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Sustainable mega sport events: Oxymoron or reality?

More recently, public support for hosting the Olympic Games seems to have diminished in Europe and the United States, despite extensive campaigns with their promise of economic benefits. Boston (USA) and Hamburg (Germany), for example, withdrew their plans to host the 2024 Summer Olympics amid a lack of public support. For the same reason, the European cities of Graubünden, Krakow, Munich, Oslo and Stockholm decided not to apply for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Interestingly, an argument frequently raised by opponents is that such a hosting is unlikely to be ecologically sustainable or, even worse, harmful to the environment.
Course code
Course type
BSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2024
apl. Prof. Dr. Dominik Schreyer
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Public referenda have become a frequent tool of popular sovereignty across Western democracies (Casella & Gelman, 2008). Unsurprisingly, this general trend also affects applicant cities willing to host mega sport events such as the Olympic Games. For example, referenda have recently put an end to seven Olympic candidatures (Graubünden, Munich, and Krakow for the 2022 Olympics, Hamburg for the 2024 Olympics, Innsbruck and Graubünden again for the 2026 Olympics, and Vienna for 2028 Olympics). Additionally, Boston and Budapest canceled their candidatures for the 2024 Olympics facing both an apparent lack of public support and demands for referenda.

Potentially triggered by the recent rejections of Olympic host ambitions, researchers, primarily those operating in the field of sports economics, have begun to explore the determinants of individual citizen support for Olympic bids (e.g., Atkinson, Mourato, Szymanski, & Ozdemiroglu, 2008; Coates & Wicker, 2015; Preuss & Werkmann, 2011; Walton, Longo, & Dawson, 2008; Wicker & Coates, 2018; Wicker, Whitehead, Mason, & Johnson, 2016). Interestingly, an argument frequently raised by opponents is that such a hosting is unlikely to be sustainable or, even worse, harmful, primarily to the environment.

Therefore, in this course, we will assess the economic, environmental, and social footprint of mega sports events such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. Based on this initial assessment, students will work in teams to develop a first concept for sustainable mega sports events.

Date Time
Tuesday, 16.01.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Wednesday, 14.02.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Thursday, 15.02.2024 15:30 - 20:30
Friday, 23.02.2024 11:30 - 17:15
Learn how to analyze corporate sustainability activities:
  • Students will learn how to effectively define and measure/assess sustainability.

Learn about the economics of mega sport events:

  • Students will gain a first understanding of key issues in the economics of mega sport events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.
There are no prerequisite readings. References will be announced during the first class meeting of the course at the beginning of the semester.
Following an interactive introductory kick-off session, all students will evaluate the sustainability of a recent mega sports event in small groups, thereby exploring previous challenges and developing recommendations leading to increasingly sustainable mega sport events in the future. Throughout the initial analysis, either complete groups or their team captains continuously spare with the course instructor.

To ensure progress, there are, among other things, mandatory feedback sessions. Students then present their results to their classmates in class.

To allow for questions from both the instructor and the classmates, the presentation is followed by a short Q&A session.

Having listened to multiple student presentations on a range of different mega sport events in-class during the last session, students, then, reflect on both emerging/repeating patterns in the sustainability of previous mega sport event and their learning experience in form of a short reflection paper answering the question of whether sustainable mega sport events are either an oxymoron or (already) reality.

The course assessment is based on the quality of a group assignment (75 percent), i.e., the group presentation, and a short, individual reflection paper (25). Further details about both the presentation (e.g., exact task, length, timing) and the reflection paper (e.g., word limit) will be communicated in the first session of the course.
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