Evaluating the London 2012 Games’ impact on sport participation in a non-hosting region: a practical application of realist evaluation

Shushu Chen*, Ian Henry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


In the literature on Olympic legacies and impacts, there is a dearth of materials that specifically address the issue of Olympic impact for non-hosting regions. The literature tends to deal with impacts at a national level, or at a hosting-city region level, neglecting in large part the degree to which benefits can be leveraged by non-hosting regions. A further limitation identified in the literature is a failure to engage in detailed formal evaluation of policy implementation where assertions of potential policy impact are based on untested assumptions. This study is intended to address both of these concerns. It presents an empirical, ‘bottom-up’ application of a Realist Evaluation framework to assess the impact of a policy initiative – Workplace Challenge – aimed at leveraging enhanced sports participation in a non-hosting region – Leicestershire – in the period leading up to the 2012 Games. In doing so, it seeks to identify which causal mechanisms worked within this particular context to produce the observed outcomes. The evaluation results demonstrate that the programme represented a positive approach to fostering regular engagement with sport and physical activities for some groups in some types of organisations, and that awareness and motivational factors associated with the London 2012 Games are, in this case, linked (albeit weakly) to an increase in sport and physical activity participation for specific groups taking part in the programme in particular organisational contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-707
Number of pages23
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2015


  • additionality
  • non-hosting region
  • Olympic impact
  • realist evaluation
  • sport participation
  • the London 2012 Games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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