How will communities respond when sporting events eventually return?
With plans under way for next year's Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Ballarat, that's the question researchers at Federation University are examining.
There could be discomfort or even opposition at the large amount of visitors, or there could be an opportunity to rebuild community spirit and get people back outside safely again.
Research lead Dr Alana Thomson said feedback from Ballarat and Buninyong about the RoadNats could help other cities as events begin to return.
"There's been a whole range of large scale sports events come to a halt or they look very different during COVID," she said.
"The approach myself and the research team look at are supportive of the social outcomes for communities, especially in regional communities - there's the economic boost, but also having the opportunities for socialisation in the local community, and the idea of civic pride.
"Having a great event your city hosts, those things come into play for the host community and you feel quite good about it."
The first part of the study involves hearing about the perception of the event from the local community, as well as getting in touch with key stakeholders like organisers and local businesses.
This is where the survey is important, Dr Thomson said - anyone who lives and works in Ballarat, or has a connection to the city, is invited to participate and share their thoughts.
The finished study will provide a unique perspective as communities begin to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, and big events look to change their approaches to encourage people to attend safely.
"We're not seeing the economic outcomes and social outcomes from events, at a time when we probably need those social outlets - so what does that mean?" she said.
"The RoadNats is unique, it can be staged in different ways, it can run with a large crowd or not, but what does it mean for the town at this point? Is it something people will look forward to?
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"The events sector often doesn't get the chance to stop and reflect, so COVID has presented the opportunity to stop and think, and be a bit more purposeful about what they deliver, and the whole participant experience."
To fill out the survey and help the researchers understand perceptions of the event, visit surveymonkey.com/r/F62NNBL.
It's understood an announcement for the 2021 RoadNats dates will be made by the end of this week.
The City of Ballarat signed a new three-year deal with Cycling Australia in January this year, at the conclusion of the 2020 event.
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