The CARNIVAL project: legacies of mega-events

Academics at Coventry University are leading a new international research project to look at why expensive, large-scale sporting and cultural events often fail to deliver the beneficial legacies that their organisers and supporters promise.

The four-year CARNIVAL project has received €852,000 funding from the European Commission, which will critically analyse the management of high-profile, mass participation ‘mega-events’ like the Olympics.

Dr Samantha Gorse and Dr Ian Brittain at Coventry University’s Centre for International Business of Sport (CIBS) are leading the project, which will involve over 30 researchers from the UK, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and the USA conducting field work at major sporting and cultural celebrations across the globe.

Researchers will work with organisers, promoters, officials and other stakeholders across industry and government, gathering evidence from previous mega-events and studying forthcoming occasions such as this year’s World Cup in Rio and Mardi Gras Festival in New Orleans.

The team will be looking to uncover the reasons why mega-events have in the past failed to live up to expectations in terms of long-term social and economic impact. Their intention is to help determine how mega-events can be better managed in the future so that legacy benefits can be fully realised on a sustainable and responsible basis.

Dr Terri Byers, Principle Lecturer in Sport Management and Researcher in CIBS said: ‘Mega-events are enthusiastically embraced as a strategy for national promotion, profit generation and re-imaging and the huge costs associated with bidding for and hosting these events is often justified through arguing that they create lasting and sustainable legacies. Unfortunately, in reality, the actual benefits realised are often much less than anticipated. ‘The global economic crisis has really put the spotlight on what these major events achieve. When you look at the vast amounts of money being spent, governments need to be able to justify to their own populations what the legacy will be.’

Anyone with an interest in the project should contact Samantha Gorse,  Project Co-ordinator on

Learn more about the development of the project, including comments from some of the international partners, in this short video:



Coventry University