Case Study


From July 8- 12, 2014, the City of Vancouver and University of British Columbia hosted the 2014 Special Olympics. The event featured 11 sports, making the 2014 Games the largest Canadian Games ever, with UBC as our proud host venue.

The 2014 Games were an overwhelming success! From opening to closing ceremonies it was clear that the criteria for making decisions was always athlete-centered. Athletes, coaches, families and honored guests experienced great hospitality from the City of Vancouver and UBC.


In the summer of 2014, the City of Vancouver, together with hosting venue UBC, hosted the largest Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in history, and the first Games in BC since 1990. It was through a strong partnership with UBC that the challenges associated with hosting a multi-sport event were overcome.

Twenty-nine Games-time functions and over 1400 volunteers executed eleven sporting competitions at eleven sport venues. Three new sports (basketball, bocce, and golf) were added to the national competition schedule for the first time. Additionally, the Games welcomed nearly 1900 friends and family from across Canada to cheer on the athletes.

Partnering with UBC resulted in these legacies:
• 11 UBC research projects affiliated with Special Olympics
• $20,000 generated for research, projects, learning opportunities
• 350 students, 130 staff, 45 alumni, and 15 faculty engaged in the project
• 7 pre-Games engagement events for the UBC community
• New student-created club on campus focused on disability awareness, as well as a volunteer engagement legacy with Special Olympic BC


The real game-changing element of this event was the collaboration and commitment of all partners involved from the beginning. The success of these Games--different from a typical sporting event--was the “win-win-win” scenario between Special Olympics Canada, Special Olympics BC, and the host venue of UBC.

Working closely with the host venue, UBC, proved invaluable in several areas. Not only were the 2014 Games able to take advantage of systems that were already in place and utilize their expertise to further efforts in sustainability, UBC played a key role in preparing the venues for competition and providing volunteers to help execute the Games. Several pre-Games events with the varsity sports teams were essential in engaging the university community and furthering their relationship with Special Olympics BC.

The 2014 Games demonstrated the real impact and profound legacy potential when each partner leveraged the unique opportunity that sport hosting offers, and executed together a vision that exceeded financial impact. From the new Transfer of Knowledge process predicted to generate an impact on future Special Olympic Games' hosts, to the volunteer workforce created from a 2000-participant Games organized almost entirely by volunteers, to a best-practice sustainable sport event hosting framework – Vancouver 2014 will go down in Special Olympics Canada history as a major milestone in the growth and development of the movement.

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