Building on the evidence of social impacts generated by sport events, there is a need for research to identify strategies suitable for maximizing event benefits for disparate interest communities. This paper investigates the opportunities and strategic means for sustaining and leveraging social event benefits arising from intercommunity sport events in the ethnically divided Sri Lanka. Following an interpretive mode of inquiry, findings are derived from the analysis of two focus groups and 35 in-depth interviews with Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and international event stakeholders. To maximize event benefits, findings suggest that event organizers and host communities focus strategically on children as catalysts for change; increase ethnically mixed team sport activities; provide event-related sociocultural opportunities; combine large-scale events with regular sport-for-development programs; and engage in social, cultural, political and educational event leverage. By implementing these strategies and tactics, intercommunity sport events are likely to contribute to local capacity building and inclusive social change, which can have flow-on effects to the wider community. These findings extend the academic literature on strategic event planning, management and leverage, as they provide a focus on community event leverage for social purposes in a developing world context—an area which has thus far received limited empirical research.
Schulenkorf and Edwards are with the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Management Discipline Group, UTS Business School, Sydney, Australia.