Glasgow will be the European Capital of Sports Science in July!

13th Feb, 2024

Glasgow was announced as the 2024 host of the Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS). The event, which will take place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) from 2 to 5 July 2024, is expected to attract 3,000 delegates, marking the first time in 28 years that the meeting will be held in Scotland. The announcement comes as Glasgow boasts the title of European Capital of Sport for the second time, celebrating two decades of successful development and investment among the world’s leading sporting cities. Set up in conjunction with the team from the University of the West of Scotland, the theme of this congress will be 'Enhancing Health, Performance and Community Sport', within a scientific programme that will consist of more than 2,000 presentations on current topics in sports science, divided into plenary lectures, invited symposia, oral presentations and posters.

Over the last 20 years, Glasgow has invested more than £200 million in its sports venues, such as the Emirates Arena, the Glasgow BMX Centre and the renovated Kelvin Hall, which has enabled it to host a number of world-class events, such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships or the UEFA EURO 2020 games. The city now plans to continue building on the legacy of more than 20 years of sustained success in organising major sporting events by welcoming the world’s leading sports scientists to the city for 4 days of learning, collaboration and discussion. As usual in this regular feature in the magazine, we spoke to the heads of the organising association and the host destination about all the elements surrounding this major event for next year’s calendar.

Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism and Conventions at the Glasgow Convention Bureau (GCB)

1) What were the reasons for the city’s commitment to this strategic segment of sports?

One of the primary reasons for Glasgow’s strategy to include investing in sporting venues and hosting major international events is the economic impact. Major sports events attract tourists, visitors, and media attention, and this influx of revenue boosts the city’s economy and creates long- term job opportunities. In addition, hosting major international sporting events puts Glasgow on the global stage, increasing its visibility, both as a successful, can-do event city, but also as an attractive place to visit in the future. Attendees who visit the city because of the event return as leisure visitors, or spread the word to others as a great city to visit.

2) Could this tailwind strategy create a trail of meetings and events in the future, such as this conference, leveraging partnerships between the public and private sectors?

As well as major sporting events, looking back over the last 20 years, Glasgow has hosted 64 sports-related conferences that attracted 11,000 delegates and contributing £11 million to the local economy from delegate spend. Therefore it seems rather fitting that the city looks forward to welcoming the prestigious ECSS Conference here in 2024. Already, through the successful bid process and the planning stages, the hosting of the ECSS has offered an opportunity for “town and gown” to work closely together through the efforts of the University of the West of Scotland who led the bid and involved a variety of public and private sector supporters of the conference coming to Glasgow and to Scotland.

3) What kind of legacies and impacts do you hope to bring to Glasgow with this conference both directly and over time?

A conference of this size and scale has a significant economic impact on the local community, which is projected to be around £5 million. But beyond that, the potential for positive social impact is even greater. As the theme of the conference is partly centred on Sport in the Community, the GCB will be working with the ECSS to help develop health and wellbeing strategies by taking the subject of the conference out into the community. At the GCB, we take the legacy of the conference incredibly seriously, which is evidenced by the fact that we have a team dedicated to positive impact and legacy. Over the last 13 years, we have supported 26 Impact or Legacy events attended by thousands of Glaswegians. There are a number of charitable organisations operating in and around Glasgow that promote the role of sport in the community. One such organisation is the Live Well Community Referral Scheme, which offers a free programme of activities for people who want to lead better, healthier lives. There is clearly a synergy here with the ECSS theme and we will be exploring these opportunities. We know that this, in turn, will raise the profile of the conference and take it beyond the walls of the conference centre, allowing for a real and tangible impact at a local level.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Ferrauti, President-Elect of the European College of Sport Science


1) What do you look for in a destination as a partner at this level?

As an European association, ECSS tries to fulfil the vision of promoting Sports Science as widely as possible and involving many nations from all geographical destinations. Naturally, we need a strong local university partner for successful scientific and organisational implementation, a well-equipped infrastructure to host 3,000 participants and a clear commitment from the city administration and local bureau to promote physical activity, sport and sports science. The cultural and historical diversity in Europe provides further arguments for selecting a location, because scientific debate is always integrated into a touristically-attractive social programme. The city of Glasgow, the University of the West of Scotland and the Scottish Event Campus fulfil all these requirements exceptionally well and obtained excellent ratings in all categories during the competition process.

2) What can delegates expect from the synergies with local partners and as a surprise factor in the programme?

Understanding the relationships between physical activity and exercise training for health and performance enhancements across an interdisciplinary approach is the most important overarching goal of sport science research. In this regard, the congress primarily serves the expansion of scientific knowledge, the formation of networks for research projects and the promotion of young researchers. Beyond these major goals, a “surprise factor” may consist of our attempt to involve the Glasgow community by opening the congress doors for specific target groups such as politicians, medical doctors, physical education teachers, coaches, as well as athletes and to offer them attractive presentations and workshops. Overall, there is also the goal of bringing our ideal of a physically active society into the European metropolises in order to influence political decisions in favour of an active city. This initiative is already being positively promoted in Glasgow across numerous projects such as the Glasgow Cycling & Urban Sports Strategy, and therefore Glasgow deserves the current title of European Capital of Sport 2023.

3) What does the ECSS want to leave for the city and its local communities as a key legacy of your meeting?

The city of Glasgow will be able to present itself in the best possible light to the international community, as we will be taking to the streets on several occasions during the congress. For example, we’ll be organising the traditional Bengt Saltin Charity Run on the banks of the River Clyde and we’re also planning a reception at the city’s Science Centre, as well as at the historic Paisley Town Hall. Delegates will have the opportunity to enjoy Glasgow by night during our closing party, which will probably take place at the Platform. In terms of content, it can never be ruled out that local decision-makers will continue to be inspired and debate innovative ways to improve health, performance and community sports based on knowledge they have acquired during the congress. Last but not least, we enable the University of the West of Scotland to present itself as an academic institution with a world-class educational and scientific reputation, featuring a growing portfolio of sports science-related study programmes.

Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.