic circles (see Whitelegg, 2000; Shoval, 2002; Cornelissen, 2004; Black, 2007; Boykoff, 2014; Brannagan & Giulianotti, 2015; Dempsey & Zimbalist, 2017) and in the popular media. Despite moves by event awarding bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reform bidding processes through initiatives including Agenda 2020, host bid teams now invariably encounter well organised movements from within the wider citizenry raising questions about the cost and impact of these bids (Lenskyj, 2010; Lauermann, 2016). And yet, despite growing skepticism about the politics and practices of event bidding, a significant number of cities and nations continue to submit their expressions of interest to host peripatetic sporting, cultural or business-focused events. Furthermore, the cost of bids, even if unsuccessful, can often reach into many millions. Despite the cost, size and scale of these bidding contests, relatively little academic attention has been paid to the strategies and tactics used to develop successful bids, beyond individual case studies of specific events. In this chapter, we seek to accomplish two things. First, we draw on our own research studies into event bidding (McGillivray & Turner, 2017; Lauermann, 2015; Oliver and Lauermann, 2017) to identify the principal conceptual and methodological issues that researchers should be concerned with. These issues include: the rationale and motivation for event bidding, historically and in the present; the conceptual frame (s) that help explain and critique event bidding policies and practices, globally; the roles played by local, national and global actors in event bidding processes, including concern for the power relations that exist; the governance and ethical principles that inform event bidding processes, including within awarding bodies and event bid committees; and, the nature, scope and effectiveness of opposition to event bids (see also Barbassa, 2015; Blake & Calvert, 2017; Zirin, 2014). Second, we explore what the changing landscape of event bidding means for the direction of future research in this field. We make the case for more participatory, involved and collaborative research methods to better understand the complex dynamics taking place within event bidding processes. We build on Lauermann’s work on Boston’s failed bid for the 2024 Olympic Games to stress the importance of longitudinal research enquiries that can provide insight into the power play at work between awarding bodies and host destinations and within host bid committee themselves. We also call for more research on the relationship between event bids, ‘legacy’ media and new media in both promoting bid narratives and contesting them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Research Agenda for Event Management
EditorsJohn Armbrecht, Erik Lundberg, Tommy D. Andersson
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781788114363
ISBN (Print)9781788114356, 1788114353
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Publication series

NameElgar Research Agendas
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing


  • Event bidding
  • Event management
  • Mega-event
  • Sport


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